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Reply #172: Punch-card inspection Hamilton County 6-30-05 [View All]

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liam_laddie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-01-05 12:10 PM
Response to Reply #169
172. Punch-card inspection Hamilton County 6-30-05
Hey, all - Well...I'm not sure what "inspection" can reveal...
Met with the BoE Director and three staff, with three exit-polled
precinct punch-card decks on the table. The absentees are
stored and counted separately, so we asked for them, too.
"We" - a friend who participated in the recount came along for
help and his familiarity with system.

We engaged first in a discussion about:
- procedures used on election night
- the pre-count testing done on the tabulators to assure accuracy
(with test decks of varying punch patterns, a sequence with various fault-tests, etc.
- the use of electronic voting devices and the problems therewith.
- they would prefer to continue use of punch-cards, partly for cost
(cards are $1.00 per 25 - opscan sheets are 30 each!) and partly that the main issue with cards is over/undervotes. Which seems to be a relatively minor issue, except in close races. It would be impossible to tell if any such cards were "spoiled" on purpose sometime in their trip from voters' hands to the tabs.
This requires full honesty from poll-workers. The cards are
transported to BoE in "money sack" type bags with a tamper-evident seal ring. I doubt that any gambits, except missing precincts, could occur. (I've heard of some counties
where this did occur - no votes from a precinct...)
- the data files' tracking after the tabulators read the cards.
Basically, I was looking for possible points-of-entry for fraud.

Not possible to verify:
- all the cards in the deck were actually cast-at-poll. Other than to compare the card-count audit page in the poll-list book, which is filled out and signed by all four poll-workers. This comparison is done by BoE staff on election night and if there's a problem, it's flagged and resolved.
- the preliminary results from the tabs are posted throughout the
evening, so to vary these (via later number-juggling) would be evident and unlikely.
- I believe that the totals are transmitted to the state central tabulator, and these are checked by local BoE's for agreement.

We looked at the 4-M absentee stack, which totaled correctly. These cards do have a two-line rubber stamp form on back which is filled in by hand with correct precinct before the ballot/card/instruction sheet packet is mailed to voter. None of the regularly cast cards are identified in any way. The stack has a header card to correctly read the precinct, ballot style and order.
I have come over the last few months to appreciate the complexity of managing the election process.

At this point, we decided that we really couldn't identify any specific problems which would point to "intentional error." Only
BoE staff handle the cards because the cards are somewhat
vulnerable to improper handling. So we did not continue the

I am not experienced in looking for the subtle clues of tampering, and I did not ask to see over/undervotes or provisional cards, as the reported totals for these are far too small to change the winners. Plus the general opinion of those who worked the recount in December (Cobb team, etc,) is that in Hamilton County, the BoE seems to run a clean, non-corrupted process. Not true in adjacent Clermont or Warren counties. But those would take a legal challenge to get at the records...

It seems that this is the wrong county to examine. In addition, there are six elections this year here, with a congressional and some local issues on Aug, 2, a mayoral primary on Sept.13 and the "general" on Nov 8. Thus the staff has more important things
to attend to than inquiries (there have been many, by other investigators, but I have no info) like mine. Sorry there isn't
more useful news but that's it. It appears to me that the time period after the data is compiled by the tabs, some digital
skullduggery could take place, but it is very hard to discover how.
ES&S has the contract for tabs and CPU, so there's room for suspicion, but how to discover?
Regards to all, liam_laddie

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