Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Black Box Voting

In a major step towards global centralization of election processes, the world's dominant Internet voting company has purchased the USA's dominant election results reporting company.

When you view your local or state election results on the Internet, on portals which often appear to be owned by the county elections division, in over 525 US jurisdictions you are actually redirected to a private corporate site controlled by SOE software, which operates under the name ClarityElections.com.

The good news is that this firm promptly reports precinct-level detail in downloadable spreadsheet format. As reported by BlackBoxVoting.org in 2008, the bad news is that this centralizes one middleman access point for over 525 jurisdictions in AL, AZ, CA, CO, DC, FL, KY, MI, KS, IL, IN, NC, NM, MN, NY, SC, TX, UT, WA. And growing.

As local election results funnel through SOE's servers (typically before they reach the public elsewhere), those who run the computer servers for SOE essentially get "first look" at results and the ability to immediately and privately examine vote details throughout the USA.

In 2004, many Americans were justifiably concerned when, days before the presidential election, Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell redirected Ohio election night results through the Tennessee-based server for several national Republican Party operations.

This is worse: This redirects results reporting to a centralized privately held server which is not just for Ohio, but national; not just USA-based, but global.

A mitigation against fraud by SOE insiders has been the separation of voting machine systems from the SOE results reports. Because most US jurisdictions require posting evidence of results from each voting machine at the precinct, public citizens can organize to examine these results to compare with SOE results. Black Box Voting spearheaded a national citizen action to videotape / photograph these poll tapes in 2008.

With the merger of SOE and SCYTL, that won't work (if SCYTL's voting system is used). When there are two truly independent sources of information, the public can perform its own "audit" by matching one number against the other.

These two independent sources, however, will now be merged into one single source: an Internet voting system controlled by SCYTL, with a results reporting system also controlled by SCYTL.

With SCYTL internet voting, there will be no ballots. No physical evidence. No chain of custody. No way for the public to authenticate who actually cast the votes, chain of custody, or the count.

SCYTL is moving into or already running elections in: the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Norway, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, India and Australia.

SCYTL is based in Barcelona; its funding comes from international venture capital funds including Nauta Capital, Balderton Capital and Spinnaker.

Here is the link to the press release regarding SYCTL's acquisition of SOE:

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/scytl-acquires-soe-software-becoming-the-leadin g-election-software-provider-2012-01-11

quote:"In 2007...the top 250 companies in the world had sales in excess of $14.7 trillion...an amount exceeding the GDP [Gross Domestic Product] of the United States or the European Union, $13.2 trillion and $13.7 trillion, respectively...combined sales of the top five (Wal-Mart, Exxon-Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, BP and General Motors) was nearly $1.5 trillion -- larger than the GDP of all but seven countries." -- Superclass: The Global Power Elite and the World They Are Making, by David Rothkopf

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If you believe Black Box Voting provides an important service, please note that we very much need your support. Will you consider becoming one of our monthly sponsors? Click here: http://www.blackboxvoting.org/donate.html More

(USA) - 1/12 - WHAT'S REALLY GOING ON IN IA, NH, AND SC - by Bev Harris

Despite what you see about who "won" Iowa and who "won" New Hampshire and who "won" South Carolina, that's not the main function of these very early contests. What they are really about is culling down the field, promptly, and this is not really based on who wins.

New Hampshire, and to a lesser extent Iowa and South Carolina, play a disproportionate role in removing your choice of candidates in the primary. While you watch the horse race in these three states, understand that if you live in any other state, you are going to have fewer candidate choices, or no chance to vote on the candidate of your choice at all.


If a candidate "exceeds expectations" built by TV punditry and whichever poll is being quoted at the time, three things happen:

1. TV pundits start the drumbeat, building public expectations about "inevitability" of the candidate who did "better than expected";

2. Donor money reroutes itself, pouring dollars into the newly inevitable candidate;

3. Media then reports on the candidate's prowess in fund raising, citing this newly found skill as reason to believe the candidate is even more inevitable.

The reverse (fewer votes than "expected") creates an even more definitive result:

1. Media speculates repetitively on when the candidate will drop out;

2. Donor funds for the candidate dry up;

3. Media cites weaker donations as evidence that the candidate cannot win;

4. The party begins pushing the candidate to get out of the way;

5. Articles begin focusing on the cost of primaries in states where people have not yet had an opportunity to vote (underlying message: why do these primaries?);

6. Pundits begin the new drumbeat: "The longer it takes for candidates to get out of the way, the more damage to the party's prospects of winning the general election in November."

This is why Iowa and New Hampshire are not really about winning. They are about pushing candidates out of the way citing failure to meet expectations, or surprise in exceeding them.

South Carolina, usually the third state to hold a primary contest, serves as the clean-up round, so that by Super Tuesday (when lots of big states have primaries) only a few candidate choices remain. Non-frontrunners still in the game get so strapped financially that they can't muster a fight.


