Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Press Releasee: VCC Documents Problems In Humboldt's February Primary


Contact: Bob Olofson, 707-444-8764 rwolofson@sbcglobal.net

Voter Confidence Committee Documents Problems In Humboldt's February Primary
Election Watchdog Repeats Call For Hand-Counting Paper Ballots

March 10, 2008 -- During the recent 'Super Tuesday' primary election, the Humboldt Voter Confidence Committee sent observers to selected precinct polling places. While the election process was mostly free off technical and human glitches, the following problems were noted:

Several Accu-vote ballot scanners at different polling places jammed. Two were repaired within a few minutes with no further problems noted on those machines. A different scanner was reported by a poll worker at 12:30pm as having jammed about 10 times at that point in the day, while another poll worker referred to the same machine as jamming once every 2 - 3 ballots.

One poll observer reported that two different 'e-slate' voting machines showed a ballot count of two on the readout, while the printer tape said zero ballots, and the poll workers said that no one had voted on the machine. There were also two voting machines returned to election headquarters without having been first closed out per operating instructions.

Several instances were observed of paperwork being put in the wrong bag, one instance of an official seal being left unsecured (which could theoretically be used to re-seal the container after tampering with ballots inside,) and several instances of minor problems and delays in setting up or closing down equipment.

In the main vote counting room at County election headquarters (where the paper ballots are scanned and tabulated) between approximately 8:15pm and 10:50pm, the doors were left open and the room and access hallway unattended for periods of several minutes at a time.

A machine from a McKinleyville precinct was left overnight at the precinct rather than being returned to election headquarters.

All data from the e-slate voting machines was tabulated by an employee of the contractor that supplied the equipment, on a laptop brought by the employee.

There was apparently no specific time frame for the 'hash test' on the memory cards of the Accu-vote scanners. (This test is to assure that the secret proprietary code supplied by the vendors of the scanners has not been tampered with since it left the custody of the County elections office. The longer the hash test is delayed, the greater the possibility that a hacker could successfully re-program the card and then erase any signs of tampering with it.)

The VCC again acknowledge the dedication and competence of the County election office staff and the poll workers.

The VCC again called for an end to the use of all optical scanners (for counting paper ballots) and paperless voting machines, and a return to the more verifiable, transparent and secure practice of hand counting all paper ballots. The public are invited to obtain more information on election integrity issues at www.voterconfidencecommittee.org.
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