I'll withhold most of my personal thoughts here for the moment, since Gail Pellerin, County Clerk for Santa Cruz County, CA, has agreed to come back to continue this discussion on the Peter B. Collins Show this Friday. For the moment then, I'll just let you listen and offer your own thoughts on this conversation from last Friday's show.
Pellerin and I appeared on PBC's radio show to discuss issues of Election Integrity, CA SoS Debra Bowen's "Top-to-Bottom Review" and the Sequoia Voting System that Pellerin uses in Santa Cruz, the hometown of former CA SoS Bruce McPherson.
She is on the public record as having said last July at the public hearing in Sacramento for Bowen's TTB Review: "I can guarantee that every eligible vote is counted accurately," about which, you can imagine, I challenged her on the show. As well, in the interview (complete audio below) she commits to sending her voting systems home yet again on "sleepovers" with poll workers in next year's elections. I also had a thing or two to say to say about that, as you may have guessed. Suffice to say, it was a lively interview.
Pellerin --- presumably a Democrat, as she once worked in the CA state assembly for then-Speaker Willie Brown --- was scheduled only for the first half-hour of the show, but fortunately called back for the final segment to answer some of the questions that I didn't have time to ask her about when she was on the air. I greatly appreciate her willingness to do so and to stand up to the fire.
You'll want to stay tuned for that final segment.
As well, be sure to tune in this Friday at 5pm on the PBC Show (listening link here), where she has agreed to come back and pick up where we left off. I greatly appreciate her willingness to do so. The continued discussion can only benefit voters both in Santa Cruz (one of the locations where Peter's show is heard live on the air) and across the nation, where Elections Officials and Election Integrity advocates must continue to find ways to work together to solve our problems and push back at the damaging, cynical, divisive, selfish, and inaccurate propaganda being forwarded by the Voting Machine Companies.
NOTE 9/22/07: Pellerin returned for another full hour on 9/21/07, the week following this broadcast, in order to follow up on this week's interview. That subsequent second interview and text transcript has now been posted here...
-- Santa Cruz County, CA, County Clerk Gail Pellerin and Brad Friedman on the Peter B. Collins Show, 9/14/07 (appx 41 mins. w/ commercials now removed):
Complete text-transcript of the hour now follows below...
with guests Brad Friedman and Gail Pellerin, Santa Cruz (California) County Clerk
September 14, 2007
transcribed by Emily Levy
PETER B. COLLINS: Every week about this time we turn the topic to election integrity, election protection, and our go-to guy is Brad Friedman, the proprietor of BRADBLOG.com, and for a change he's back in the golden state of Colly-fornia. Hello, Brad.
BRAD FRIEDMAN: Hi, Peter. How are ya. Safely ensconced back in Los Angeles after three months on the road. Good to be back.
PBC: And the Bradmobile? No breakdowns?
BF: Well, there were some breakdowns but we paid, paid to fix it and we made it back alive.
PBC: (laughs) Good. And we're pleased to be joined today by Gail Pellerin. She is the Santa Cruz County clerk and manages the election action there in Santa Cruz County, California. Gail Pellerin, welcome to the Peter B. Collins show.
GAIL PELLERIN: Hi! Thanks for having me.
PBC: Well, it's great to have you on because we wanted to get some viewpoints from people who are on the frontlines of the voting issues in our country today, and you're right there in Santa Cruz, we're on KRXA in Monterey and lots of listeners in the Santa Cruz area, so we're pleased to have you here and we wanted to get some background on how things work in Santa Cruz County. Want to talk about the new Secretary of State, Debra Bowen's top-to-bottom review, what you agree with and what you don't, and we just welcome your honest comments here on the issues that we'd like to discuss. First of all, just a little background, I understand you worked in the San Francisco voting department before you moved over to Santa Cruz. Is that right?
GP: That's incorrect.
PBC: OK, well, straighten me out.
GP: (laughs) No, prior to coming to Santa Cruz County in 1993 I actually worked for the state legislature.