The Iowa Republican caucus turned out to be impressively transparent, though of course TV pundits did exploit Iowa to tell people what to think for the next round.


New Hampshire uses Black Box Voting for over 90% of its votes (Black Box Voting = concealed vote-counting machines. This violates New Hampshire's own constitution which states that the votes must be counted "in public meeting").

I will publish a detailed, point-by-point description of several quite bad choke-points in New Hampshire election integrity tomorrow. Here's the short version, and a preview:

- All New Hampshire voting machines are programmed by a Massachusetts-based sole source no-bid contractor with a convicted narcotics trafficker at its helm;

- A crafty change in NH law now makes it illegal for the public to examine the real ballots under right to know law;

- A change in NH law in 2008 now makes most recounts impossible;

- New Hampshire does not follow its own legally required vote-stuffing safeguards.


New Hampshire will produce an anointed candidate who will "do better than expected" to become "inevitable." Some of the other frontrunners will be hammered down firmly with "worse than expected"; all week long before South Carolina we will get treated to a persuasive TV pundit parade telling us what we should think.

It's only gotten worse since 1988, when author Joan Didion wrote: "...those inside the process had congealed into a permanent political class, the defining characteristic of which was its readiness to abandon those not inside the process." (Political Fictions)

In South Carolina (where, as you may recall, the paperless ES&S iVotronic touchscreens gave us Alvin Greene in the 2010 Democratic primary), the counting process is not only entirely concealed, but the original record -- the voters own verified ballot -- is unrecoverable, and chain of custody on the count is unascertainable. By the way, it also violate the South Carolina constitution to conceal the vote counting process from the public.


I know, I know. People will write me and say "What should we do?" I always hear that just days before the election, when it's too late.

What you can do that might make a difference is this:

1) Think for yourself and ignore the pundits. Stop letting yourself get persuaded by a politicized media machine. Give your money to the candidate of your choice and vote for the candidate of your choice, and do not let any wonk who was invited onto a TV s... More

Permission to excerpt or reprint granted, with link to http://www.blackboxvoting.org

See below for details in this article:


1. Removed safeguards for its same-day registration system.
2. Ignores the law on ballot-stuffing safeguards
3. Breaks the chain of custody
4. Conceals vote-counting from the public, in violation of Article 32 of its own Constitution
5. Removed candidate recount rights (2009)
6. Made it illegal for public citizens or members of the press to examine the ballots after the election is over (2003)


1. Get involved with Protect the Count NH
2. Monitor the trap doors


Like the Iowa caucus system, it forces candidates to answer real questions from actual people. Political strategists like their candidates to plan their media (setting up media ops that are nothing short of laughable; placing their candidates in cornfields, in tanks, on factory assembly lines, donning catcher's mitts and plaid shirts and baseball caps.) Unscripted moments are forced on candidates in Iowa and New Hampshire, where locals won't vote-ya if you hide behind photo ops.


Unlike the impressively transparent public process in Iowa this year (where the public could spot errors or malfeasance so well that mistakes actually saw the light of day), New Hampshire is currently the Decepticon of transparent elections. For each transparent election procedure, they've built a trap door.


If you control who or what gets on the ballot, you control the outcome. This is the arena for ballot access fights. If you dominate public persuasion, you can (usually) control the outcome. This is the arena where campaign finance is fought. If you draw your own playing field, you control regional outcomes. This is the arena where redistricting take place. All this happens before the election. Now we move to control points for the voting process itself:

1. WHO CAN VOTE: Where voter list stuffing and purging play out;
2. WHO DID VOTE: The ringside seat for ballot-stuffing;
3. CHAIN OF CUSTODY: Magician's territory: When real ballots leave public view, substitutes may appear;
4. THE COUNT: Voting machine program and the tally process.


TRAP DOOR #1 - (WHO CAN VOTE): Democrats have been clamoring for same-day registration, and we saw Republicans take advantage of it in Iowa's 2012 Caucus. A keen idea, but not when you remove its safeguards.

The safeguard for same-day registration is the ability for any person to see and authenticate same-day registration applications. New Hampshire allows same-day registration, but excludes the registration applications from public inspection. What you're left with is a checklist (New Hampshire's name for a poll list) which contains a list of names appended to it by a poll worker.

In 2008, the presidential primary checklist for a northern New Hampshire town called Woodstock was spotted on the floor of a white cargo van by an alert citizen. This van was speeding around southern New Hampshire, driven by file clerks Peter "Hoppy" Falzone and Butch Dubois. Ballot pickup schedules showed that they hadn't been to Woodstock. Appended to the Woodstock checklist were a motley list of hand-written names, lacking addresses, purporting to be same day registrants.

Susan Pynchon, the citizen who spotted the checklist and later examined it, asked to examine the Election Day registration forms that must accompany same-day registrants. But in New Hampshire, that's against the law.

No member of the public or the media can examine any of the documents which authenticate same-day registrants. No one knows if the names appended to the checklist are real or copied from a phone book during lulls in voting.

