Thursday, August 26, 2004

Board could not verify numbers of ballots cast and counted

Progress day-4

The canvass board was not provided with a count of ballots cast.

One Republican and two Democratic temporary workers and I attempted to tabulate the count of ballots cast for each of the three elections, Republican, Democratic and Libertarian.

The canvass board and the temporary workers failed to tabulate the count of ballots cast, as described below.

Number of ballots cast

Earlier attempts to determine the number of ballots cast by counting precinct sign-in slips failed. Sign-in slips do not accurately record the party affiliation and precinct of the voter.

Earlier attempts to determine the number of ballots cast by inspecting the signatures in the registration book failed. The registration book does not indicate to which party an unaffiliated voter affiliates. Further, the registration book does not indicate which ballot (REP, DEM, or LIB) the voter was issued.

Boulder County did not maintain a poll book, so there is no easy to use, verifiable source for the number of ballots cast.

  • CRS 1-1-104 (27) "Pollbook" means the list of eligible electors to whom ballots are delivered or who are permitted to enter a voting machine for the purpose of casting their votes at an election conducted under this code.
  • CRS 1-7-109 (1) The election judges shall keep a pollbook which shall contain one column headed "names of voters" and one column headed "number on ballot". The name and the number on the ballot of each eligible elector voting shall be entered successively under the appropriate headings in the pollbook.
  • CRS 1-8-108 The designated election official shall keep a list of names and precinct numbers of eligible electors applying for absentee ballots, together with the date on which each application was made, the date on which the absentee ballot was sent, and the date on which each absentee ballot was returned. If an absentee ballot is not returned or if it is rejected and not counted, that fact shall be noted on the list. The list is open to public inspection under proper regulations.

We are told that the Secretary of State waived some aspects of these laws for Boulder County.

To determine the number of ballots cast, we chose to find out for each election:

  1. How many ballots were printed?
  2. How many ballots were unused, replaced, or duplicated?
  3. How many absentee ballots were mailed to electors but not returned to the clerk?
  4. How many ballots (net) were cast by the voter, but were not qualified to be counted?

From these facts, the number of ballots cast might be calculated by the formula:

BALLOTS CAST = (1) – (2) – (3)

This formula is helpful because it is based on verifiable facts -- printed ballots, ballots that cannot have been cast, and absentee ballots that were verifiably sent and not returned to the clerk. All remaining ballots must have been cast and must now be in locked ballot boxes or rejected ballot stacks.

No printed-ballot control

There is no report that consolidates the number of ballots printed by election, precinct, and voting method. Such a compilation is needed to help verify that votes are counted in the correct places.

To make forward progress, we attempted to calculate/estimate the number of ballots printed for each party’s election, but we discovered that data was either missing, not verifiable, or not in a form that can be used for the canvass.

In addition, we discovered serious functional and security problems with the HART ballot printing system. Multiple ballots were printed with the identical serial number.

Separate logs of ballots printed are not linked together so it is not possible to determine if any are missing, and the log entries do not identify what type of ballot is printed (party, style, precinct, etc.). There is no summary report showing the number of ballots printed by type. The ballot numbering and tracking system is not secure or verifiable.

We also discovered a security problem with the administrative system. Some judges were directed to issue sample ballots when the stock of real ballots ran out. We are told that these sample ballots were duplicated and counted, but there is no provision for tracking the effect of these sample ballots on the accounting system.

In addition, the HART system does not provide a verifiable report of ballots that were withdrawn from the inventory. Some ballots that were printed for use in early voting were counted with the precinct ballots. Voters who applied to vote in the Republican Primary appear to have been given a ballot for the Democratic primary, or a ballot for a different precinct.

Apparent violation of Colorado statutes and constitution

Ballots used in the election were pre-printed in batches for use in precincts, and printed on demand for use in early voting. It is unclear if ballots were printed on demand or pre-printed in batches for absentee voting.

The ballots pre-printed in batches did not contain a removable stub, as required by statute. The quantity of ballots printed on demand cannot be reconciled, as required by statute.

  • CRS 1-5-407 (1.6) No ballot stub is required for a ballot produced on demand, so long as the quantity of ballots produced for the election can be reconciled by the ballot processing method used by the voting system. Such ballots may contain printed and distinguishing marks, so long as secrecy in voting is protected.

In addition, the use of ballots with non-removable serial numbers appears to violate Article VII, Section 8 of the Colorado Constitution. Secrecy in voting cannot be protected due to the “printed and distinguishing marks” called serial numbers.

Number of ballots counted

The number of ballots counted is printed on a report by the HART system. We were provided with an early version of the report, but never saw the final.

We know that there is a difference between the version of the report that we examined and the final version because at 2:45 PM the clerk announced that some additional ballots had been discovered, and had to be counted for the final report. I am unaware of any request for a Republican Party representative to observe the count.

Abstract of votes

There was no document identified as “abstract of votes”. A high level summary report and a more detailed report were offered as what might be the abstract of votes.

  • CRS 1-1-104 (1) "Abstract of votes cast" means a certified record of the results in each election for candidates for any office, ballot issue, or ballot question that the county clerk and recorder certified for the ballot.

The two reports do not contain the data needed to verify that votes are counted correctly.

  • Over and under votes are not reported, so it is not possible to verify that every vote is counted.
  • There is no way to verify that a counted vote has been counted for the correct candidate and in the correct precinct.
To certify the abstract of votes, data must be available to verify that every vote is counted and that every vote is counted correctly.