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Albert Howard Hand Delivers Letter to SoS Gardner, Reiterates Demand For Reconciliation of All Uncast Ballots
ALSO: Diebold Machine Errors Reported in 21 Towns, Democrat John Conyers Calls Howard, Expresses Support...
By Brad Friedman on 2/1/2008 2:30pm PT  

New Hampshire's Republican Presidential Primary candidate Albert Howard has delivered a letter to Secretary of State Bill Gardner, demanding that "all ballots that have been returning from the towns and cities, including, but not necessarily limited to, the unused/uncast ballots and the 'spoiled' ballots," be counted as part of the ongoing Election Contest in the Granite State. Howard filed for the contest, where ballots are being counted again today in Concord, following concerns about reported results from the Diebold optical-scan machines used during the state's January 8th Primary.

The BRAD BLOG has also learned that problems with Diebold machines were reported in 21 different towns during the primary, according to Howard, who says he has finally received some answers to public records requests filed with the state weeks ago, asking for details of problems with the machines that occurred on Election Day.

We just spoke with Howard, who explained that counting conditions in Concord continue to be "a mess," prompting his latest demands, which echoed earlier ones that remain unmet by SoS Gardner.

The Republican Howard also told us that he'd been contacted recently by the Democratic chairman of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, John Conyers, who called him personally to discuss concerns about what was going on in the wake of questions surrounding the New Hampshire Primary Election results...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Delivers Letter to SoS Requesting Change in Tally Procedures...
By Brad Friedman on 1/28/2008 12:47pm PT  

Blogged by Brad Friedman from the road...

Republican New Hampshire primary candidate Albert Howard, whose election contest hand count is currently ongoing in Concord, once again demonstrates how to call for a legitimate and reconcilable "recount."

He has just sent us a copy of the following letter, which was hand delivered to NH Secretary of State Bill Gardner earlier today [emphasis in original]...

January 28, 2008

HAND DELIVERED

Secretary of State
State of New Hampshire
Dept. of State
107 N. Main St. Rm 204
Concord, NH 03301
Re: COUNTERS’ TALLY SHEETS

Dear Mr. Gardner:

I respectfully request a slight change in the recount procedure.

Current Procedure

The people who are counting the votes are entering the results on individual ward and town tally sheets. They are all using pens with red ink. They then sign and walk the tally sheets to the front of the room where they are handed to a state employee.
The state employee says she checks for discrepancies before manually transposing the figures from the local tally sheets to a County-wide tally sheet, using the same red ink used by the counters. The state employee then enters the figures from her County-wide tally sheet into her computerized master recount file (an excel spreadsheet). Only then does the state employee make and hand me a copy of the counter’s tally sheet.

New Procedure

I wish to receive a copy of the tally sheet for each ward and town, before it is handed to the state employee. It is simply too easy for anyone to alter a figure(s) on a counters’ tally sheet in order to narrow or eliminate a discrepancy. Such evil could never be uncovered short of yet another statewide recount.

Please know that I have no reason to suspect anyone of such mischief. My purpose is merely to tighten up the procedure, in favor of the candidate, and to eliminate any temptation to commit such wrongdoing.

Very truly yours,

Albert B. Howard

Please note: We will be on the road for much of the rest of the day today, as we head from Santa Cruz back down to Los Angeles. We'll try to get caught up with things by tonight, as the SOTU rolls.

Thus we don't have time, for the moment, to give full background to the above story in this article. But plenty is already available, particularly in regard to concerns about chain of custody, and other sloppy "recount" procedures, from previous BRAD BLOG coverage.

For previous coverage of Albert Howard and Dennis Kucinich's Election Contests in New Hampshire, see all stories, newest first, here, and the index of most notable stories here...

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UPDATE: SoS Backs Down, Count Will Procede As Scheduled, According to Reports...
By Brad Friedman on 1/25/2008 11:28am PT  

By Brad Friedman, from on the road (again)...