TRAP DOOR #2 - (WHO DID VOTE): A telltale sign for ballot box stuffing is when votes exceed voters. Here are voter/vote totals from Swanzey in New Hampshire's 2008 presidential primary:

1,591 votes - 1,333 voters = 258 impossible Democratic votes
1,092 votes - 951 voters = 141 impossible Republican votes

Documentation: http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/157/Swanzey-72828.pdf

The total number of impossible votes in Swanzey alone were 258 + 141 = 399

The "Swanzey Stuffing" does have a positive side: At least Swanzey reported their impossible numbers promptly to the Secretary of State. A citizen caught it, and (one would hope), the secretary of state had an opportunity to investigate the incident. But they didn't.

In 2010, though it is required by law to report to the secretary of state the number of votes and voters, towns did not report it. An alert public citizen, Deborah Sumner, noticed the absence of this required ballot-stuffing safeguard and brought it to the attention of the secretary of state, the... More

(USA) 1/12 - IOWA: ISSUES OF INTEGRITY FOR THE IOWA REPUBLICAN CAUCUS - By Bev Harris - (Links to all referenced pieces at end; a concise list of HOW TO PROTECT THE IOWA CAUCUS is at the end of this article.)

Brad Friedman at Bradblog.com reports on some key procedures in the 2012 Iowa Republican caucus. At issue is just how transparent and public the process is, and whether there are any holes in the cheese. Fewer holes than 2008, it seems. A bit of diligence on the part of caucus participants will be needed (see end of this article for what to do).

There is also some consternation from concerned citizens about a recent Politico.com story, which reports that the Iowa statewide caucus counting will be moved to an undisclosed location, its author chiding those who question the transparency behind such a move as "conspiracy minded types." To be clear about this, insisting on transparency is a necessary and patriotic element of running any public election, and ridiculing public citizens who examine transparency is kind of embarrassing. For the reporter. Not the citizens.

The truth is, the counting process, even if it is moved to a secret location, will not destroy transparency if the process I outline at the end of this article is followed.

In order to protect any election, we need to boil the process down to its simplest components, refuse to take our eye off them, and understand the difference between a public election, which is democratic in nature, and a non-public election, which is simply a bit of theatre.


You can't get away from it. Elections are composed of two crucial things that lots of Americans don't love too much: (1) Arithmetic; and (2) Accounting

The ARITHMETIC needs to add up. The ACCOUNTING needs to be available to the public, and the numbers have to match up. I'll show you exactly how to do that below, in the section called WHAT TO DO IN IOWA.

Never forget that to have an election process that is truly democratic, the key word is not "election", but "PUBLIC." If the accounting is concealed from the public, under no circumstances can the election be described as public.

Arithmetic = 1+1+1+1 (etc) = ____ (final tally)

Accounting =
(1) Who can vote (voter list)
(2) Who did vote (poll list)
(3) Chain of custody
(4) the count

Components (1), (2), and (4) each generate a number, which must match up, and must be something the public can see and authenticate. Component (3), Chain of Custody, helps make sure the numbers in the other components are the real thing, not a substitute.

The numbers have to match up, like this:

[a] - You can't have fewer people who CAN vote than people who DID vote. (500 people who CAN vote … 800 people who DID vote = IMPOSSIBLE)

[b] - You can't have more votes COUNTED than people who DID VOTE. (1,500 votes COUNTED … 900 people who DID vote = IMPOSSIBLE)


As reported by Bradblog.com, the key elements in the Iowa Caucus accounting will be public. We think. This will enable caucus-goers and the general public to see and authenticate the essential accounting. We hope.

Keep in mind that if you successfully manipulate any ONE of the four crucial accounting areas (who can vote, who did vote, chain of custody, the count), you can take the whole election.

For this reason, I will caution you to beware of any election process that concentrates control into a funnel at any stage of the contest. In the past, the Iowa Republican caucus was a funnel; this year, we think, it will not be. But just in case, let's examine what an election funnel looks like, so you will recognize it if you see it.


You can set up something that looks very welcoming, very public, very transparent, which I call the wide end of the funnel. You can choke off public scrutiny by creating a funnel later in the process, fooling most of the people who thought their participation at the wide end meant it was a public process.

A good example of an election funnel is AmericansElect.org, which seduces the public into believing they control the process because the front end feels very open, very public. However, the Internet voting process at the end closes off public ability to see and authenticate who actually voted, chain of custody, or the count.

If you narrow the process into a funnel, removing public ability to see part of the accounting, you can completely alter an election outcome. Therefore, all four crucial components need to remain wide-open all through the process.

In any election, watch for any situation that narrows public ability to see. The election is most at risk, and is likely to be stolen, at that narrow point.

PAST PROBLEM AREA: CHAIN OF CUSTODY - This area has been my beef with the Iowa Republican caucus in the past. In Iowa, the funnel has traditionally appeared at chain of custody.

