Friday, August 27, 2004

PRELIMINARY recommendations for improvement

The following recommendations are listed in no particular order, and are offered as suggestions to improve the process. They do not include recommendations by the other election officials.

  1. The computer systems used for the 2004 primary election should not be used for the general election unless they are first design-reviewed, repaired and certified.
  2. The procedures, forms, reports, and training used for the primary should not be used for the general election unless they are first repaired and tested.
  3. The ballot cast by voters must be 100% anonymous (secret). The counting system may record a unique identification number on the ballots AFTER they are marked, made secret and cast.
  4. All election records and computers must be secured before, during and after the election.
  5. The canvass board should have immediate access to the raw election records, not just a “touched up” version of the data.
  6. Election records should be made available to the canvass board in an electronic form suitable for importing into database and spreadsheet programs, and suitable for reviewing online.
  7. The canvass should convene before Election Day, not ten days after.
  8. Security procedures must be developed, tested and implemented before the November election. For example, computers were not functioning, software was loaded into the vote counting machine, and the Longmont facility was down, yet no record of these events was made available to the canvass board. Voting equipment is being operated by elections staff and by vendor personnel after the election, and there is no record of who is doing what or why. We are told that votes from the Longmont facility were transmitted by modem to the vote counting site, however, Logic and Accuracy Testers were assured that the votes were moved to the counting machine via MBB devices, and that no data communications or modems were involved.
  9. The counting system must be revised to collect and report proof that votes on ballots are correctly interpreted and counted.
  10. Forms, reports and training must be revised to use a common glossary. Currently different titles are used to identify the same thing, and near identical terms to identify different things.
  11. There is a question as to whether the HART system is legally qualified, certified and tested. There must be proof that voting systems are unmodified copies of certified systems.
  12. Logic & Accuracy testing must not use different procedures than the live election, and the testers should not be intimidated or removed for testing the system. When running the LAT, “under vote” decisions were made by people. However, during the live election, “under vote” decisions were made by the computer. This is an unacceptable change in procedure between the LAT and production work. We know of at least one class of ballot where the computer made an incorrect decision, and we do not know how many time this occurred. The LAT was blocked from testing the capability of the computer to consolidate votes from the seven stand-alone ballot scanning and interpretation computers. This is a fundamental function of the vote counting system and must be tested during the LAT.
  13. Boulder County has not conducted a professional acceptance test of the new voting system. Such a test, including both computers and all procedures, must be completed before the system is used again. The County failed to fulfill its public duty to protect the election when it used this system in production before verifying that it works.
  14. Boulder County must not deprive voters of a fair election.
  15. Federal and State laws protecting the interpretation of votes must be honored, and the computer must not be used to circumvent this obligation. A formal description of what constitutes a countable vote must be negotiated and published. Steps must be taken to minimize the number of situations where a vote will be treated differently based on who or what counted or rejected it.
  16. The election must be as open and transparent as permitted under the law.
  17. Watchers and media observers must not be barred from any election process with the exception of when the voter marks their ballot. Before this, ballots are unmarked and there is no risk of a secret ballot violation. After this, the marked ballots are anonymous, and again there is no risk of a secret ballot violation.
  18. The data needed by poll watchers, candidates, and the political parties must be provided when it is needed, not after it is approved by the Secretary of State.
  19. Judges, staff, and watcher procedures and training must be revised significantly and all personnel must be re-trained.
  20. We detected conditions that demonstrate that the voter registration system is insecure and inaccurate. It appears that the system cannot detect when a person registers to vote more than once. The system appears to lack data integrity controls – some of the records do not have an affiliation date, and this is needed for a Primary Election.
  21. The voter registration file used for the actual election is not the same as the file provided to the Republican Party, dated July 16, 2004 and identified as: “”*** PRIMARY CLOSE DATABASE ***”
  22. A formal chain of command must be published, and every person working on the election must be identified at all times by a tag that includes an easily readable number, a color code for the tasks the person is qualified and authorized to perform, and the person’s political party and name.