Duplicating Ballots on Touchscreens in SnoCo?
Per Noemie's request, I'm (prematurely) posting about something troubling from Snohomish County Elections. The Secretary of State's Office has authorized SnoCo to use their Sequoia touchscreens for the duplication of mail ballots.
We activists really don't know much more than that. Most of us have day jobs and have been concentrating on King Co. It'd be great if others could step up and help us resolve this.
The email thread to date is shown below. Plus some background information.
Duplication occurs when a mail ballot cannot be counted by the central count optical scanner. Reasons a mail ballot cannot be counted as-is include write-in candidates, use of pencil or wrong pen color, stray marks, damaged ballot, etc. (Citations for rules and procedures needed here.)
In King County, a team copies the votes from one ballot to a new blank ballot. The original ballot is kept. More, I don't know at this time. (I've asked for copies of the procedures.)
I currently believe that King County is duplicating about 10% of its mail ballots. Its an incredibly high number. There's a team of about 50 temp workers that do nothing but duplicate ballots.
Back to Snohomish County... At this point, all we have are questions:
- We thought SnoCo retired their touchscreens. Some of you may recall Paul Lehto's lawsuit against SnoCo and Sequoia Voting Systems regarding the electronic voting systems and the problems experienced in 2004. SnoCo and Sequoia tried to settle out of court with Lehto. But that didn't fly. I don't know the current status.
- A very big reason SnoCo retired their touchscreens and went to forced mail voting is the expense of adding a voter verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) to the machines they owned. In the email thread below, Paul Miller says the machines can be audited. Did SnoCo add printers? (Of course, we all know the VVPAT is a placebo. One that is impractical to audit. Cite Jill LaVine's testimony to the EAC and Voter Action's work in New Mexico here).
- How would one re-enter ballots for all of SnoCo into an electronic voting system? Each unit must be pre-programmed with all the ballot styles of the covered precincts. Do they have multiple units set up, each dedicated for a subset of precincts? Or maybe they have "super" units that can handle all the precincts.
- When does this new practice go into effect?
Okay, I need to return to work. The email thread follows. As you can see, I didn't actually get useful answers to my questions. It'd be great if other concerned citizens helped us rustle up some answers.
On Oct 3, 2006, at 3:53 PM, [raincity calling] wrote:
I recently learned from Paul Miller at the Secretary of State's office
Here is his email response to my inquiry regarding the use of touch
"Snohomish County will be using the duplicating process allowed in the
No county in Washington will be using the provisional ballot on DRE this
From: Jason Aaron Osgood [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Hi Paul Miller-
Can you please direct us to the law, rule, whatever that permits the
Will this topic be addressed during Oct 11th's public hearing on the
Cheers, Jason Osgood / Seattle WA
Begin forwarded message:
From: "Miller, Paul" <PMiller@secstate.wa.gov>
Below is the more complete and detailed response sent in response to Ms.
I have had the opportunity to review Snohomish's use of the DRE in
No, I believe the WACs on Oct. 11th are dealing with changes in the
"As to the question of duplicating ballots on DREs, Snohomish county has
As you are probably aware, some mail-in paper ballots are marked in a
When a DRE is used to duplicate ballots, the paper tape record of the
This procedure ensures that the county will always be able to retrieve
Subject: FYI: Counting Mail Ballots on Touchscreens
Hi Bob Ferguson, Everyone-
We just learned that Snohomish County WA is now allowed to count mail ballots using their touchscreen voting machines. Below is an exchange with Paul Miller (Sec of State's Office). We're trying to figure out how this absurdity is permitted. We'll continue to ask Paul Miller and others to cite laws, rules, or whatever until we get an answer.
My concern is that King Co will be next. This is exactly the kind of creeping incrementalism that concerns us election integrity activists so much.
During my observation of our central count last week, I was told 10% of mail ballots were being "duplicated". I'd estimate that during the peak, there were 40 people duplicating ballots. (I'll try to get actual numbers via open records requests.)
We activists had heard about this practice of duplicating ballots on touchscreens from California. (I think via Bev Harris.) It's unbelievable. And it's yet another reason to oppose forced mail voting. As we know from Jill LaVine's testimony to the Election Assistance Commission this last April, it is impractical to audit the paper trials. (Paul Miller was in the audience with me.) Similarly, Voter Action's work in New Mexico showed that the audit trial and the electronic memory don't necessarily match -- and there's no way to know.
Either forced mail voting or electronic voting is bad enough. I can't even believe we're talking about a combination of the two. We should be working to reduce the amount of duplication being done, not automating it.
Cheers, Jason Osgood / Seattle WA
Washington Citizens for Fair Elections
PNW TOPIC HOTLIST
They wouldn't do that to help McCain ... would they?
By Arthur Ruger (0 comments)
On Closing the Deal, Or, Preaching Beyond The Choir
By fake consultant (13 comments)
Can voting machines be safe with good election procedures?
By Fred (4 comments)
Related Links+ Paul Lehto's lawsuit against SnoCo and Sequoia Voting Systems
+ http://www .wafairelections.org
+ More on Election Integrity
+ Also by zappini
Local MediaCoastal/Grays Harbor
Aberdeen Daily World
Pacific County Press
Willapa Harbor Herald
KXRO 1320 AM
Peninsula Daily News
Gig Harbor Gateway
Port Orchard Independent
Port Townsend Leader
North Kitsap Herald
Central Kitsap Reporter
KONP 1450 AM
Sound and Islands
Voice Of Bainbridge
San Juan Journal
The Islands' Sounder
South Whidbey Record
Voice Of Vashon
KLKI 1340 AM
North Puget Sound
The Northern Light
Skagit Valley Herald
Snohomish County Tribune
Snohomish County Business Journal
The Monroe Monitor
The Edmonds Beacon
KGMI 790 AM
KELA 1470 AM
KRKO 1380 AM
Central Puget Sound
King County Journal
Voice of the Valley
Federal Way Mirror
Mercer Island Reporter
KOMO TV 4
KIRO TV 7
KING 5 TV
KTBW TV 22
Capitol Hill Times
Madison Park Times
Seattle Journal of Commerce
NW Asian Weekly
West Seattle Herald
North Seattle Herald-Outlook
South Seattle Star
Beacon Hill News
KIRO 710 AM
KOMO AM 1000
KEXP 90.3 FM
KUOW 94.9 FM
KVI 570 AM
South Puget Sound
Longview Daily News
Nisqually Valley News
Lewis County News
Tacoma News Tribune
KAOS 89.3 FM
KOWA FM 106.5
Ellensburg Daily Record
Cle Elum Tribune
Snoqualmie Valley Record
Methow Valley News
Lake Chelan Mirror
The Newport Miner
KREM 2 TV Spokane
KXLY News 4 Spokane
KHQ 6 Spokane
Cheney Free Press
The South County sun
White Salmon Enterprise
Columbia Basin Herald
Grand Coulee Star
Walla Walla Union-Bulletin
KIMA 29 Yakima
KAPP TV 35 Yakima
TVEW TV 42 Tri-cities
KEPR 19 Pasco
Daily Sun News
KTCR 1340 AM
Moscow-Pullman Daily News