They Stand By Their Man (Which Turns Out To Be Their Stated Purpose)
By Emily Levy on 8/7/2006, 1:56pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Emily Levy

Claims that electronic voting equipment sleepovers are just peachy sound mighty defensive in an issue paper titled "Voting Equipment 'Sleepover' Practice" issued July 27, 2006 by the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials (CACEO).

"The California Association of Clerks and Election Officials (CACEO) recognizes that distributing secured voting equipment to poll workers prior to Election Day is an efficient, accountable, and transparent practice that contributes to the orderly and secure conduct of elections."

It may come as no shock that the president of the CACEO is none other than Conny McCormack, Registrar of Voters from Los Angeles County, pictured here on a Diebold brochure. San Diego RoV Mikel Haas is on the Board of Directors. Despite the CACEO not being a government entity, it has an important job to do. Why, its motto is even "Officium populi, office of the people." But wait! In their bylaws we find, under "Objects and Purposes":

"To Promote Welfare of Members: To promote the welfare of members of the Association and the counties they represent."

And the populi aren’t invited to become members, in case you were wondering.

Stop for a minute and imagine what your life would be like if you had an organization of elected officials dedicated to promoting your welfare! The places you’d go! Start applying for those grants now!

You can relax,

"The CACEO association [sic] is committed to promote public confidence in the administration of elections..."

Did I hear anything about the necessity of a basis for that confidence?

Yes, Conny, the sleepovers are transparent all right. We See Right Through Them. And You. (And by the way, how come your CACEO letterhead and website list current officers as having terms that ended last year?)

Sleepovers are efficient, too-- if you don't count the minor detail that sending hackable electronic voting systems home with pollworkers renders the equipment uncertified and illegal to use! What could be more efficient than spending millions on election equipment that can't legally be used to conduct elections, I ask you?

The July 27 issue paper details the "safeguards" the CACEO claims "ensure that the integrity of the elections process is maintained." These include pollworkers having taken an oath (you mean like the one GWB took to uphold the constitution?), pollworkers having comprehensive training (that's three hours, in case you were wondering), and the infallibility of those "tamper-evident seals" on the machines.

As Congressional candidate Jeeni Criscenzo blogs of her visits to polling places on June 6,

"There were supposed to be tamper-proof seals on the back and front of the scanners where they met with the cardboard box, to prevent anyone from reaching into the box to remove ballots that had been scanned. In far too many instances the poll workers had put the wrong seals on, using regular paper seals that would leave no mark behind if they had been removed and reattached. In many cases, because the cardboard boxes were collapsing or the scanners had been jammed, the seals had been removed and re-stuck, showing the telltale metal residue. NO ONE seemed to care about these seals. Even the folks at the ROV said they weren't really that important. My question: Why bother having a tamper-proof seal if no one cares if it's been tampered with?"

It's a good thing the CACEO trusts the pollworkers. You know, that group of people made up mostly of people unwilling to commit felonies? I’m a pollworker myself. It's nice to be trusted. Election officials like to be trusted, too. Tony Anchundo of Monterey County, for example, who said on the Peter B. Collins Show, "There is obviously going to have to be some trust and faith in the elections official, or in this case, it's me." Please note that that was before his indictment on 43 criminal charges. On the issue of trust and elections, I echo the words of Ion Sancho, Elections Supervisor of Leon County, Florida: "Trust no one. If it can't be verified, it can't be used."

But does the CACEO trust pollworkers, as it claims?

In their own whitepaper, California Election Officials Proclaim Need for Major Election Reform, created in mid 2004 and then reviewed/updated spring 2005, the CACEO declares:
"The state's elections have become...far too complex for pollworkers (who are volunteers recruited from a cross-section of the general public) to administer."

This statement was written before the 2004 election and anticipated the following problems, among others:

-Pollworkers resign after attending training classes and learning of the complexity of the process.
-Pollworkers who do serve on election day not adequately trained.
-Replacement pollworkers pressed into service without any training at all.
-Insufficient and untrained pollworkers who administer elections in an inconsistent and possibly illegal manner.
These irregularities will call into question the outcome of elections that are won by narrow margins.
[emphasis added]

They sure will, Conny!

Attorney Paul Lehto, of the Busby/Bilbray election contest lawsuit filed last week, points out that the list of burdens on pollworkers "does not list sleepover/machine custody/security of computer forensic evidence as an additional duty adding complication, but surely it does (if it were a duty taken seriously)."

The CACEO whitepaper expresses "concern amongst California’s election officials that they may no longer be able to conduct elections within an acceptable level of error, and therefore, the integrity of the voting franchise in the state will be seriously compromised." But the problem, as they see it, is not the corporatization of our elections nor the riggable, hackable electronic voting systems themselves, nor the partisan efforts at massive voter disenfranchisement.

From the whitepaper again, "The single greatest threat to the democratic process in California is the lack of volunteers to serve as pollworkers on election day." Again, that was written two years ago. Maybe offering pollworkers the opportunity to rig the whole election has sweetened the pot to the point that getting enough volunteers will no longer be a problem.