Some years back, I was part of an organized Election Integrity effort in LA to prevent the Board of Supervisors from following then-Registrar Conny McCormack’s advice to spend the remaining half of LA County’s Help America Vote Act (HAVA) federal dollars on an ES&S central tabulator.
She’d already bought ES&S Precinct Ballot Readers. At $5000 apiece (LA has over 4700 precincts!) their function was to scan paper ballots at the precinct, so voters could be alerted that they’d “under-voted” (put no marks at all on their ballots) or over-voted (put too many marks in a particular race, meaning their vote wouldn’t count.) The ballot readers didn’t count, so no results went on memory cards at the precinct. The paper ballots were – still are – trucked to LA County’s central tabulator to be opti-scanned there by a central tabulator.
Had we bought an ES&S tabulator, LA would have moved to memory cards to transport precinct votes and be put in the central tabulator. Memory cards are small, can be easily lost or exchanged, and can carry secretly-inserted code to rig central tabulation.
The $45 million that activists saved LA County became seed money for current Registrar Dean Logan to develop a voting system for LA that will 1) produce a hand-countable paper ballot; 2) feature a paper-ballot scanner operating on open-source software; 3) be publicly-owned, removing the “trade-secrecy” excuse that vendors have long used to prevent public oversight of how they operate our elections, including the count.
This video shows me using the developed prototype by which we’ll cast our votes via a paper ballot. I was a member of the Voting Systems Advisory Panel that established principles for the new system. My deal breaker was it had to produce a hand-countable paper ballot. Some friends think this Ballot Marking Device is just an expensive pencil. But LA county requires voter information and equal access in 9 different languages. The ADA (Americans with Disabilities) requires equal access for a variety of disabilities. This system meets those needs.
One huge question remains: can an online, “live” sign-in roster be secured for 10 days of voting at a Vote Center?
In the recent June 7, 2016 California Primary, there was evidence of tampering with the statewide registration database. Riverside County is investigating their voter database security.
I foresee that provisional voting will still be a feature of our elections in LA. If voters’ legitimacy can’t be checked with a live roster, some information will be delayed and ballots will have to be provisional, with signed provisional envelopes. The counting of those ballots will remain a battleground.
At present, qualifying provisionals (signature match, legal residence within county) are discarded if and when a mail ballot has already been received and counted in the same voter’s name.
This is because mail ballots are first to be processed. They are processed as they come in: first, for signature match – the signature on the envelope must match the voter’s signature on record from their registration card. Signature-matching computer software makes the match or declares it a mismatch. All ballots with matched signatures are then identified as coming from a voter of LA County. At close of polls on Election Day, the mail ballots thus processed are separated from their identifying envelopes and counted. The voter’s record shows a mail vote for that election.
This process must be reversed to protect voter-verified intent. It is time-consuming – but provisionals must be processed, signature-matched, counted and recorded before mail ballots are separated from their envelopes.
In this age of perfect computer-forged signatures; of paid signature-gathering as a big for-profit election business trafficking in registered voters’ signatures that go on file in many private databases, and of counterfeit political mailings being an accepted part of campaign tricks, a signature-match on a voter’s mail ballot envelope is not the guarantee of honesty it once was.
Provisionals are voted in person at the polls. The voters sign in under witness of poll workers who took an oath to conduct the election lawfully. They are witnesses that the voter has appeared and signed to confirm his or her intent to cast the ballot at the polls for whatever reason. Currently the reason is that the voter did not wish to vote by mail, or did not receive a mail ballot. There is currently CA legislation that would allow counties to send mail ballots to every voter in the county. If voters use a Voting Center in person, but do not bring in their mail ballot unvoted, they will have to vote provisionally.
When mail ballots are counted, it must be after the provisional votes. If a mail ballot appears for a voter who already is on record as having voted in person, legitimately, whether regularly or provisionally, that mail ballot must be discarded as an inferior expression of voter-verified intent – without legal witnesses and with a longer, less secure chain of custody than the at-polls ballot.
Feel free to Comment on the video below!