Diebold seems to have caused ballot definition errors in Utah's ballots by making changes to the database of precincts, districts, and ballot types it was given by counties. These problems were caught quickly on Election Day in Utah County, and not elsewhere, due to a decision made by Utah County's election official to configure its Diebold software on its ballot encoder and voting machines in a particular way using the correct database on one system that immediately detected and caught the error.
Ballot definition errors mean that voters are given the wrong ballot - allowed to vote in races they should not be allowed to vote in, and not able to vote in races that they should be allowed to vote in. The extent of the problem in Utah is not known yet.
It seems to have been Diebold programmers, not county officials, who messed up their database copy.
To verify that voters were given the correct ballots in other counties in Utah, there would have to be an investigation to compare the voter registration records telling which ballot type each voter was supposed to be given for the districts each voter lives in, with the vote totals tapes of each DRE, or the absentee and provisional ballot stubs which allegedly show the correct number of voters on each ballot style on each DRE machine.
However, Utah election officials have taken steps to cover up Diebold ballot programming errors and stymie any investigation into the extent of ballot programming errors by:
- Keeping paper ballot summary tapes, and other election records which would enable a count of the voters given each ballot definition, a secret, in stark contrast to other states where such records are routinely publicly released.
- Lying to multiple voting activists by:
-- claiming that Utah has no written procedures for conducting elections, which has forced activists to obtain written election procedures from poll workers and political observers who were given copies of written procedures, and
-- claiming that Utah statute requires election officials to lock up the only copies of election records for 22 months and then destroy them, and thus does not make any copies of the records that would be available.
- Making unequal use of Utah statute by forcing voting activists to use Utah's Government and Records Management Act (GRAMA), wait ten days, and make payments to obtain records and written procedures that are freely and immediately given out to others.
- Refusing to allow observation of hand counts of paper absentee and provisional ballots, claiming that the numbers on the stubs on them would reveal which voters cast them. However, as soon as the election officials finish their secret counts, the ballot stubs are immediately removed to prevent any investigation of whether or not absentee and provisional ballot voters were provided with the correct ballot definitions.
- Not releasing detailed records of vote counts, even to candidates, in some counties, and requiring official GRAMA requests and waiting the full ten days to release records, thus using up the time candidates have to request recounts and contest elections.
Utah's Deseret News article talks about the Diebold programming problems but is misleading because Utah newspapers only report what Utah election officials tell them; and Utah's election officials seem determined to cover up their blunder in selecting Diebold's touchscreen voting systems.
Utah statute requires one vote or less difference per precinct for recounts to be required. Utah election officials have used that law to reduce the number of recounts by increasing the number of voters in each precinct by combining multiple ballot definitions due to differing districts into the same precincts. This not only reduces the margin between candidates requiring recounts down to, on average, less than ½ of one percent, making Utah one of the most difficult states in the U.S. to obtain recounts; it also complicates Utah's election administration and makes errors in the databases used for ballot definitions more likely.
To make matters worse, the Lt. Governor has implemented new recount procedures which merely reread electronic tallies, despite a voting system that experts agree is wide-open to tampering and error and in direct conflict with Utah election statutes which require manual counts of the voter verifiable paper records during recounts.
Utah election officials are pushing for more funds to increase the amount of Diebold touchscreens, misinforming press and the public by wrongly stating that the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) requires one touchscreen for each voter, rather than one device for each polling location for the disabled voters to be able to vote privately and unassisted.
Contrary to the claims of Utah election officials, Utah has the option to use less expensive, more trustworthy, auditable optical scan paper ballots or punch-card ballots for voters.
Diebold advertised 16 phony office locations in Utah whitepages and told Utah decision-makers that it had "about 20 office locations" in Utah when it has only one. Diebold created a phony web site which it used to post fictitious stories about Utah activist Kathy Dopp and BlackBoxVoting's Bev Harris. Diebold told Utah officials that its phony web site was "run by an independent watchdog organization". Diebold was caught selling a combination of used/rejected and new voting machines for new prices by Emery County Clerk Bruce Funk, but Utah's Lt. Governor's office and Attorney General's office helped Diebold to cover up the evidence of its fraud and locked the doors on Funk's office to keep him from going to work at the job he was elected to. The Utah Lt. Governor's Chief of Staff Joe Demma also released fictitious stories about voting activist Kathy Dopp to Utah press to stop press from interviewing Dopp for news articles and has lied numerous times to Utah press and to county commissioners in Utah regarding the Diebold voting system and HAVA requirements. Diebold defrauded the federal testing process; installed questionable voting software immediately prior to improbable election results in Georgia; settled out of court for fraud charges in California; and made false claims that it had fixed voting system security flaws discovered first in the 1990's, again in 2003, etc.
What do the experts say?
The problems with Utah's new written audit and recount policies:
Utah Punishes Whistle Blower County Clerk
Proposal for election integrity audits for Utah:
How to ensure electronic election outcome integrity with manual audits:
Utah Count Votes
The Help America Vote Act (HAVA)