At the wide end of the funnel, we have warm bodies in the caucus r... More

(USA) 10/11 - 15,000 VOTERS LEFT OFF 2008 VOTER LIST IN SHELBY COUNTY TENNESSEE - PERMISSION TO REPRINT OR EXCERPT GRANTED, with link to http://www.blackboxvoting.org

20% of All 18-year Olds Omitted -- Data Entry Failure for Last-Minute Registration Forms to Blame

By Bev Harris: Part 2A of a 5-part series on voter list data

There is still time to correct these problems by 2012. This story is not just about Shelby County, Tennessee, where I believe the elections commission is competently addressing these problems for 2012. Last-minute dumps of new voter registration forms was a national problem in 2008, and across America voters reported that when they showed up to vote, their name was missing from the list.

The 2008 presidential election brought millions of new voters to the polls, with enthusiasm especially high among youth and minority voters. Yet in Shelby County (the home of the great city of Memphis), over 15,000 voters, disproportionately young or Black voters, were omitted from the list of valid voters at the time of early voting; by Election Day, the names finally made it to the list.

These omissions correlate with an influx of last-minute voter registration forms. This study highlights the importance of third-party registration groups promptly submitting new registration forms. In some states, 48-hour submission is now a legal requirement, with somewhat draconian fines for failure to comply. Regardless of whether prompt submission is the law, it is important to emphasize the need to educate voter registration groups to promptly submit new registration forms. Like taking checks to the bank for your employer; like an insurance agent who must promptly submit forms for those he insures; like a real estate agent who has to submit bids immediately, voter registration groups have a fiduciary-like duty to the voter, who has every reason to believe they will be registered timely after signing forms and entrusting them to a responsible person.

In Memphis, approximately 30,000 new registration forms flowed in during the last five weeks before the 2008 presidential election. Only half of these made it onto the voter list by the start of early voting. Apparently, the number of new forms being submitted was greater than they could enter into the database on time.


In 2008, Actor Tim Robbins showed up to vote in New York, and was told he was not on the list. After asserting his right to vote, his registration was eventually located and he was allowed to vote a normal ballot.(1)

Reports flowing in to Black Box Voting indicate that the "Tim Robbins" problem happened all over America. In fact, it happened right next to me. When I went to vote, the woman beside me was told she was not on the voter list. She was deaf, and the poll worker made no attempt to explain anything comprehensible to her, so I assisted. Instead of telling her to vote a provisional ballot, the poll worker told her to register and come back next year. After I asserted her right to vote a provisional ballot, the poll worker found her registration after all and she was allowed to vote a normal ballot.

*Registered voters who are told they are not on the voter list may vote a "provisional ballot", an important right, but provisionals are second-class ballots. Provisional ballots are examined after the election and if deemed legitimate, are counted. Unfortunately, poll worker errors sometimes cause these ballots to be rejected; also, poll workers sometimes fail to inform voters of their right to provisional ballots; and provisional ballots are not factored in to Election Night winner projections.

We have not been able to learn much about how these errors take place, or quantify how many people were left off the lists. Until now. I obtained 87 Shelby County voter lists from 2006 through 2010. Examining these lists reveals a staggering scope of voter list omissions. Two and a half percent -- 15,199 total voters -- were left off the early voting list. Of these, 9,080 weren't submitted until the last day of registration.


As a self-governing people, we have the right to authenticate the basic accounting in our own elections. The most essential parts of this accounting are:
1. Who can vote (the voter list)
2. Who did vote (the participating voter list)
3. Chain of custody
4. The count

Obstructions or inaccuracies in any of these four areas can create an unfair election. Inaccuracies in the voter list will certainly affect the count if valid voters cannot vote, and may affect the count if invalid voters can vote (I will quantify invalid votes for 2008 in Part B of this report).


Voter lists show a "Registration Date." In Shelby County, the last day to register to vote for the 2008 presidential election was Oct. 6, 2008. The later the voter registration forms were submitted, the fewer voters made it on to the voter list at early voting:

Date form Submit... More

(USA) - 10/11: AMERICANSELECT.ORG = TROJAN HORSE, EXCEPTIONALLY DANGEROUS - There is a rather frightening trojan horse making its way into American elections, called AmericansElect.org, or as I think of it, AmericanSelect.org, because they have positioned themselves to secretly choose presidential candidates for us. What is really insidious about this is that NO ONE is calling them on their unaccountable, undemocratic, unwatchable, and completely nonpublic and unauthenticatable methodology.

Now, this may be mainly well-intentioned but naive folks trying to address a problem, but if this catches hold without critics, we'll see it in more mainstream elections, and that will be the end for any semblance of a democratic system.

Americans Elect is using Internet voting, controlled entirely by whatever insider runs the server, to do their thing. (Why don't we stop throwing democracy in the toilet with pretend-democratic ideas that actually concentrate power and remove all ultimate control from the people?)