A representative of Republican Albert Howard's New Hampshire hand count called this morning to say that, without giving any specific details, the NH SoS office informed them today that "We're gonna have to stop the recount for a couple of days" next week. No reason, other than "legislative business" was given.

A few minutes ago, Howard, who had patiently waited for nearly two weeks while NH SoS Bill Gardner began the counting for the Democratic request, claiming they couldn't count the two different primaries at one time (though it seems they couldn't even count one primary at the same time!), sent us the following note, objecting to the delay in counting. The letter was hand delivered to Gardner moments ago...

January 25, 2008

HAND DELIVERED
Secretary of State
State of New Hampshire
Dept. of State
107 N. Main St. Rm 204
Concord, NH 03301

Re: RECESS

Dear Mr. Gardner:

This letter is being prepared for delivery to you following today’s lunch break.

Earlier today, Assistant Secretary of State David Scanlan asked me for my consent to a recess in the recount, the recess to span Tuesday and Wednesday of next week.

This is to inform you that I strenuously object to any suspension of the recount process.

I can think of no more important business for the State than the completion of the recount process.

The nation is in the early stages of the 2008 Presidential electoral process. The performance of the machines used in New Hampshire is of vital importance. The sooner the results are known and available to the People and to other units of government charged with conducting Primaries and General Elections, the better for the nation.

In addition, with the sudden start of the recount process, I and the observers have made costly arrangements for transportation, housing and personal time away from their places of employment that cannot be changed without personal harm.

Before any decision is made to suspend the recount over my objection I am respectfully requesting that you cite your legal authority to suspend the recount over my objections and under the current facts and circumstances; it was bad enough that the recount was not started on the date explicitly required by New Hampshire law.

Very truly yours,

Albert B. Howard

Howard had requested the hand count after noting that results reported by C-SPAN on Election Night allegedly showed him as having many more votes than were finally reported in the official results after the polls closed. He gave a check for $57,600, raised by supporters, to the SoS on January 16th. His hand count finally began yesterday, after Kucinich's stopped when the funds submitted so far had apparently been spent.

Yesterday, we pointed to Gardner's apparent lie to the media, claiming that Democratic candidate Dennis Kucinich was "satisfied at the integrity of the recount" despite a letter from Kucinich to Gardner the day before (posted exclusively by The BRAD BLOG here), clearly revealing Kucinich to be anything but "satisfied," and, in fact, having requested "a complete and accurate recount of all ballots" to be carried out at state expense, given the "significant variances" discovered so far during the counting of just one NH county.

We had left a message with the SoS office seeking comment and/or clarification for Gardner's statement to the media. He has yet to return our call.

UPDATE 1/26/08, 1:35am PT: We've been on the road, and in a media conference all day, so haven't been able to follow up ourselves, but an emailer writes to tell us, "the NH SOS told Albert Howard that there would be NO recess in the counting of ballots next week".

Bev Harris reports in comments (along with additional thoughts on the dynamics of SoS Gardner and Dept. SoS David Scanlan) that she has received a similar report from someone else on the ground in NH, that the count will proceed without hold up. Though the reasons for the initially attempted halt remain a mystery for now.

What's clear is that standing up, and pushing back loudly and publicly by Howard has made a difference. If Democrats did the same, we'd probably not be in this fine mess in the first place...

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By Brad Friedman on 1/23/2008 12:43pm PT  

[Article updated at bottom. Additional information from Kucinich now here.]

On the New Hampshire Sec. of State's website this morning, the top of the Election Contest hand-count results page says:

"THE KUCINICH RECOUNT STOPPED THIS MORNING (JAN. 23, 2008) BECAUSE FUNDS RAN OUT."

We've confirmed with Kucinich campaign rep David Bright, who was in Concord this morning, that they have indeed stopped counting as of today, after only a single county, and not even fully at that. We're trying to learn more, and will reserve full comment until we do. Suffice it to say that given the many miscounts being discovered, the horrendous shape of NH's "chain of custody", the refusal of the SoS to allow for the counting/reconciliation of unvoted (blank) ballots, the Diebold memory cards which seem to be missing and/or destroyed since the election (in violation of federal law), it would be disappointing, at best, if Kucinich failed to finish what he so appropriately began.