PBC: Oh, OK. And what did you do there?
GP: I was a legislative aide to an Assembly member.
PBC: OK. You want to say which one, or is it a secret?
GP: Willie Brown.
GP: When he was Speaker of the Assembly.
PBC: Well, everybody knows Willie!
GP: Yeah. No, I'm very proud of that work. It was a great education, and a lot of hard-working people in Sacramento, so. You're in Sacramento today, I hear …
GP: So hats off to getting a budget passed (laughter). I know those drills. They go on for a long time.
PBC: And tell us what your experience has been over the last few years. Of course, there have been a lot of controversies about election processes and in particular the use of electronic voting machines. What's your attitude toward that and what is the current mix of technology or systems that you use in Santa Cruz County?
GP: OK, that's a lot of loaded questions there.
PBC: You think so?
GP: I've seen a lot of changes cine 1993 when I first started working in elections in Santa Cruz. In fact, I don't think we've ever conducted an election the same way twice.
GP: Laws are constantly changing, and coming from the Sacramento capital environment and coming here, it's a very stressful environment in elections. There's a lot of laws and regulations you have to keep track of and the laws change frequently. The most, latest change of course, is the Help America Vote Act of 2002 that required every polling site in the nation to have a voting unit where a voter could come in and vote independently and privately. So a voter, for example, who may have a visual impairment, they are not able to use a pencil and vote on a piece of paper if they can't read that. So in California there was the electronic touch screen units that were certified for use. And I'm happy to say that at least in Santa Cruz County the voting structure that Secretary Bowen approved to be used statewide is the model we deployed in Santa Cruz County, which is the one touch screen unit per polling site with the majority of the voters continuing to cast votes on paper ballots and, that are then counted at the polls with a scanner.
PBC: So you do use optical scanners to count the paper ballots.
GP: Because there's a provision of the Help America Vote Act--and certainly all this is subject to challenge--but there is a provision of the Help America Vote Act that requires what's called "second chance voting," or basically alerting the voter to when an error has occurred on the ballot. So if it's a school board race where it's a vote-for-three and they vote for four, that's an overvote and that would be rejected by the scanner and alert the voter to that error. They could spoil the ballot and recast it correctly.
PBC: Mm-hmm. Alright.
GP: And then of course if they miss-mark their ballot entirely and circle their choices instead of voting in the target area then it would reject the ballot as unmarked and they could correctly mark it.
PBC: Alright. Brad, do you want to ask a loaded question next?
BF: (laughs) Well, I didn't think your …
GP: I didn't realize Brad was here, too. I … (laughs)
PBC: Oh, yes. It's not a debate. We're just asking questions. Go ahead, Brad.
BF: Don't worry, I'm easy. Actually, I want to congratulate you for having the foresight to go with paper ballots in the first place out there for the most part, though I was recalling actually back in '05, and I wonder what ever came of this, it seemed that a public hearing at the time when you were looking at the new systems to go to, that most of the folks in the public seemed to have wanted the AutoMARK system versus the Sequoia DRE system and I'm curious why you ended up going with the Sequoia DREs versus the AutoMARK given all of the problems we knew at the time about the Sequoia DREs and that have certainly been underscored since by Bowen's top-to-bottom review.
GP: Well, I mean I think what we did is we had a public advisory committee, we had a county task force, and we did a number of public demonstrations and we had a website and we were out doing dog-and-pony shows throughout all the different organizations and our research showed that the Sequoia system actually was rated higher. So, you know, and we also have a history with Sequoia. They've been a vendor of ours serving us with printing our ballots. We have a good history, and I felt at the time that that was the best system for Santa Cruz County.
PBC: And, Gail Pellerin, how did that decision-making process work? Are you independent, and as the County Clerk you get to make that decision, or do you make a recommendation that is then subject to approval by the Board of Supervisors?
