Sunday, August 21, 2005

REBUTTAL to Paul Tiger's Opinion by Al Kolwicz

An incredibly poor comprehension of Boulder County’s 2004 election problems is revealed in Paul Tiger’s Opinion, “Less emotion, more science”, Colorado Daily, August 14th. Below, each of Mr. Tiger’s major errors is refuted, paragraph by paragraph.

1. Tiger appears to believe that the public policy issue is focused on “control of the [elections] division.” This is not true. Voter activists are demanding a restoration of public trust in elections -- see August 2nd posting by Joe Pezzillo at “Citizens ask Boulder County Commissioners to act to restore public trust".

Colorado law defines election administration to be a joint authority. The law defines roles for independent oversight and for political party and contestant involvement. It is not true, as asserted by Tiger, that “only the clerk can and should have oversight and control”.

2. The root cause of the widespread 2004 election failures was the lack of competent planning and execution. This fundamental failure is what caused “the parts of the process that failed”.

Salas fails to acknowledge the problems and consequently fails to address them, preferring instead to cover up the problems by blaming others.

An elected official need not be a subject-matter expert, but does need to set standards of acceptable performance. Salas does not.

3. The statement that "only the clerk and her staff can control the methods" is contrary to the law, the rules, and good sense. The law defines political party and Secretary of State responsibilities.

Salas works hard to prevent independent oversight. Only by maximizing transparency, while protecting security, accuracy and verifiability, can the clerk earn voter confidence.

4. Her continued denial of the facts and refusal to directly engage the public is proof that Salas has failed to learn from her failures. Further, Salas has launched the 2005 election using her same false assumptions.

Salas continues to cling to her dangerously euphoric and erroneous beliefs, despite facts to the contrary. In addition to many other denials of fact, Salas refuses to acknowledge that:

  • The 2004 election was not accurate – the clerk’s own recount, and the defects discovered during the canvass of results, proved this.
  • Permanently serialized ballots violate the Colorado Constitution – Article VII section 8 requires secret ballots.
  • Mail ballot elections do not increase voter turnout – data from past elections prove this.
  • Mail ballot elections are not secure, accurate, verifiable – published CAMBER studies prove this, see .
  • Control of elections is a shared authority -- Colorado statutes clearly state this.
5. Contrary to Tiger’s assertion, critics who worked on the election did not become supporters of the HART system. As an actively involved election official, I definitely did NOT become a supporter of the failed HART system! I don’t know anybody who analyzed the system that now supports it.

Tiger’s use of the pejorative "doom purveyor" is an attempt to “kill the messenger.” It is an attempt to discredit those who dedicate time and effort to reform the flawed election process. It is a debating trick intended to avoid dealing with the issues.

It is totally untrue that critics spent no time working with the systems. Collectively, hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars were invested by people like Kolwicz, Thigpen, Eckert, McBurnett, Shnelvar, Horton, Schooler, and many others.

Tiger implies that a comprehensive agreed-to set of elections procedures existed. They most definitely did not.

It is absolutely untrue that the critics were “citizens choosing to stand outside”. In fact, Salas and her gang abused their office by using their special positions to steadfastly prevent citizens from getting inside. She directly refused to permit legally prescribed public participation in the election process and threatened and attempted to discredit and silence those who did. She even used sheriff’s deputies to intimidate and prevent at least one legally appointed election official (me) from performing his duty.

6. Salas’ hand-picked Election Review Committee is not independent and made no attempt to perform comprehensive election oversight. The ERC results are tragically incomplete, and grossly inaccurate. Further, the ERC makes numerous statements “of fact” that are totally unsupported and most likely untrue.

The ERC should have addressed quantities – how many, exactly when, how fast, etc. But, such numbers were not published in their report, and apparently not even examined.

Tiger attempts to make it appear OK that the system failed, using as a rationale “the complexity of the issues.” In fact, if the job is too complex for her, Salas should demonstrate good character by stepping aside and letting a more qualified person represent the interests of the people. As long as Salas retains control, the unresolved problems of 2004 will never be resolved.

7. Tiger attacks “uneducated and ill-informed suggestions“ made by people who “refused to be involved in the operations of elections”. This inflammatory attack calls for specific names and specific allegations.