In the meantime, the halt to the Kucinich count means that the Republican hand count, requested by candidate Albert Howard, will begin tomorrow. If his letter --- containing very thorough and appropriate Public Records Requests, submitted with his original request for a count to the Sec. of State (see his full letter at bottom of this article) --- is any indication, it would seem Howard and his team may be taking on this hand count with the seriousness that it and the voters of NH and America deserve.

Candidate Howard sent us the following missive movements ago...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Also: Diebold Memory Cards Unaccounted For; Public Record Request by Election Integrity Advocates on Ground Reveal 550+ Votes Read as Blank by Op-Scanner in Stratham...
Clinton, Kucinich Observers There, Nobody from Obama or Edwards, Says Election Attorney...
By Brad Friedman on 1/16/2008 8:09pm PT  

Blogged by Brad Friedman from on the road...

(As mentioned in previous items, I'm now on the road --- currently in Oakland for the Thursday night screening of the more-ironically-named-than-ever documentary, UNCOUNTED: The New Math of American Elections --- and doing my best to keep up while moving. So apologies for the terse reports for the moment, as I continue to roll and have limited time online.)

LATEST OUT OF NH: Disparities being found during hand-counts of ballots, in many wards, many candidates. Diebold op-scan memory cards unaccounted for at the moment, Secretary of State (SoS) doesn't track them after elections, doesn't track error reports during elections. LHS Associates (see below) handles all of it instead, according to reports on the ground. Public records request reveals hundreds of ballots in one area scanned as blank due to incorrect ink used on ballots, and other problems on LHS problem report forms.

* * *

Numbers are now being posted from both the Democratic and Republican hand-counts in the NH Primary Election contest. So far, only wards in Manchester (Hillsborough County) have been hand-counted, and disparities between the original counts from the Diebold optical-scan machine and the hand inspections seem to be occurring in many wards, and for many candidates.

Here is the SoS Recount page with the totals, that I haven't yet been able to review in full.

While sources on the ground at the counting today have told me that officials were not announcing the originally counted results at the counting room, the SoS web page lists what they claim are the original counts --- previously verified by nobody --- versus the recounted numbers.

The disparities, as I've quickly been able to review them, are small, but consistent, in ward after ward, across almost all of the candidates. I'm told that the manufacturers of the optical-scan machines (in this case, Diebold) have estimated an expected error rate of 1% on this type of tallying device which, as noted by one of our contacts in NH, is ridiculous, if you consider that most states and counties only kick in "automatic recounts" when the margin between the two leading candidates is less than .5% or so.

ADDITIONALLY...Public records requests are being made on the spot, for errors and malfunctions at various voting precincts. An early review of the error forms turned over from the public record request made by Election Integrity experts overseeing the counting, has revealed that in Stratham there were some 550 ballots that were not read by the op-scan at all. They were seen as blank ballots. Officials there noticed the problem, and then hand-counted some 3000 ballots after the error was discovered.

Apparently, as we've seen elsewhere, voters were given the wrong pen to use and the op-scanners did not "see" this particular type of ink.

Some of the election day error and incident reports, as read to me over the phone just now by Susan Pynchon of Florida Fair Elections Coalition and Paddy Shaffer of Ohio Election Justice Campaign, both of whom are on the ground in NH overseeing the counts, and assisting Republican contest candidate Albert Howard...

(Town of Stratham, 9:00pm)

PROBLEM: Printout indicated 550 "blank voted" ballots which indicated that bad pens were used.
SOLUTION: Went to Stratham to confirm that approximately 15 bad pens were used on election day. The town had, by that time, hand counted and announced those results as official.

PROBLEM: Too many blanks, used wrong marking pens
SOLUTION: Sent Gerry and Tina with lucid machines.

(Town of Lebanon, precinct #2, 9:00 (am or pm?))

PROBLEM: Corrupt Count.
SOLUTION: Shut off and back on. Count back to 155.

