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Salt Lake Tribune article on "vote counts and recounts" and commentary

By Kathy Dopp, National Election Data Archive  Posted by Joan Brunwasser (about the submitter)       (Page 1 of 3 pages)   No comments
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Highly recommended article in today's SL Tribune by Andy Warchol.

Thad Hall, of the University of Utah Political Science Department, has been contracted by the US EAC to study "vote counts & recounts". This means that Thad Hall is compiling all 50 states' laws for counting and recounting votes and becoming an expert in state count and recount law. Unfortunately this EAC job also means that Thad Hall is going to make recommendations for "best practices" for counts and recounts for the entire country - despite his lack of expertise in math or computer science and his past incompetent efforts to push for the adoption of unauditable paperless voting systems that are easily hacked. The US EAC continues to hire people, like Hall and Glen Newkirk, who are not qualified to do the job.

However, Hall is becoming an expert in existing state count and recount laws and Hall is correct when he says that HAVA requires Utah to have a uniform state-wide standard for what a ballot is.

The best standards for defining when the electronic or paper ballot should be the official ballot are given by the recent Brennan Center report. The Brennan Center provides best practice recommendations for resolving issues of when the paper ballot record or the electronic record should be used. See

Utah's Election Director, Michael Cragun, advises Utah counties that:

'a recount would consist of reconciling the polling place records, "re-accumulating the memory cards" and recounting the absentee ballots. "The permanent paper record comes into play only in an extreme situation," he said.'

Sherry Swensen, Salt Lake County Clerk, agrees with Cragun that we'll simply add up the memory card counts again, but do nothing to make sure that they're accurate.

In other words, Utah election officials plan to check the ability of the central count computer to get the same totals twice, rather than just once. This process will not detect any errors in the programming or ballot definitions, and it will not detect any deliberate tampering.

In other words, Utah's Election Officials will not use the voter-verifiable paper ballot records to make sure that the will of the voters was done, despite all the evidence of how easily attacked Utah's Diebold vote counts are!

Counting the paper roll records in Utah would be difficult since Diebold, (unlike its competition) did not even offer to sell Utah paper-roll advancers that would make it practical to hand count its paper roll ballot records.

Joe Demma, Utah's Lt. Governor's Chief of Staff leaves it up to the county clerks to decide what to do.

Demma, Cragun, and Swensen obviously do not care whether or not the voters or a computer "glitch" determine who is sworn into office in Utah!

Michael Vu, who is director of Cuyahoga County Board of Elections in Ohio (and used to work for the Salt Lake County Clerk), mentions the Ohio 3 percent recount but neglects to mention that Ohio's recount procedure is a sham recount procedure because the precincts to count are hand-selected by election officials and it has been reported that Ohio election officials solicit the help of voting machine programmers to let the people doing the recount know exactly what counts they are supposed to end up with to avoid a full recount, etc.

Warchol neglects to mention we have no idea if any of the races which were not close according to Utah law were counted correctly either, because no independent checks were performed using the voter-verifiable records.

Utah election officials seem to be unanimous in planning to conduct a sham recount rather than an actual accuracy check of Utah's vote counts.


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Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of (more...)

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