Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Election Day Highlights

My polling place was moved to the Eureka Muni, which is a decent place to vote because it is big enough to combine four precincts and have lots of machines in a wide open room. Outside, the Humboldt Voters' Association was conducting an educational demonstration vote using instant runoff voting. When I arrived, Dave Ogden, with a snicker of glee, told me about Diebold optical scanners failing in Fields Landing. I asked many people throughout the day and never got any more details.

At 5:15 Tuesday afternoon I made my first appearance on the Peter B. Collins radio show. He was a bit surprised that I was taking exception to the Diebold optical scanners. I offered my understanding of the interpreter code and how it converts ballot information into Diebold's trade secret language. As I recall, he didn't really pick up much on the media challenge I've been discussing recently and which I emphasized in this prepared statement I made a little later in the afternoon at the Voter Confidence Committee press conference outside of Eureka City Hall.

I don't have the audio from Peter's show, but like last week's appearance on Thom Hartmann's show, I will post it in the GuvWurld News Archive when/if I get it, and then link to it here at WDNC. Meanwhile, Eileen McGee and Mark Dubrow both captured video of the VCC press conference (no commercial TV cameras were present). Eileen has been assembling a lot of other footage of our election protection efforts for a future episode of Seeking Solutions, her locally produced TV show on the Humboldt County progressive community.

After our press conference about 20 of us went upstairs to address the Eureka City Council during the public comment portion of their regularly scheduled meeting. It was probably unfortunate that both Mayor Peter La Vallee and Councilmember Chris Kerrigan were not present. Still, I was able to ask the Council, as prominent individual community members (since as a group they cannot act on requests made during public comment), to join us in calling for responsible media treatment of the unverified results, and to help us convince the Elections Department and County Supervisors to hand count the ballots for verification. I also got to use Councilmember Jeff Leonard's "verify" remarks in a personal appeal to him. About six or seven others from our group also addressed the Council, including Nathan Smith from the NAACP, Carol Brannan from Communities For Peace and Laura Simpson from Veterans For Peace.

After having our say at the Council we regrouped outside and decided we didn't have enough people to hold an impactful demonstration as we had hoped. The Eureka Times-Standard and Eureka Reporter had both covered our press conference (article) so we ruled out marching to either of their buildings. Instead we headed to the Lost Coast Brewery where we anticipated encountering more media due to the announced campaign parties of both District Attorney Paul Gallegos (declared re-elected with 52.8%) and Measure T (declared adopted with 54.6%).

The Brewery was packed and the atmosphere was festive, somewhat like a grown-up frat party (complete with a random bucket falling from the second floor balcony to the ground right beside our table). Among the many people we got to chat with were Charles Douglas from the Humboldt Sentinel, Rob Ammerman from KHSU's Thursday Night Talk, and James Faulk from the Eureka Times-Standard. Perhaps the highlight was Jay (last name?) from Arcata, a guy I originally met when he randomly stood and spoke in support of the Voter Confidence Resolution at the Arcata City Council when it was adopted last summer. Jay came over to me with a huge smile and said he voted for me as a write-in candidate for Registrar of Voters. ("If nominated I will not run, if elected I will not serve.") Incumbent Carolyn Crnich ran for re-election unopposed.

Aside from the Fields Landing mystery, there was also trouble reported last night in Scotia, where they were unable to transmit their precinct data to the GEMS tabulator in Eureka. At about 11pm I spoke to Lindsey McWilliams, County Elections Manager. He said Scotia installed a digital phone line without consulting the elections department. As a result, according to McWilliams, the machines (not just the memory cards) were being transported to Rio Dell and then Fortuna to use an analog phone line (why two stops?). About the transport, Larry Trask, then the on-air person at KHUM radio, told me (off the air) that his person on site at the elections department saw uniforms delivering something in what looked like a pizza driver's delivery bag. Trask was not sure whether these were the full optical scan machines or just the memory cards.

I knew to call Trask and ask about the transmission problem because another KHUM DJ, Mike Dronkers, mentioned it to me earlier at the Brewery. Dronkers interviewed me around 8pm and seemed to have an epiphany on the air when I suggested the media should not report what they can't prove (unverified election results). When Dronkers told me about the transmission problem he approached me and said "Dude, you're going to love this." He said he was unclear about some details, but that one or more other places may have had transmission problems. I asked McWilliams if transmission problems originated in any other precincts but before he could answer he abruptly said one of his "rovers" was calling him and he had to go. I cannot yet confirm, but Trask's contact seeing that delivery at the elections department, and McWilliams routing Scotia's machines to Fortuna seems to suggest more than one location with a problem.

Parts of this report were written before my eyes failed for the evening on Tuesday. I'm completing this just prior to the 10am start time of the Voter Confidence Committee demonstration at the Elections Department in Eureka, 3033 H St. at Harris. I hope to have updates on some of these loose threads by tonight.

Posted by Dave Berman - 9:52 AM | Permalink
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Good story about Jay... by the way, I wrote you in for Registrar of Voters, too.

Posted by Anonymous Kathryn @ Jun 7, 2006, 8:05:00 PM
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