(Town of Manchester, 9:30pm)

PROBLEM: P/U 3rd Bad Machine per John S. (likely refers to John Silvestro, owner of LHS)
SOLUTION:

I spoke with Bev Harris of BlackBoxVoting.org, who is also on the ground in NH, and she asks: "If it wasn't 550 ballots, but just 55 or so in some places, would they even have seen it and known to recount ALL of the ballots?"

She also noted that the error report came from LHS Associates, the private company (with the, um, less-than-reputable background) that is the sole Diebold vendor, programmer, operator and service provider in NH and most of the other New England states.

(UPDATE: Harris has more of her own first-hand observations now posted here at BBV.)

LHS, apparently, is the one responsible for tracking (or not) and reporting (or not) any such errors, rather than the Secretary of State or local election officials. That tracks with previous BRAD BLOG reporting on LHS, and how they operate in Connecticut, where there are similar concerns for whether or not the SoS even knows what the error rates are for the system they use, since problem reports are given to LHS instead of to public officials.

The BRAD BLOG has reported within the past few days machine problems during the election in a number of towns. In fact, of the first four towns we called that used the Diebold machines, all four reported machine failures of one type or another.

FURTHER...Voting Rights attorney John Bonifaz, legal director of VoterAction.org, was on the scene today, and just told me that he has great concerns about the transparency of both the initial election and the hand-count auditing process that got under way in earnest today.

"I'm very concerned that this is not a fully transparent process that is happening there," he told me.

The sensitive memory cards containing the programming and tabulation from the Diebold optical-scanners are apparently "missing in action" for the moment. Those cards, as viewers of HBO's Hacking Democracy know by now, may be used to hack an election, such that only a proper hand-count of the paper ballots afterwards will reveal the hack. (See the video of that hack for yourself right here. The same exact machine being hacked in that film was used across the state to count 80% of the ballots in NH in last week's primary.)

And yet, says Bonifaz who spent time today speaking with New Hampshire Secretary of State, Assistant Secretary of State and Deputy Attorney General, nobody seems to have any idea where those cards are and what has become of them.

He says he was told by Secretary of State William Gardner that his office doesn't get involved in tracking what happens to those memory cards. Some have reportedly been returned to LHS, and may have had their memory erased already.

"When you have a private company counting 80% of the votes, and you later learn that the memory cards are unaccounted for, you have a serious question about the transparency and accountability in that process," Bonifaz said.

He notes that federal law requires all materials from elections be preserved for 22 months after the election. So if those materials have already been lost, destroyed, or over-written, there are legal questions that must be addressed.

Bonifaz also noted that while representatives and observers for the Hillary Clinton and Dennis Kucinich campaigns were on site, nobody at all seemed to be there from either the Barack Obama or John Edwards camps. (Incredibly enough, I might add!)

* * *

Our earlier report today had a number of important updates that you may wish to review. Including the fact that the Kucinich people have asked for more observers (with video cameras if you have them!) at the State Archives Bldg., 71 South Fruit Street, Concord, New Hampshire, to help oversee the 6 counting teams. Much more in that report as well...

UPDATE 1/17/08 6:25 PM PST by Emily Levy: There are enough volunteers for tomorrow's counting. After Friday's counting, the count will be suspended for the Dr. Martin Luther King Holiday weekend and is scheduled to resume next Tuesday. Folks on the ground in NH ask that you not show up there without talking with someone first, as they don't want anyone to make the trip unless they're needed. Volunteering will be coordinated, and that system is being set up now. Check back here for updates.

For related coverage, please see our index of notable New Hampshire-related BRAD BLOG articles, since the '08 Primary. And please consider donating to our efforts to continue to report on issues of Election Integrity in NH and elsewhere, as what virtually nobody else in the media (MSM or blogosphere!) seems willing to do at this time.
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SEVERAL UPDATES: Howard's Funds, in Full, Now Accepted by SoS Gardner, Republican Recount is On!
By Emily Levy on 1/15/2008 5:34pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Emily Levy of VelvetRevolution.us
-- Now UPDATED several times by Brad Friedman from on the road...

