And that's the story on our vote-by-mail craze. What we need to be focusing on is restoration of the public right to see and authenticate every one of the four essential parts of elections. It may be "easy and fun" to vote by mail, but with vote by mail we have just "easy and funned" our way out of public elections. We have transferred power.
If you have a lawyer, a strong backbone, and a willingness to sort through a couple wheelbarrows full of data, you can learn a great deal about what transpired with vote-by-mail ballots.
You need the lawyer to get the public records promptly, and even then, you may be obstructed from looking at the necessary documents for a large vote-by-mail system.
You need a backbone because you will be called a conspiracy theorist and will face significant obstruction of your right to know what happened in your own public election.
You will need a couple wheelbarrows for the data, along with an enthusiasm for culling through multiple databases containing millions of records, to do the auditing necessary to get any idea whether your vote-by-mail can even pass its own checks and balances.
EXAMPLES OF POST-ELECTION FORENSICS
- One of the most impressive cases currently is the Detroit case of Tom Barrow, a candidate who has succeeded in getting 58,000 absentee ballots thrown out in a recount. He found an empty ballot box from which they counted ballots, and the seals missing or mismatches on tens of thousands of ballots. When he asked to see the seals on the bottom of the boxes, upon crawling under the table to look, he found the seals were not intact at all.
- I recently examined absentee vote data from Marin County, California. Twenty-nine batch numbers are missing from the sequentially numbered absentee batches. The system automatically assigned a batch number to each set of absentee ballots scanned. The numbers are sequential in order of upload. When a batch number is missing, it indicates either that the batch was removed from the count, or that the system had an unexpected shutdown, perhaps due to a power outage or paper jam. The pattern of missing batches is a concern. The missing batches cluster together by day, with most occurring on May 28, the first day ballots were scanned, June 10 and 11, and June 17. (Note that each day may represent the next day's uploads, due to naming and saving conventions in Marin.) What happened to the ballots in the batches? What records exist? Who observed? Were undesired results replaced?
The trend for at least one ballot issue, Measure F, changed shortly after a number of missing ballot batch numbers. This measure had been losing, but won by 178 votes after a trend change during post-election absentee scanning.
In California, some absentee locations are joining a dangerous practice, eliminating the results tapes from scanned absentee batches. This places an unsustainable burden on the central tabulator, which then becomes the sole chain of custody point for the absentee votes being uploaded.
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Founder - Black Box Voting
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