Thursday, October 20, 2005

Boulder County refuses open records request

We strongly object to Boulder County’s October 17th response to our October 2nd Colorado Open Records request.

Boulder County’s delays, objections, refusals, and cost barriers are nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to hide records needed to independently determine whether or not Boulder County has faithfully conducted an election which is secure, accurate, verifiable and transparent.

Boulder County does not have the authority to arbitrarily deny our request and hide from public scrutiny, records that might embarrass the County.

In its October 17th reply, Boulder County asserts that it has exerted essentially no control over the preparation and mailing of ballots. If this is actually true, the public has a right and a need to know.

We provide below a detailed response to your objections. We have temporarily moderated our request so that you can produce detailed descriptions of some files rather than the files themselves. This will give both of us time to work thru the legality of your refusal to produce records.

We are aghast to read in your response that there exist massive voids in the procedures used to monitor and control the security, accuracy, verifiability and transparency of this election. These voids threaten the integrity of this election which includes monumentally important statewide and local contests.

If these voids actually exist, Boulder County is failing in its duty to represent the best interests of the voters by assisting the Colorado Legislature and Secretary of State complete their constitutional duty to “secure the purity of elections, and guard against abuses of the elective franchise” – Colorado Constitution, Article VII, section 11.

If these voids exist, the seeds of distrust are planted, and there is no rational basis for trusting the results of this election as conducted by Boulder County.

We must have access to the records we have requested, or there will be no accountability for this election.

1. We do not understand the security risk to which you refer. The ballot images we wish to analyze have not been voted. Un-voted ballot images are not what the Secretary of State ruled on.
A. Ballot printing specification -- We assume that there was a computer file or files which contain information about voters, precincts, and ballot styles. This data, we assume, was needed to produce the PDF files. It is this file(s) we refer to when we speak of “files that were transmitted by Boulder County to HART”.

These files do not contain ballot images. We ask that the county produce a descriptive list of and copies of these computer files immediately.

B. Un-voted ballots – We do not accept your explanation of why you refuse to fulfill our request to produce the PDF files.Until this dispute is resolved, we ask that you at least provide complete descriptive information about the files. This does not require producing copies of the 353 PDF files.

The identification (name) of each file and its date and time of creation.
The identification of the ballot style of the ballot images on each file.
The identification of the specific computer/software upon which each file was created.
The identification of the person or persons who produced each file.
The number of ballot images on each file.
The serial numbers of the ballots on each file.

Because of delayed compliance, we ask that the county immediately produce complete descriptive information for at least a sample of these files.

C. Official return envelopes -- In addition to un-voted ballots, supporting materials were printed including the official return envelope. We assume that there was a computer file or files produced which contains the data printed on the official return envelopes including: voter name, address, precinct, ballot style, and possibly other information. These files do not contain ballot images. We ask that the county produce a descriptive list of and copies of these computer files immediately.

2. Since ballot packets have already been mailed, we now have access to live ballot packets.

A. Some ballots were delivered unsealed. Were not the ballot-packets to be sealed when they were mailed? Please provide a copy of the procedures used to verify that the envelopes were sealed.
B. The sample ballots you refer to are not exact photocopies of real ballots. For example, they do not include illustrative bar code/serial information. Please provide a descriptive list or matrix of all 353 ballot styles that identifies precinct, style, and number of ballots printed for each style.
C. We requested a copy of the Official Ballot Envelope (to include the voter-specific printing). Since we now have our own ballots to examine, we will no longer require a copy of the Official Ballot Envelope from the county.

3. Your response does not satisfy our request.

A. Version verification – If we correctly understand your reply, the county has no idea of which versions of software are loaded into the machines used to prepare the ballots. Does not the county create and maintain a record of exactly what software and hardware is used to create ballots and other election materials? Is it not required to maintain controls over the hardware and software being used to conduct Boulder County elections? Please expand your response.
B. Certification verification - If we understand your reply, the county has made no attempt to verify that the software used was certified. Hopefully this is an error in our interpretation of your response. Please expand your response, and also:
Are you aware that filed with the Secretary of State on September 13, 2004 is an unresolved, “formal complaint against the HART InterCivic electronic vote-tabulating equipment and the HART InterCivic election administration equipment”?
Are you aware that BOSS 3.4.0 and Ballot Now 2.1.0 are not included in the list of certified versions of HART products listed on the Secretary of State website?
C. Unapproved data transmission – We have been unable to locate in the Boulder County Mail Ballot Plan or its Security Plan any reference to data transmission of election materials including ballots and voter lists. Please provide a copy of the authorization to transmit via data communications the ballots and voter lists performed. Please provide a copy of the procedures used to secure and verify the security of these materials.

D. Verification procedure - We cannot tell from your description exactly how it was “verified that the ballot envelopes were labeled and inserted with the correct ballot style corresponding to the voter listed on the label”. Please provide a copy of the procedure and control sheets that show: Who did what and when on which ballots & envelopes. Records of errors detected and error free pieces. Detailed procedure and supporting data used to ensure that each voter got the correct ballot in their ballot packet.

4. We will need to discuss the ethics of paying money to Boulder County for data needed to exercise our right to verify that only eligible electors were provided ballots, that electors were provided the correct ballots, and that all eligible electors were provided a ballot. How much would you charge us to produce the files you suggest?

Because of delayed compliance, we ask that the county immediately produce a complete descriptive list of these computer files. We intend that you include any USPS Address Verification report files.

In closing, oOur concerns are legitimate and justified, and the county’s reply is not responsive.

As you are no doubt aware, Arapahoe County failed to perform its duty to protect the ballot box. They have mailed duplicate ballots to an undefined number of voters in at least four precincts. See Rocky Mountain News, October 19, 2005, “Some Arapahoe voters receive duplicate ballots”.

We insist that Boulder County immediately produce the files and records we have requested, or at least immediately produce the detailed descriptions of the files and copies of the records we have requested.

If these files and records are not timely produced, we will be denied our right to determine if any elements of the election should be challenged. And to file challenges if appropriate.

Al Kolwicz

Citizens for Accurate Mail Ballot Election Results
2867 Tincup Circle
Boulder, CO 80305

CAMBER is a dedicated group of volunteers who are working to ensure that every voter gets to vote once, every vote is counted once, and that every ballot is secure and anonymous.