The candidates selected by the public will only be reported if those with control of the server choose to let that be so, and that is a pseudo-democratic system, a magic show, a sham.

When I reminded one of the listserves about this, I was asked, "then how do we make the system more accessible to minor parties without resources?" To that I wrote:

You present a false framework, the implication being that the necessity of some system for parties without resources outweighs the right to self-government itself. The primary right is the public right to self-govern. It does take resources to mount what is essentially a national advertising campaign, or at least, very good planning and execution using alternatives like social media.

But for elections to be democratic, the public must be able to retain control over the process. If any of the four essential parts of information are not something the public can see and authenticate, you've just thrown the whole form of government out the window.

People need to see this more clearly. In the Soviet Union, they had elections, but the deal was that the government would tell you who won. Those were elections, but not PUBLIC elections. The defining term for what constitutes a democratic system is the word PUBLIC, not the word "election". Any election which is constructed such that a government or other insider can just come out and tell us who won, without our being able to authenticate, is on its face undemocratic.

No, a "receipt" does not suffice or do much of anything at all. Imagine that your accountant gives you a paper that states your profit and loss and what's in the bank, but says you can only verify one receipt. The only valid authentication process must enable public authentication of the whole pool at once (rather than one at a time, which creates a moving target).

The four things the public must be able to see and authenticate are:

1) Who can vote (the voter list)-- how the heck are they dealing with THIS at Americans Elect?
2) Who did vote
3) Chain of custody
4) The count

Internet voting, with or without "receipt", makes ALL FOUR key areas impossible for the public to authenticate.

The best way is still to vote privately in a public setting (polling place) and to count publicly before the votes are moved out of public view, with public posting of the list of who is eligible to vote before the election (the whole list, not a one-by-one look yourself up method), and a public posting of who did vote within 24 hours of poll closing, with a permanent, voter-verified record of the pollbook (ie, voter signature at polls, on paper not etch-a-sketch).

I am sorry if this makes it challenging for minor parties, but the solution is not to discard the democratic system itself in search of easier access to the ballot. More

(USA) - 9/11 - RACIAL DILUTION OF VOTING RECORDS - Part 1 of a five-part series on voter records
By Bev Harris

In June 2007, a steady voter in Memphis named Effie Washington was a Black woman. But before the 2008 presidential election, Effie's voting record was changed to read "gender: man; race: other". In June 2009 her voting record was changed, to "gender: woman; race: other".

At one time Sharonda Williams* was listed as a Black woman. She was purged from Shelby County (TN) voter rolls with a code indicating she had moved out of the county, even though she lived in Millington, a Memphis suburb in Shelby County. Sharonda was issued a different voter ID number and then listed as "race: other". Sharonda voted at her polling place in the May 2010 primary, selecting a Democratic ballot, which is marked as "cast" in the electronic poll book. But that poll book log never was made public, and the official voter history records report that Sharonda Williams did not vote. In August 2010, Williams is reported as voting Republican.

*There are only two persons on the Shelby County voter list named Sharonda Williams. One has a birthdate in 1978, one in 1981. The information above pertains to the one born in 1981.


First, let's take a look at general bookkeeping issues before racial identity comes into the mix.

For an election to be valid, the books have to balance. And for an election to be democratic, the public must be able to see and authenticate the following:

1) Who can vote (the voter list)
2) Who did vote (the participating voter list, which is later stored as the voter history)
3) Chain of custody
4) The count

When dead people, duplicates, and persons long departed for other jurisdictions sit on the voter list, they can vote -- or more precisely -- be voted for, by insiders, creating a powerful mechanism for fraud. Though the public can never control the hearts, minds, and bribe-sensitivity of every person with inside access to an election, we can mitigate fraud in a meaningful way through full public transparency, by developing the habit of public examinations of who can vote, who did vote, chain of custody and the count.

WHO CAN VOTE: The public needs to be able to examine voter lists to ascertain whether the people on these lists actually live there, are still alive, and that there is only one of each person on the voter list. Without accurate voter lists and public ability to authenticate them, an election fails the test of transparency and opens itself up for fraudulent results.

WHO DID VOTE: When votes are counted, they must match up to the number of people who voted. You cannot have 100 votes if you have only 90 voters.

In a primary election, you can't have more Democratic votes than Democratic ballots; likewise for Republican votes and ballots. In many states, voters choose a party affiliation when they register; in others, like Tennessee, voters can choose which party ballot to vote on Election Day. Regardless of which method is used, you can't have more Republican votes than Republican voters or ballots. Without an accurate record of who voted, and in primaries, who voted Republican or Democratic, an election fails the test of transparency and opens itself up for fraudulent counts.

Some people may try to tell you that if the voter list is wrong, or the list of who voted or what party ballot they voted happens to be incorrect, this has nothing to do with the vote count itself. Not true.

If you have 280 Republican primary votes and just 240 Republican ballots cast, one or the other of those counts is just flat wrong. Such an election cannot be valid, because it is based on impossible numbers.