Well in advance of the 2004 elections, Salas was presented numerous written lists of problems and recommended solutions – one of these, “Requirements for Trustworthy Elections – 2004 Primary and General,” was published April 10, 2004 at

Salas has not dealt with any of the fundamental issues. Instead, the Clerks of Colorado ganged up with the Secretary of State to block future independent oversight. Perhaps their theory is that if nobody can detect and report the problems, then the problems will be gone. In fact, the 2005 elections will be exposed to the same unresolved problems.

8. Despite Tiger’s assertion to the contrary, it was never true that the activists were overjoyed at the purchase of the HART system. In fact, the opposite is true – activists were distraught at the purchase of the HART system. Activists were pleased at the commissioner’s recommendations to use paper ballots and reject DRE voting equipment. Tiger should identify the so-called “activists” who were “overjoyed” by the purchase.

It is not true that activists were quiet from December 11, 2003 to April 27, 2004. Among many others there was the Orange County issue. It involved a clandestine, useless field trip by election officials with no written report, followed by an attempted cover-up of HART system malfunctions that happened during the Orange County election.

Both leasing and hand counting were prophetic recommendations by the activists. If the HART system were to have been leased in 2003, it would likely not have been purchased after the 2004 election problems were discovered. If votes on the paper ballots were hand counted, the 2004 election might have been successful.

9. Hand counted paper ballots are a part of Colorado law and were recommended by some members of the public. See November, 2003, . The Swiss Method suggestion was advanced later.

Contrary to Salas' assertions, it was then and is now permissible to verify vote counts. In 2003, for example, Salas conducted a so-called “administrative recount”. This same authority could have been used to attempt to satisfy the public’s demand for verification of vote counts.

The so-called hand audits included in the recently revised statutes are not based on scientific methods, and will likely fail to achieve the hoped for increase in voter confidence.

10. It is our understanding that the HART system cannot be revised and certified in time for the 2005 election; therefore the HART system should not be used for the 2005 election.

To our knowledge, it is not true that comprehensive election procedures exist. Where are these procedures? What public reviews have they sustained? What technical reviews have determined that the procedures are secure, accurate, verifiable and transparent?

Boulder County was wrong to spend more than a million dollars on a dysfunctional, partially complete system that requires R&D funding and excessive operational resources to make it meet minimum requirements.

Boulder County is failing in its obligation to protect the taxpayer’s money. It is wasting this money in order to cover up government’s failings. The County should immediately demand a full refund plus high penalty fees from HART.

Salas and crew have demonstrated that they lack the skills needed to recognize and define the problems. They most certainly lack the skills needed to solve them. In my opinion, they do not even have the skills needed to identify, select and supervise professional help.

11. Before Mr. Tiger again reveals his poor comprehension of events, he should practice his own call for “Less emotion, more science”.

Al Kolwicz

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

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Citizens ask Boulder County Commissioners to "act to restore public trust"

August 2, 2005 - Boulder County, CO -- To restore public trust in elections County Commissioners were asked to promptly enact the following measures:

  1. We request that you fund an independent citizens group to provide continuous oversight of Boulder County’s elections procedures. We request an amount no less than that provided to the ERC, five thousand dollars per annum, and insist that this group be completely independent of the County Clerk’s office, something that cannot be said of the ERC.
  2. Second, we reiterate our request that Boulder County provide the citizens an accurate and trustworthy elections system. Only by blatantly ignoring the facts can the Clerk claim that the current system is accurate, and it is clearly not reliable enough to be considered trustworthy.
  3. We ask you to resurrect the secret, anonymous ballot cast in our local neighborhood precincts. The last two elections in Boulder County were in violation of the Colorado State Constitution because the ballots were not secret, and there is no indication that the coming election in November will meet this fundamental requirement. We reject the notion that the method of conducting our elections should have the convenience of the clerk and her staff as the primary goal.
  4. Further, we insist that the County make NO additional purchases of proprietary elections equipment. In particular, we expect that not another penny of Boulder County taxpayer money will be spent on equipment from Hart Intercivic. We remain shocked and appalled that the County has not asked for nor received a complete refund for the money that has been wasted already.
  5. In addition to rejecting proprietary equipment, we also insist that all elections records that can be made public are released as open records in a timely and cost-free manner. It is absolutely unacceptable to be told that our elections records are trade secrets of a private company.
  6. We expect that every election held in Boulder County will be thoroughly manually audited by persons not connected with the Clerk’s office who are given complete access to all records needed to verify the counts.
  7. Finally, we ask you to embody our requests into law by passing language that would guarantee that Boulder County’s citizens are provided this basic level of accountability over our taxpayer-funded elections.
As a first step toward accomplishing these ends, I return to our request that you act today to fund an independent citizens group and to draft such law as you are able that will protect the vote in Boulder County.

