Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Boulder County Election Plan Fundamentally Flawed

DATE: September 21, 2005

TO: Josh Liss
FROM: Al Kolwicz, CAMBER
CC: Linda Salas, Bill Compton, Hillary Hall, Marty Neilson,
Dean Schooler, Joe Pezzillo
RE: Draft Mail Ballot Election Plan, September 7, 2005

We have reviewed your September 7th draft Mail Ballot Election Plan, and confess to being terribly disappointed. Most if not all of the problems identified during the 2001-2004 elections have not been addressed.

There are fundamental problems with the plan. The plan is so incomplete that it is not meaningful for us to prepare a comprehensive analysis. The results from an election conducted under this plan should not be trusted.

It may seem odd to say this, but county employees have a huge vested interest in the outcome of this election -- future income and term-limits. Voters should not be asked to trust that those with the most to gain will conduct a trustworthy election. To the extent humanly possible, this plan should be sufficiently robust that error, fraud, or incompetence cannot escape detection and public disclosure.

1. The plan discloses that Boulder County intends to violate Article VII, Section 8 of the Colorado Constitution. This is a fundamental defect which will not come as a surprise to you. We have made many requests, beginning at least as early as August 2nd, for disclosure of the county’s plan to provide anonymous voting. You have chosen to hide your plans by not responding to these many requests.As you know, the county has a proven alternative to non-secret ballots – ballots with ballot stubs – that is compatible with the HART/Intercivic vote interpretation and counting system. We have requested that the Secretary of State disapprove your plan unless it is revised to provide anonymous voting. We ask that you do so.

2. Boulder County elections have suffered a pattern of major problems with Logic & Accuracy Testing, Canvass Board membership and operation, watcher’s access to election data contained in computer files, and even the interpretation of the meaning of words such as “cast”. None of these problems have been addressed in the plan.

3. An election conducted under this plan will not be transparent. The county has been presented with many examples whereby watchers have been blocked by election officials from performing watcher duties. Provisions for Boulder County Political Party participation is missing. There is no mechanism for publicly reporting and resolving election issues.

4. An election conducted under this plan will not be verifiable. The county has been presented with many examples whereby watchers have been blocked from verifying processes and records, including computer files, and from verifying the security, eligibility, interpretation and counting of votes.

5. An election conducted under this plan will not be secure. The county has been presented with many examples of security exposures including privacy issues, intimidation and vote selling issues, forgery issues, ballot control issues, and verification of computer systems, files and soft-switches.

6. An election conducted under this plan will not be accurate. The county has been presented with many examples of inaccuracy problems including the counting of ineligible votes, rejection of eligible votes, lack of batch integrity, and HART/Intercivic vote interpretation and vote counting reliability problems.

The county has chosen to conduct its planning in the dark, protected from the sunshine of transparency. It has ignored all offers of help and suggestions for improvement. The county has chosen to behave as “ruling elite” rather than “public servants”.

Despite its vested interest in the outcome, the county is proposing to conduct a non-trustworthy election. This is exceedingly bad public policy.

Delaying this election would provide time to correct the major problems. If you do not delay the election, there is something that can be done to improve the situation -- implement the August 2nd recommendations made to the Boulder County Commissioners:

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

If the problems summarized above are not fixed, or the plan to restore public trust is not implemented, we fear that the results of this election will be contested. This will not improve the public’s confidence in our election system.