Brad just called me with the following:

"I'm in Sacramento tonight for screening of Uncounted but wanted to give you a quick update. Dennis Kucinich's campaign did in fact get their money in on time. The recount will be starting tomorrow. However, on the Republican side, though the money was wired to the bank for candidate Albert Howard, according to sources on the ground, something at the bank delayed release of the funds in time to meet Secretary of State Gardner's 3:00 p.m. deadline. As I wrote last night, Gardner's demand for full up-front payment does not seem to be in accordance with the law, which requires only a written guarantee that payment will be made. Trying to learn more but may not have anything until tomorrow because I'm off the grid for much of the night."

Guess that's a solar-powered movie, then.

UPDATE: Apparently SOS Gardner will still allow Howard and his team to have a count if he comes in with the money later, according to hints in the Union Leader.

And in BRAD BLOG comments, Bev Harris explains some of the details from on the ground, and what seem to be disparities in the way Gardner is handling the Dem. Kucinich count, versus the Rep. Howard count.

UPDATE FROM BRAD, 1/16/08, 10:35am PT: I was able to speak to some of the Kucinich folks last night (stepping out from the screening in Sac) to try impress upon them some of the chain-of-custody issue concerns described in Bev's comments below. We'll see if I made any progress. As I tried to explain in yesterday's piece, due to the extraordinarily complex and technological systems used in elections these days, a simple count of the paper ballots does not do the trick.

Most notably, I've tried to draw the Kucinich team's attention to Albert Howard's extraordinarily good letter to SoS Gardner, describing exactly what is needed if one is to have a legitimate and reconcilable recount that will offer the confidence in the count, as sought in the first place. If you haven't seen that letter, please do. It's at the bottom of this post from yesterday, and serves as a very good template for any candidate asking for a recount these days, in an election using a computerized voting systems such as the easily hackable, prone-to-error Diebold op-scan system (and many others just like it!)

Still on the road today, rolling from Sac to Oakland, so on and off the net throughout the day. More updates when I'm able...

UPDATE FROM BRAD, 1/16/08, 1:05pm PT: Just spoke with Albert Howard spokesperson Eric Newhouse. Just after 3pm ET, a check for the full $55,600 was delivered to and accepted by SoS Gardner for the Republican-side hand count. The Republican ballot count, he says, will now begin... More, again, as I can learn it as I roll in N. California...

UPDATE FROM BRAD, 1/16/08, 1:17pm PT: Marc "Armed Liberal" Danziger --- who last week had called me "Tawana Brawley" (an African-American woman who had claimed, without evidence, that she was gang-raped by a number of high-ranking, white NY public officials some years ago) --- has just written a new post headlined "Start Sauteeing The Crow". Writes Danziger [emphasis his]

As irritated as I was at Brad Friedman for coming out of the gate with what I saw as a conclusion unsupported by specific evidence, I fully share his discomfort with the current technology and processes used in voting in New Hampshire.

Now, the first rigorous study I've seen of the voter data has come out - and it supports him.

He points to a "rigorous study" at ScienceBlogs.com and quotes from their analysis of the reported NH results (as "counted", until now, only by an error-prone, hackable Diebold optical scanner, and double-checked by nobody). Danziger says they write:

To my complete (and continuing) amazement, the "diebold effect" on Hillary's votes remains after controlling for any and all of those demographic variables..., with a p-value of <.001: that is, there are less than 1:1000 odds for this difference occurring through chance alone, and that's after adjusting for variability in Hillary's votes due to education, income, total population, and population density.

Note: I'm still on the roll and haven't had time to check the study he points to yet.

Also note: Danziger, above, claims that he was "irritated" (he had written I deserved a "boot to the head" and was claiming a "Diebold conspiracy") when I offered "a conclusion unsupported by specific evidence".

