November 3, 2008 - Link to Letter with Photos
Ms. Karen Osborne, Director
Maricopa County Elections
111 S. Third Avenue
Phoenix, Arizona 85003
Dear Ms. Osborne:
We have a number of concerns related to the conduct of elections in Maricopa County. Some of the necessary reforms (esp. those mandated by state law) can be put into place before tomorrow's election while others clearly fall into the “too-late-for-this-one” category and may need legal reforms.
Your office asked for 5,000 ballots to be pulled in batches for the hand-audit. I suggest a review of the October,. 2007, edition of the AZ Secretary of State's procedures manual (page 234). We were supposed to pull 20,000 and the 5,000 would be a randomly selected subset of the larger number. There appear to be two reasons for this: first, there's an element of randomness to how the 5,000 are picked but more importantly, if anything is found wrong with that first hand-count, it's supposed to be expanded into the 20,000 available.
Lacking those additional 15,000 auditable ballots, our remaining fallback is to hand-count 600,000+ ballots. Speaking as a likely hand-counter, just the thought is coronary-inducing.
We ask that tamper-evident tape seals be applied to the four outer corners of the mail-in audit ballot boxes that are being created. It is laughably simple to get in and out of those boxes by removing the hinge pin on either side with a simple centerpunch and hammer. I know because I wrote down the make/model of those boxes and John Brakey stumbled across the exact item at Fry's Electronics for $12.99. A center-punch set at Walmart was $7.34. We have performed tests on that container. These boxes were never designed for high security applications and we are of the opinion this should be the last election where the idiotic things are used at all. Meanwhile, at least corner-sealing the 30ish boxes holding the 5,000 auditable ballots will take only minutes and little cost.
The reason we ask for the reform in item two is that we have found a serious flaw in how the hand-count laws work at all in Maricopa County.
The issue stems from the fact that the technical minds behind the hand-audit law mostly came from Pima or were otherwise familiar with Diebold equipment. Your Sequoia gear has the ability to track exactly what votes are in any given batch of votes, based on ID numbers your election process generates. Your staff know exactly which batches have been selected for possible audit, same as the parties have...as each audit batch was created, we all wrote down the county batch ID numbers and John Stewart copied the “pink sheet” showing batch details including ID numbers.
Has it occurred to anybody that someone with a criminal bent can electronically hack the vote totals (within the database) in all the OTHER batches, leaving the audit batches intact? Ooops.
The sole barrier to this type of fraud is the risk that the scanners might have a “glitch rate” high enough to leave the hand-audit off enough to call for spot-checking into the rest of the votes. Having watched these scanners for days produce an over-abundance of rejects (many of which when run back through are accepted on a second pass), I would NOT trust the accuracy of those scanners to be perfect enough to prevent a wider check that might detect a felony in progress.
If I was pulling this class of fraud, I would most definitely ask the database what the vote totals are supposed to be in the audit batches, crack those boxes open and make sure they're right.
That in turn is why we want extra seals of the “tamper-evident sticker” type with serial numbers recorded by the parties at all four corners of each box – to force a fraudster to guess that the audit boxes will be right.
Longer-term, we're going to have to re-think this whole hand-audit process for the mail-in vote. My guess is, we'll bring the write-in board people to two-seat panels right beside each machine, to process the write-ins as each normal batch is scanned. That would let us put the write-ins back in with their original “batch-mates” and let ANY batch of ballots be an audit batch, truly randomly selected. On audit day, parties pick batches, your staff print the electronic totals for each batch right there, we crack open the cardboard box and do a count – eliminating the whole stupid concept of “audit batches”. It'll probably end up being less work overall, although the scanner room will get a bit more crowded.
Due to the various problems above and more, we must ask that the boxes of all types of ballots selected for hand-audit be selected on the morning of the hand-count, and not days earlier leaving time to pre-manipulate the audit batches. As you're no doubt aware, criminal penalties were applied in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, for doing exactly that, and eyewitness testimony in Pima County of this sort of behavior has been taken into sworn depositions.
We demand that polltapes showing precinct vote totals be signed by pollworkers on election night. This is a national standard – see also the Secretary of State Procedures Manual, October 2007 edition, page 143. This can be handled via a bulletin to the lead pollworkers.
We demand that observers at the regional receiving stations be allowed cameras, and the ability to check the intact (or otherwise) state of the seals. See also Secretary of State Procedures Manual, October 2007 edition, page 147. (The specific right to check seals in that manual means there is no “six foot back” rule for people with party observation credentials.)
Because of all of these intersecting issues, we must reserve the right to either trigger or support a challenge under ARS 16-677.
Thank you for your kind attention in these matters,
Co-coordinator, AZ Transparency Project (ATP)
in cooperation with the Maricopa Libertarian Party
John R Brakey
Co-coordinator, AZ Transparency Project, co-founder AUDIT-AZ and (Americans United for Democracy, Integrity, and Transparency in Elections, Arizona) & Co-Coordinator Investigations for Election Defense Alliance
520 414 0167
cc: Ms. Colleen Conner
Andrew Thomas, Maricopa County Attorney
Sen. Karen Johnson
Sen. Jack Harper
Tom Husband, R Chair Maricopa
Mark Manoil, D Chair Maricopa
Jim Iannuzo, Lb Chair Maricopa
Ed Vallejo, Lb Vic Chair State
Michael Kielsky, Lb State Chair
Ted Downing, D Chair ADP-EIC
Tom Ryan, Ph.D
Bill Risner, Esq.