GP: I am an elected County Clerk, and I made that recommendation to our Board [of Supervisors], and our Board then went ahead and recommended me to go ahead and negotiate a contract with Sequoia. And it was interesting, actually our task force, our county task force actually thought electronic voting was a very good option and our voters were very split, pretty much divided on electronic versus paper. And that's why we went ahead and kept the paper-based model and went ahead and just added the one touch screen.
BF: Gail, if I could jump in, why do you think--because you were at that hearing, I wasn't--why do you think back in '05, what were the reasons that most of the folks in the public were giving that they wanted to go with AutoMARK and not Sequoia at the time?
GP: Well, I didn't get that information. So I'm not sure what information you're seeing. But I didn't see from people that they wanted to go with AutoMARK.
BF: Oh, OK, I had read a report at VotersUnite based on that hearing, and that was the report that they gave. So I wasn't there and so I was curious what the prevailing public wind was on that particular point.
GP: No, I mean our data pretty much showed Sequoia having the most points, let's say, they had the most thorough RFQ that was submitted. It had a number of different checks and balances along the way. I mean, there were some people who supported AutoMARK, but I also in checking with some of the references of the company, I didn't get really good rave reviews. So I felt that at that point, I mean, to tell you the truth, what I described it as is I felt like I was in an airplane and I was told I had to jump now. And I had to turn around and pick a parachute. One was made by, you know, ES&S, one was made by Diebold and one was made by Sequoia and one was made by Hart and I had to grab one. And I felt that the one I grabbed was Sequoia because I had the most confidence in them as a company.
BF: Well, believe me, I have great sympathy for you and actually all of the election registrars who had to choose between some pretty bad choices …
PBC: Well, and the layers, the layers of regulation. You've got local, you've got state, you had HAVA intervening there. And, Gail Pellerin, in your case, Bruce McPherson was a state senator from the Santa Cruz area who replaced Kevin Shelley when he resigned in disgrace as Secretary of State and I'm wondering if Mr. McPherson had any direct relationship with you as you were working through some of these issues during his tenure as Secretary of State?
GP: I mean, nothing different than in a professional capacity, that he was our Secretary of State. He actually came and visited every county elections office in the state and came in and talked to us and asked for our concerns. And at the time our biggest concern was the HAVA money because, as you know, Kevin Shelley misused apparently or allegedly …
GP: I don't know if that's been proven, but …
GP: … there were some issues with the HAVA money and the feds were holding onto a lot of the funds.
GP: And he went back east and secured the money so that was probably one of the primary concerns at the time is getting the full California allotment of federal money to help us meet this mandate. And that's really what we were all looking at, is, OK, the laws changed again and we've got to shift gears and let's implement what the federal government has mandated.
PBC: Now, I recall that McPherson recertified Diebold machines after Shelley had raised questions about them. Did he take any action related to the Sequoia machines that you use in Santa Cruz County? That would have been about March of 2006?
GP: We didn't have them yet, that's actually around the time when we signed the contract. We did not get full deployment til November 2006, but a number of things that were implemented were parallel monitoring and a number of security conditions on each of the voting systems, which we met.
PBC: OK, we need to take a break and when we come back I want to get your thoughts about the top-to-bottom review and some of the recommendations that have come and policy changes from the new Secretary of State, Debra Bowen. We're talking with Santa Cruz County Clerk Gail Pellerin. Brad Friedman is with me as usual here from BRADBLOG.com. Eighteen minutes after the hour. If you'd like to join the conversation, we've got lines open at 888-5-PETER-B, 888-573-8372. More in a moment on the Peter B. Collins Show. [break]
PBC: It's 22 minutes after the hour. We're talking about election issues. Brad Friedman from BRADBLOG.com is with us, as usual, and we're delighted to be talking with Gail Pellerin. She is the County Clerk of Santa Cruz County, California, in charge of election processes in Santa Cruz. And Gail Pellerin, next I'd just like to ask you about Debra Bowen, the new Secretary of State, who conducted a fairly rigorous review of voting processes and the hackability of electronic voting machines and many other issues. What is your take on that process and are you pleased with the outcome? Do you have any disagreements about some of the policies that she has enunciated?