The only "conclusion", I ever "offered" was that 80% of the paper-ballots in NH have never been counted by anybody. That conclusion is 100% accurate, and fully supported by very specific (and undisputed) evidence. I wrote, at length, about Danziger and others of his supposedly-Progressive ilk, and their phony unevidenced claims about my accurate claims back here.

He needn't "sautee crow". What he needs to do is retract and apologize. Period. Not sure why that's so difficult for him (and the others).

UPDATE FROM BRAD VIA EMILY, 1/16/08, 5:11 pm PT:
HAND COUNT OBSERVERS NEEDED IMMEDIATELY IN N.H.

Brad phoned from the road to say:

"Have been speaking with the Kucinich folks, and am encouraged by the early word. It seems they may finally be begging to "get it". Will have more soon when I'm back online and can get you more.

But for now, the Kucinich team is putting out the word that they need more observers for the election contest hand-counts in New Hampshire immediately. If you are available to get there, they are counting every day starting at 9:00 a.m. at the State Archives Building, 71 South Fruit Street, Concord, New Hampshire. Contact lead Kucinich attorney Manny Krasner on the scene. Bring video cameras and lots of blank tapes if you can."

See update on volunteering, below.

UPDATE: 1/16/08, 8:15pm PT: Final update in this thread. RESULTS OF FIRST DAY HAND-COUNT NOW IN. Many mis-tallied ballots reported, Diebold memory cards now "missing", much more. Details now here...

UPDATE 1/17/08 6:25 PM PST by Emily Levy: There are enough volunteers for tomorrow's counting. After Friday's counting, the count will be suspended for the Dr. Martin Luther King Holiday weekend and is scheduled to resume next Tuesday. Folks on the ground in NH ask that you not show up there without talking with someone first, as they don't want anyone to make the trip unless they're needed. Volunteering will be coordinated, and that system is being set up now. Check back here for updates.

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Election Integrity Experts Converge and Join Both Republican and Democratic Candidates in Quest for Transparency
New Hampshire Secretary of State Questioned About Documentation, Poll Records, and Diebold Memory Cards...
By Brad Friedman on 1/15/2008 4:27am PT  

By Brad Friedman from Sacramento...

Election Integrity experts from around the country have been converging on the Granite State over the last several days, in preparation for "historic" state-wide hand counts of New Hampshire's Primary Election ballots, The BRAD BLOG has learned. Counts of votes on both the Democratic and Republican sides will begin in earnest this Wednesday, as long as the two contesting candidates deliver certified checks by 3pm on Tuesday, in amounts determined on Monday by Secretary of State William M. Gardner.

The battle for transparency and accountability on the ground, where some 80% of the state's ballots were tallied only by error-prone, hackable Diebold optical-scan voting machines, without human audit or spot-checking of any kind, in last week's first-in-the-nation Primary, is already growing heated on both sides of the aisle, and even inside the statehouse as of Monday.

While representatives from each of the contestants have reportedly been working together on several aspects of the two separate counts --- each claiming to have requested the hand-counts in order to help answer questions about anomalous reported results --- what has become immediately clear, during our interviews with several members involved in the challenges as well as Election Integrity advocates now in New Hampshire and elsewhere, is that these election challenges likely may not mirror the partial recount in 2004, held at the request of then-Presidential candidate Ralph Nader.

The BRAD BLOG has obtained the two-page request for a detailed list of ballot and voting machine-related public documents and records submitted on Monday to Gardner by the previously obscure Republican candidate Albert Howard. Howard's request makes clear that the battle for integrity and transparency in post-election challenges may have finally caught up with the technical sea-changes in voting equipment that have overtaken the American election system over the last several years.

Due to extraordinary complexities in the ever more complicated computer systems, scanners, tabulators, record sets, databases, and proprietary programming that have now been employed by election administrators across the country, the once-simple task of examining and recounting paper ballots --- where they still exist, as they do in New Hampshire --- has grown exponentially more technical and confusing.

Early word on the ground in New Hampshire's capital city of Concord, along with concerns from candidates, surrogates, and election experts alike, suggests that these "recounts" could be like no other in the history of the country...

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