If a dog casts a vote, like Duncan the dog did in Washington State's absentee voting system, or a poll worker casts votes on behalf of dead people, as in Shelby County in 2006 (resulting in invalidation of Ophelia Ford’s initial election), or if some people have two votes cast in their names, as happened in Shelby County in the August 2010 contest, the election cannot be valid because it is based on invalid votes.


The above information pertains in a generic way to all elections. In locations where a significant number of voters belong to a racial minority, additional factors come into play with voter list accuracy.

Many states use a racial identifier on their voter list, originally set up to protect minority voters. The idea is that by identifying the historically targeted voters in a given jurisdiction, it will ascertainable if they have been targeted for disenfranchisements, such as non-working voting machines, ballot shortages, or procedural "glitches."

In locations with strong political affiliations tied to race, racial identity provides another check and balance against wrong election results. If you know that the Cuban population in a particular location votes heavily Republican, or that the ... More

(USA) 9/11 - COURT AFFIRMS CITIZEN RIGHT TO INSPECT VOTED BALLOTS - A Colorado court has knocked down an anti-democratic effort by Colorado election clerks who have been trying to block the public from inspecting ballots in Saguache County, ruling that citizens indeed DO have the right to examine voted ballots (which are, by the way, anonymous).

Public examination of ballots doesn't entirely guarantee that the count was correct, but this IS a key component of the public right to self-governance.

Public right to validate its own elections lives at the very core of our constitutional right to self-govern. It is our tax money that pays for our government; we own it. If government workers are allowed to be in position to install themselves and choose representatives for us, we do not have true control over selecting our representation. If we lack the ability to see and authenticate our own choosing process, we actually are choosing our representation only if those holding certain positions inside government want to allow it. In a word: Unconstitutional.

Secrecy is antithetical to democratic systems, but if secrecy is allowed in the choosing process itself, it crushes the bedrock on which the democratic system sits. The public can never cede the choosing process over to government insiders, based on "trust", because to do so actually removes the democratic system, quietly replacing it with a pseudo, a con, a wish, a pretender.

The public must be able to see and authenticate four things in public elections:
1. Who can vote (voter list)
2. Who did vote (participating voter list)
3. Chain of custody
4. The count

Several states have enacted what I think we should call "corruption protection laws" to prohibit the public from exercising its right to validate its own elections. In Colorado, ballots are a public record but certain election clerks have refused to comply with the Colorado Open Records Act, denying public requests to inspect ballots and copies of ballots.

New Hampshire, in an act of legislative subterfuge (key records on who did what now missing from New Hampshire state archives), quietly passed a law in 2003 containing an obscure paragraph which excludes ballots from right to know law. (more: http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/8/81673.html )

The public used to be able to look at ballots in Washington State, but Washington recently changed the definition of "ballot" in its election statutes, and is now using this changed definition clause to block citizens from examining ballots.

Colorado clerks have tried (and in Aspen, have so far succeeded) blocking the public from examining ballots to compare with election results. An exception: El Paso County, whose clerk allowed the public to inspect ballots there. Black Box Voting is assisting with sponsorship of litigation on the Aspen issue. (more: http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/8/81647.html and http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/133/80769.html )

A quasi-governmental organization called the Colorado Clerks Association (paid for with taxpayer funds, but claiming it is not subject to open records laws or sunshine requirements for its meetings) has aggressively fought the public over right to examine ballots. (more: http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/8/81647.html ) The court decision in the Saguache County case is a crucial step to enforce public rights and controls.

Examining ballots after they have been taken out of public view does not suffice to validate the count, because #3, chain of custody, is missing. The same government workers who have access to altering vote counts control the chain of custody.

The best way to use ballot examination to validate the count is at polling places on Election Night. Any method that allows the public to see and authenticate the count, before ballots leave public view, is better than what we are doing now. For example: If using voting machine ballot scanning, add a FREE procedure, (takes only 20 minutes for 1200 ballots), like this: Deal ballots out like a deck of cards and let public videotape each ballot face, front and back; or -- best, when properly administered -- hand count at the polling place in public view on Election Night with public allowed to videotape the details (costs only one-fifth of machine count, and locations which hand count frequently beat machine count locations in speed of results on Election Night). Absentee voting conceals who actually cast the ballots and facilitates vote-stuffing and voter identity theft, and should be limited to need-only. But these are separate issues.

First, the public must be ALLOWED to examine ballots. This essential public voting right is currently thwarted in New Hampshire, Washington, Kansas, Utah and several other states.