GP: Well, first of all, I would have liked to see elections officials involved. We had a team of people representing each of the voting systems. And it would have been nice to have some input into the process early on and I think that a lot of us here have years of expertise, knowledge and experience conducting elections I think really could have added and helped out some of the procedures that she did.
GP: Then, as far as the final review that came out, you know, there's things that puzzle me. There's things that confuse me. Like how do you get five voters to, you know, we're mandated to make sure five voters voluntarily cast ballots on each touch screen unit. And I'm not sure how I do that. I had some precincts where I had no voters. I had some precincts with two voters. I had some with, you know, 50 voters. So we're not used to telling people or encouraging people to vote one method over another. We offer paper, we offer touch screen, we offer voting by mail. We offer ballot delivery for people who are homebound and unable to go to their polling sites. So there are a number of conditions that do puzzle me, things that I'm not sure what is meant and how we're supposed to do it. In my view, what we want to do is we want to comply with the laws. We want to comply with the mandates. And so I did ask for some clarification on a number of points that I'm really not sure that we're supposed to do the things that she's mandating us to do.
PBC: Well, if you run into trouble recruiting those volunteers, let me know and we'll put the word out here on the radio.
GP: Well, we are. In fact, I want Brad to come down and work in one of our polling sites. What do you think, Brad?
BF: Well, I would love to do that, I …
GP: Perfect! I'd love to get your phone number and we'll get you signed up, cuz we really do need people.
BF: We'll be happy to give you that, although …
GP: … and I think that really is the front row seat on how …
BF: …although election day …
GP: … elections are conducted.
BF: …election day is sort of my busy season around here so it's kind of hard to do that. But …
GP: Well, it's February fifth primary, that'd be a perfect time. There's not too many local contests, and …
BF: Well, I would certainly love to talk to you about that more. Do you guys use, by the way, do you have sleepovers of voting machines out there?
GP: We do, we have always sent home ballots with our inspectors, whether they're in the form of paper or electronic. And …
BF: So you do do that with voting machines, still?
GP: What's that?
BF: You still do that with voting machines?
GP: We do that with our paper ballots and our electronic ballots.
BF: And are you still planning to do that again this year?
GP: Yes, we do. We have them sealed with, they're all tracked, they're numbered, each of the tamper-proof seals are numbered …
GP: … and we require two pollworkers other than the pollworker who took it home to confirm the ballots, the sequence of the ballots, and make sure that all the paper ballots are accounted for, and then to also certify that the machine remains locked and sealed. And then we have our first voter sign a certification that zero votes have been cast on the unit.
BF: Well, you're familiar with that Bowen found in fact that those seals on the Sequoia systems that you guys use could be defeated without detection, correct?
GP: And we're working with our vendor on rectifying that. So, and we also are looking into doing background checks on our inspectors who bring home the equipment. Many of them are county employees and, but we do--because we have a county pollworker program because, like I said, we are always in need of those volunteers to come out and help us on election day because it is a very long and tedious day and we do need the extra people. But we are not set up to be able to do drayage on the morning of election day.
BF: Well, I gotta tell ya, I'm very concerned about that and as I read Debra Bowen's restrictions, it seems to me that sleepovers would not be allowed with those machines and frankly common sense, if you read her recertification document, the startling, just startling amount of vulnerabilities found in those Sequoia systems that you guys use would seem to preclude sending these voting systems home on sleepovers, period. Now I don't know what the solution is, but I know what the solution isn't, and that's certainly sending these systems home on sleepovers.
GP: Yeah, well, you know, like I said, we are wanting to comply with the law and what the mandates are. That's one of the issues of clarification. If I'm told otherwise, we'll figure out if it can be done. Certainly Oregon came up with a good response to how to vote, and they went to an initiative and did the vote-by-mail ballot …
BF: Well, I …
GP: … and you know I think that something that California, we've tried to do a number of times in the past, tried to get state legislation to allow us to do our elections by all mail. Plus we had the issue with accessibility at polling sites. You know, Santa Cruz County is 90% above the 2% slope requirement for parking. And we were sued by the Attorney General because we are not flat. And so, that's a hard thing to be responsible for, and so we've been doing a lot of work with the Attorney General's office in trying to move forward and making sure our polling sites are 100% accessible and compliant with ADA and Title 24.
