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How to Validate Your Own Elections, Tips for CA Voters for tomorrow's primary

By Bev Harris, Black Box Voting  Posted by Joan Brunwasser (about the submitter)       (Page 1 of 2 pages)   No comments
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The California primary is Tuesday June 6. As they say, "Democracy is not a spectator sport." Dive in and do your part to oversee and document this important election.

This coming November, control of the U.S. Congress will be determined in a nationwide general election. Primary elections are your chance to practice citizen oversight activities. With its massive population, California elections will play a particularly large role in control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

When there is a lot at stake, it is especially important to exercise your civil right to oversee and validate your own elections.

Here are some things that ordinary citizens can do:

First, a shift in thinking is needed this year. It is no longer enough to observe and tell stories about what you saw -- even if you sign an affadavit. The sad fact is, anecdotes don't produce change, even when they are very well organized. It's time to shift your thinking from watching elections to collecting evidence.

Evidence = audio recordings*, video recordings, photographs and public records

Also: Pick your observation point. While it's important to observe the polls, it may be even more important to observe the chain of custody and the vote tallying that goes on after the polls close.

Here is a general laundry list of valuable things you can can document.

Fair elections are all about your right to oversee and validate. You should not have to "trust" in anyone else's word. You should be able to observe and document for yourself.

In some California counties, like Los Angeles County, you'll get a lovely tour and lots of speeches, but little opportunity to actually excerise meaningful oversight.

Document any of the following obstructive behaviors:

You are not allowed to watch poll closing activities
You are not allowed to watch votes being counted
You are not allowed to follow the ballot box, memory card, or cartridge chain of custody
You are not allowed to watch the "depots" (regional transfer sites)
You are not allowed to watch the processing of the absentee ballots
You are not allowed to see the computer screens
You cannot see who is in the counting room
Some of the processing and tabulation takes place in rooms you cannot see
They won't tell you where any other networked machines are or, they won't let you observe the area where other networked machines are
You cannot see who is handling memory cards (or cartridges, or disks)
They won't tell you the names (and/or who employs) the people who are tabulating and processing votes
You are not allowed to watch pre-election voting machine preparation
You are not allowed to watch pre-election voting machine testing
You are not allowed to see all of the rooms where ballot box (memory card, cartridge) processing is taking place
You are not allowed to watch check-in of cartridges, memory cards etc.
You cannot see all of the computers processing your vote
They turn off the machine or blank the screen so you can't see what's on it (for example, hiding error messages)
You are not allowed to have the all of the results reports
You are not allowed to see the polling place results tapes at the precinct (end of day precinct results)
They won't let you access public records, such as voting machine logs, reports, pollbooks
They won't tell you the names of the people working there
It's too dark to see handling of memory cards, cartridges, envelopes and election materials.
They won't tell you the chain of custody

Chain of custody problems

Gaps in the accounting for (or your ability to see) handling of voting machines, memory cards, or ballots
Handing memory cards by political party operatives or vendors
Technicians working on voting machines during the election
Technicians working on voting system during the count
Machine does not print precinct results
Voting machines, ballot boxes or memory/cartridges sent home with poll workers

Counting problems
Modems can't connect
Cards/cartridges won't upload
Results don't match each other
Results for a candidate go down when more votes come in
Negative votes or machines count backwards

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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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