The Colorado decision validates public right to examine ballots in Colorado. Florida routinely allows ballot examinations by the public. Michigan citizens recently examined and videotaped voted ballots. As excerpt from the Denver Post below points out, th... More

(USA) 8/11 - NEW REPORT ON KEY PUBLIC SAFEGUARDS: "WHO CAN VOTE" - "WHO DID VOTE" I've been absent from the public eye for nearly four months, involved one of the most comprehensive examinations of voting information since 2005. I analyzed a sequential set of 80 voter history lists, 1,000 electronic poll book reports, a dozen master electronic poll book records, 50 participating voter lists, internal worksheets on purges, transaction logs for updates and changes in voter lists, user guides, correspondence and staff training materials. The findings will help citizens oversee the 2012 election. My five-part report for citizen oversight of WHO CAN VOTE / WHO DID VOTE will be released at http://www.blackboxvoting.org, one major report per week, throughout the month of September 2011.

Four things the public must be able to see and authenticate:
1. Who can vote (the voter list)
2. Who did vote (participating voter list)
3. Chain of custody
4. The count

In what I believe is a truly pioneering evaluation, I'm going to take the public inside crucial parts of the voter list system -- the lists that dictate who can vote, and the lists that report who did vote (the crucial check and balance which MUST MATCH the number of votes cast.)

In 2008, actor Tim Robbins went to vote in the presidential election and was told he was not registered. Only after repeated and firm assertion that he had registered to vote, and a considerable delay, was he allowed to vote. What happened? I have uncovered data that shows exactly how this situation can happen, and why it is likely to happen again in the 2012 presidential election unless simple steps are taken to resolve a widespread issue.

In Wisconsin, citizens who checked their voter records found them to be inaccurate. The histories reported that they had not voted in elections when they had; that they had voted absentee when they had not. (But who cares?) Your voter history is used to determine whether to keep or purge you from the rolls. Your vote method history (absentee, early, at polls) needs to MATCH the election results record. In other words, the number of absentee votes must MATCH the number of people in the voter history who voted absentee. Inaccurate voter histories will produce wrongful purging. Participating voter lists that don't match number of votes violate one of the most crucial safeguards against vote count tampering.

Voter lists have to be updated, with changed addresses and so forth; how do such actions put you at risk for wrongful purging? I have located specific areas where procedural protections need to be added in order to prevent voter updates from producing wrongful purges. And what about "rightful purging"? The Help America Vote Act required cleansing of voter lists, which became a controversial political talking point. I'll show you just how cluttered with duplicates the voter lists had become, and the immense job it was to clean them up.

Demographics are often cited to support or negate election results. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 contains provisions for tracking racial demographics in locations with a history of problems. These "Voting Rights" locations, by federal law, track the number of Black voters (and sometimes Hispanic, Asian or other minority groups). But are the reported demographics accurate? I found that these demographics are becoming increasingly inaccurate in at least one racially polarized county. Yet the demographics are frequently cited to tell the public the electronic count must be accurate because it "matches the demographics." (What does that statement mean if the demographics are inaccurate?)

When then-US Representative Cynthia McKinney (later 2008 Green Party candidate for president) requested to examine the list of who voted in her 2006 congressional election, she was never given a thing. They used electronic poll books and no one seemed to know exactly what the poll list would look like. I have obtained approximately one thousand electronic poll logs, along with their accompanying master files. I will show you exactly what they look like, what to ask for, how to examine them, what safeguards are crucial to reduce risk with electronic poll books, now widely used in the USA.

Are there any problems with the software design in the ES&S/Diebold ExpressPoll system? (You betcha.) As they say, humans err but a computer can REALLY mess things up.

How does the voter list interact with the vote counting process, and could it be used to tamper? It's not surprising that the voter list would supply a number of voters per precinct to be used with election results, to track turnout percentage. I WAS surprised, however, to see a more intimate relationship; one that could be used like a middleman, using the voter list software to actually tamper with the vote count itself.

In absentee voting locations -- and over 25 states now have no-fault absentee voting -- inaccurate "who voted" lists offer a direct connection to vote stuffing for insiders willing to exploit the lists.

I will also be po... More

(NH) 4/11 - "THE INVISIBLE HAND" - A CASE STUDY IN STRIPPING AMERICAN CITIZENS OF THEIR RIGHTS - New questions on election transparency have surfaced in New Hampshire, where the powerful First-In-The-Nation presidential primary will take place in 2012. If New Hampshire is to have its thumb on the scale in presidential politics, transparency needs to be an absolute requirement. In a bizarre chain of events, nontransparency was entered surreptitiously into a New Hampshire statute in 2003.


Ballots are an open record under Colorado law though clerks are fighting the public on this. Marilyn Marks, supported by Black Box Voting, is litigating over wrongful denial of public right to inspect Colorado ballots. This is currently in the Colo. Supreme Court now (Looking good so far ... more on that below).

In Wisconsin where a hot political recount is taking place, the public can opt to examine ballots with or without a recount. In Michigan, the public can even take pictures of ballots. In Florida, a consortium of news organizations examined ALL the ballots from the 2000 presidential election. In California, two counties (Humboldt and Yolo) make photocopies of all the ballots available to the public for examination.

But in 2003, New Hampshire ballots were ever-so-quietly EXCLUDED from public right to know. How could this happen?