PBC: Well, Gail Pellerin, thank you for joining us today. I appreciate your work, appreciate your talking with us, and we wish you all the best in upcoming elections.
GP: Thank you. I do encourage people to get out and vote and come out and serve at the polls.
PBC: OK. Thank you very much. And Brad's gonna volunteer. I'm going to back you up on that.
BF: Give her my number.
GP: Alright. I'm takin' it.
PBC: We'll take a break and we're going to return with Brad Friedman and we'll take your phone calls next on the Peter B. Collins Show.
PBC: We continue on the Peter B. Collins Show. Brad Friedman is with us from BRADBLOG.com. We're talking about election integrity. You can drop me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org. We got a stack of calls but there's a line open for you right now. 888-5-PETER-B. [music break] And, Brad Friedman, interesting conversation with Gail Pellerin, the County Clerk from Santa Cruz, California. First of all, I give her high marks for agreeing to come on the program and giving us some pretty straight answers given that the former Monterey County Registrar of Voters, Tony Anchundo had promised me a return visit and 41 phone calls later he resigned without returning to the program. So, just right off the bat she gets a plus from me.
BF: Actually, that's 41 phone calls and 43 criminal counts later.
BF: I'm sorry that actually we, I wasn't sure if she was going to be able to stick around or not because I had some other questions I wanted to ask her and I know her, in Santa Cruz your show is on the air, so if she's still listening, I don't mean to throw out these questions sort of behind her back and of course would love to hear from her on a future show. But I was concerned because she did say at the Debra Bowen public hearing for the top-to-bottom review, and this is a quote, "I can guarantee that every eligible vote is counted accurately." That was just in July of this year.
BF: So I don't know how she makes that guarantee, to be frank. And, like I say, I'm not trying to ask behind her back, I had hoped to get to it but we ran out of time there. And I also wanted to know why or if she was planning on suing Sequoia, her vendor, because again, if you read those Debra Bowen documents, they lied to her. I mean, and they speak about it quite directly, that they promised certain things in the software, were not tamper-proof. They promised that it met certain standards and it didn't, including federal standards. And so now a lot of the trouble that she's going to have to go through next February and November of next year is due directly to Sequoia and their irresponsibility and frankly I'd like to see some of these election registrars, I think we've talked about it before, but getting some accountability from these vendors who lied to them in the first place.
PBC: Yeah, well I understand we didn't get into that. In general, she seems pretty comfortable with Sequoia as her vendor.
BF: And that's what I'm worried about. And the reason I had asked her about what the people had said about the AutoMARK at that public hearing a couple of years ago was this concern that I hear from elections officials all over the place that the voters don't seem to come first. You know, a lot of them have said, as Gail did just now, that they would have liked to have seen registrars participating with Debra Bowen in her top-to-bottom review. I'm not sure what that would have gotten us, but I've heard--and I wanted to ask her that as well--but I've heard a lot of them say exactly that. 'Oh, I wish the registrars were involved.' I haven't heard one of them say, 'Gosh, I wish the voters were involved in that top-to-bottom review.' The voters had no say in that top-to-bottom review and continue to have very little say in the entire process. And it's the voters who I think should be coming first here, so when I hear a lot of these elections officials sort of protecting their investment in their vendors despite you hear the people jumpin' up and down, maybe they're calling in today, their concerns, I don't care how secure either these systems are or those vendors--uh, those registrars--think they are, if the people don't feel that way then we've got a serious problem. And I think that's what we've got on our hands right now, even with Gail Pellerin's system.