Joe Pezzillo
Boulder, Colorado

Monday, August 01, 2005

Colorado proposed rules fail to address known issues

CAMBER comments - Election Rules 8 CCR 1515-1 – August 1, 2005

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the proposed rules – 8-CCR 1505-1. In our opinion, any election conducted under these rules will not be secure, accurate, verifiable or transparent.

The proposed rules, in conjunction with the revised statutes, fail to address many of the past problems and complaints that have been reported to the Secretary and to individual county clerks including, by way of example:
  1. Watchers have been denied access to records, charged fees for election records, prevented from reading and analyzing non-private records, and excluded from some phases of elections. There is no independent mechanism to resolve differences of opinion between watchers and election officials.
  2. Non-anonymous ballots are permitted under these rules. This is a violation of Article VII, section 8 of the Colorado Constitution.
  3. Voting equipment/software functional specifications, performance, and versions are not public under these rules. Certification-test requirements are not specified. Testing and test materials are not open to the public. There is no remedy prescribed when, during an election, voting equipment is discovered to be incorrectly programmed.
  4. Mail ballot elections have disenfranchised electors by permitting ineligible voters to vote and subjecting ballots to loss and theft. Voters have been denied their right to vote using a secret ballot. Officials have recklessly tempted people to vote ballots that are not their own, to sell their signed ballot for money or favor, or to intimidate eligible voters to vote for or against contestants.
  5. Identification and eligibility rules have not reliably verified that an individual voter is the unique real person they claim to be and have not verified that the individual is eligible to vote in a particular jurisdiction at the time that they vote. Amateur signature verification described by the rules is not a reliable means to verify identity and there is no specification of an acceptable error rate for individual signature verification personnel.
  6. Canvass procedures have not discovered fraud and error in past elections, although fraud and error were present. Election records and computer files needed to conduct a meaningful canvass have been denied to canvass boards. The Secretary of State and the County Clerks have a conflict of interest. They are under great pressure from campaigns and the press to complete an election in a timely manner. This conflicts with the public’s interest for secure, accurate, verifiable and transparent elections. There has been no independent way to resolve disagreements.
  7. Security of ballots and equipment has been lax. Ballots wind up in public trash dumps before the election. Ballot boxes have been “misplaced”. There has been no way to verify that the voter’s votes are actually recorded on a digital ballot, and whether digital ballots are “lost”, “replaced” or “created” between the time that they are presumably created by the voter and the time at which they are counted.
  8. Logic and accuracy test procedures have failed to detect errors in voting equipment and software. Procedures have been highly criticized and resulted in legal action. Computer professionals have no confidence in these tests.
As can be seen from the few illustrations above, the proposed rules must undergo significant additions and revisions before the public can responsibly trust that an election conducted under these rules is secure, accurate, verifiable and transparent.

As per C.R.S. 24-4-103 (4)(c), please forward copies of the scientific or technological rationale justifying those rules which involve scientific or technological issues. We are interested in all studies. We expect to see an analysis of error rates for processes such as signature verification. We expect to see the statistical basis for the audit procedure. We expect to see an analysis of the difference in security, accuracy, verifiability and transparency between the different methods of voting and the different voting equipment.

As per C.R.S. 24-4-103 (8)(b), please forward copies of the Attorney General’s opinion as to the constitutionality of these rules. We expect to see his opinion on whether the rules will protect each eligible elector’s right to vote using an anonymous ballot according to Article VII Section 8 of the Colorado Constitution.

To summarize, in our opinion, any election conducted under these rules will not be secure, accurate, verifiable or transparent.