Black Box Voting director Bev Harris, board member Nancy Tobi, and an extraordinary New Hampshire citizen named Deborah Sumner conducted an investigation this month into New Hampshire's action to exempt ballots from its Right-to-Know law. What we found was shocking.

From: Deborah Sumner
Subject: The mystery of why ballots are exempted from NH Right to Know Law

"Still trying to track down more info on why ballots were exempted from NH right to know law. It seems to me, if there was any discussion, it was removed from the official record or took place behind closed doors."

Sumner learned that in 2003 the New Hampshire State Senate sneaked an extraneous amendment into an unrelated bill, HB 627, pertaining to defining domicile to comply with a Help America Vote requirement.

In other words, in a bill about residency requirements for voter registration, suddenly, magically, and out of thin air, an amendment appeared to exclude ballots from New Hampshire right to know law.

"No evidence the amendment had a public hearing," Sumner writes. "Original bill did in the House."


Both the New Hampshire House and Senate must pass the bill, and it must be identical in form.

In the case of 2003 House Bill 627, the house passed a bill which had nothing to do with excluding ballots from public right to know.

The senate got the bill, went into committee, had a hearing and obtained a detailed opinion from the attorney general, all pertaining to a bill that had NO LANGUAGE WHATSOEVER about removing ballots from public oversight.


I traveled to New Hampshire and examined the file on this bill, requesting all notes, minutes, committee actions and testimony. Here is the curious timeline:

MARCH 2003: The House Elections Committee had a hearing and invited several officials to discuss the bill, which had NO LANGUAGE about excluding ballots from right to know law.

MARCH 2003: The House passed the bill, which included NO LANGUAGE about excluding ballots from right to know law.

APRIL 30, 2003: The Senate Internal Affairs Committee had a hearing on HB 627. At this time there was NO LANGUAGE about excluding ballots from right to know law.

APRIL 30, 2003: Bud Fitch from the Attorney General's office provided a legal analysis on the bill which contained NO LANGUAGE about excluding ballots from right to know law.

MAY 9, 2003: Suddenly, magically, and with no notes, testimony, hearing, legal analysis, or any visible explanation or discussion, an amendment appeared in the Senate bill to exclude ballots from right to know. This amendment was passed by the Senate.

JUNE 2003: The House saw what the Senate did to the bill. They REFUSED TO AUTHORIZE the version of the bill containing an exclusion of ballots from right to know law.


JUNE 2003: When the House refuses to concur with the Senate, a "Committee of Conference" is called to see if they can get together on the language. The Committee of Conference REMOVED the offending language about excluding ballots from public right to know.

JUNE 24, 2003: The bill, with the offensive language removed, was then passed by both House and Senate.


JUNE 30, 2003 a murky little amendment posing as a "technical amendment" was passed. This amendment is both improperly vague in its wording and illegal in its implementation.


After both houses pass a bill, it is sent to the "Enr... More

4-22-09: Arizona A.G. releases results ... questions linger
by Jim March, with addendum by Bev Harris

Arizona AG Releases Official RTA Results:
Election A Clean Bill Of Health, Pima County Elections...Not So Much...


At a press conference today in Tucson, AZ Attorney General Terry Goddard released the results of the 2006 Pima County RTA election handcount. His office says that most ballots are present and accounted for save for less than 100, and the hand count totals match the machine count of 2006 to within .01% - variances of 300 to 500 votes between the two questions, in an election with over 120,000 votes cast.

This seems to be an end to the RTA controversy...but not quite.


Former NSA computer guru Mickey Dunahoe went over the high-resolution video of the handcount this week, and managed to do his own accurate-to-the-ballot count of a precinct box. This precinct contained around 1,500 ballots – filling the 12” tall box to the brim without overstuffing. The count we had managed to perform during the election was of a box of mail-in votes, counting about 1,240 or so before box-bulging began.

This would indicate that mail-in votes were literally thicker cardstock than the precinct votes. By basing our count estimates on thicker mail-in votes, our estimates on the precinct vote were off by up to 300 votes a box (with 55 precinct boxes).

When asked about the difference, the AG's office admitted not even noticing a possible difference in paper stock for the ballots.

We'll be getting the full paper trail from this "investigation" soon, and will try to revisit this and other issues.


The AG's office made three mistakes with the handcount process.

* They didn't try and do a tally of counted precinct votes against either the original statement of votes cast (SOVC) report or against the polltapes and/or pollworker “end of day report” (also known as “the yellow sheet” in Arizona). IF the paper record was manipulated, it would be easier to fake the numbers for vote totals rather than try and get fake paper ballots lined up in the correct ballot boxes. Auditing to a precinct detail level is a barrier against paper swap or alteration frauds.

* They didn't attempt to confirm paper ballot authenticity with spot-checks under a microscope or ink age analysis, or even an informal look at why the same ballot boxes hold more precinct ballots than absentee ballots.

EASY MICROSCOPE EXAM: The newest “bal... More

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