PBC: Well, you know, Brad, you raise a very important issue there, and I think if we look at it historically, voters have never been really given a voice in the process. And it's really only because of the razor-thin margins and the allegations of misdeeds in the presidential elections of 2000 and 2004 that a new level of scrutiny and awareness and activism has surfaced. And I think part of it was in the past that voters didn't express much interest in the processes and the systems and number one--er, number two--we didn't have that many concerns. Because we felt that, gosh, we went to the polls and our votes were duly tabulated and counted.
BF: Well, that's right. For years, we have presumed that every four years or two years the magical election fairy comes down and pronounces who's going to be the winner. We have since learned that is not the case and that there are processes going on here that the people need to be able to oversee. And with all of the systems--and she mentioned concerns about paper ballots and she's mentioned, as have other registrars, yes, there are concerns with paper ballots. But the trick here is, keep things as transparent as possible so that the people can really monitor every step of the way. And I know for a fact that when you're sending these homes--these voting machines home--on sleepovers as she sounds prepared to do yet again, we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that these systems can be hacked and it can be done so that it is completely undetectable. How she feels that's OK at this point, to put in place a procedure that nobody can oversee, is really beyond me.
PBC: Well, I think it's a very valid concern. Let's take some phone calls. Walt joins us from Crescent City. Walt, you're on the Peter B. Collins show with Brad Friedman.
Walt: OK, thank you, Peter. I'm sorry also that she left because I wanted to ask her some questions. First of all, I've studied each one of these corporations and Sequoia is not the least corrupt but [inaudible word or phrase] one of the top in corruption. One of the major, well, I think he was the CO [CEO?] for awhile but he was one of the top people in Sequoia spent some years in prison for $10 million worth of bribing over a ten-year period.
PBC: Really? Who's that?
Walt: Oh, I can't remember his name, but, because I haven't written it here, but I can send it on to you.
Walt: Also, they were down in South America and the South Americans found them so corrupt that they threw 'em out. And it just, it boggles me, people, these voting machines are proprietary. That means that the company has dominion over that machine at any and all times. And for a voter, for a county clerk to operate her or his services they have to use the Sequoia representative who may be the biggest crook in the world, and I think in many cases probably is. Sequoia has a terrible reputation.
BF: And deservedly so.
Walt: Yes, and deservedly so. And one of the questions I wanted to ask her is that according to material I read, both ES&S and Diebold, they collate 60% of the votes nationwide in the United States, meaning these two companies with crooks at the top can do whatever they want. Once the voting is sent to them, like say presidential--I'm so upset, I …
PBC: That's OK, Walt. You're makin' sense. Go ahead.
Walt: OK, well they have, they manage the collating of 60% of the votes made in the United States, meaning that we've got private corporation with terrible criminal histories deciding how the vote really should be entered nationally. And that means they can enter any damn thing they want to. I mean this whole thing is so corrupt, she's so--and I apologize for talking behind her back also, but--she is so naive as I listen, she doesn't have a clue about what the hell is going on. Now, I've found the same thing here. We have Sequoia also. I mean, they are major corruption. The only thing else they do is they make machines for casinos.
BF: Yeah, they're really bad and actually the ES&S plus Diebold number is more like 80% of …
Walt: Is it?
BF: … of votes tabulated across the country, but …
Walt: We struggle at the local level to enter our votes and to get the thing clean, and then we send it off to the biggest crooks in the country to tell us what we did!
Walt: I mean, it's bizarre!
PBC: Gosh, Walt …
Walt: It's so sick, it's unbelievable.
PBC: When you put it that way … Go ahead, Brad.
BF: Yeah, no, he's absolutely right. And Sequoia is amongst the worst. I mean, as Gail was talking about the fact that she went with them because they had worked with them before with their punch cards, or with their paper ballot system which, by the way, I think that's probably why she went with them again, because in fact the ES&S/AutoMARK combination had put in a lower bid for those machines when they were upgrading and yet she went with Sequoia anyway, but when she mentioned that they had worked on their paper ballots, remember, this is the company that just--what?--two or three weeks ago on Dan Rather Reports was exposed as having purposely used faulty bad paper in the 2000 election for the punch card ballots that went out to Florida and that they specifically misaligned the chads in Palm Beach County only in the general election in 2000, all of which led to the now-infamous hanging chads and the mess that we are in now. And three weeks going since that report, Sequoia has not come up with documents or paperwork or an explanation or even a name to explain who the hell was behind it, why they did it, on whose orders they were working and frankly, I mean, he speaks about the corruption and I can't speak to the criminal activity that he refers to specifically but I'll tell you what, somebody needs to do some explaining on behalf of Sequoia about gaming the 2000 election and they have not done so, and these are the kinds of companies that we're dealing with and that Gail Pellerin for whatever reason seems to think are just great and she seems to trust them just fine.
Walt: Well, our local Clerk has used them for ten years. She pays them to collate the local vote and to control the local vote.
Walt: And she's continuing to do that now with Sequoia. So she's worthless as far as honest voting.
PBC: Walt, is that Del Norte County?
PBC: Uh-huh. OK.
Walt: Should have said that, probably.
PBC: Alright, well thank you very much. I'm glad you're listening in Crescent City today. Good to hear from you.
Walt: Thank you.
PBC: Now to Steve in Sacramento. Thank you, Steve, you're on the air with Brad Friedman.
Steve: Yeah. This may be a little off-subject, but why are we so wedded to this stupid secret ballot stuff? Instead of signing our ballots, which would get rid of all these problems?
BF: Well, for the same reason that we don't allow people to take home paper receipts of their vote, because it leads to vote buying and intimidation …
Steve: OK, back up.
Steve: Our votes are being sold every day in Congress, come on, quit this vote buying stuff. If they're gonna sell it I'd rather get the money.
Steve: No, I'm not joking here. And by the way, if you look at the history of secret ballots it starts with the Roman republic and exactly what you said, they were afraid people would sell their votes and this way the people could look and see how they voted and know if they voted, if they sold their vote.
BF: And we did not always have a secret ballot system, actually, in this country.
Steve: OK, well, back up. I do, and every other voter in this country does, [own?] their representatives. Those people have no secret ballot, they vote openly. Well, if we're so afraid of somebody selling a vote, shouldn't we worry about selling 800,000 votes?
BF: We should …
Steve: Well, that's my point. So why are you so afraid of the secret ballot? It's the Home of the Brave, let's make it the home of the brave …
Steve: … and vote with our signatures.
BF: Well, because a lot of folks will be intimidated, will be …
Steve: OK, then, we're not the Home of the Brave, are we? I've made my point. You can go on to another caller. Thanks.
PBC: Well, thank you, Steve, for dismissing us. I love it when other people control the program. Brad, stand by. Gail Pellerin is on the line and we're going to take our break and return, and we'll get a response from her on some of the questions you raised. I'm glad she called back, so we'll join up with her in just a moment. Forty-seven minutes past the hour, it's the Peter B. Collins Show. You can visit our website at PeterBCollins.com. [break]
PBC: And the Peter B. Collins Show rolls on. We continue with Brad Friedman from BRADBLOG.com, and earlier this hour we talked with Santa Cruz County's Clerk, Gail Pellerin, and then we made some comments and she's called back to respond. Gail, I'm pleased to hear from you again, and I just want to explain that I had agreed to just spend a half an hour with you so I didn't want to impose further on your time, but I'm glad you're with us and go right ahead and respond to the questions that Brad raised a few minutes back.
GP: Sure, well, first of all I want to say that this department and my staff are so dedicated to the voters, I really believe that, I kind of took offense to that statement where we're not thinking about the voters first, and voters always come first in this office. Our customer comes first.
PBC: OK, now that comment was about the top-to-bottom review. He was actually referring to Bowen on that.
BF: No, actually, she, Gail had mentioned why weren't registrars involved in the process. A lot of registrars have said that, and I'm saying why weren't voters involved and why isn't that question being asked?
GP: Yeah, and I just want to say that in this office it really is, you know, people give so much of their time and attention and all of our staff have been trained, and a few of them are trained where we're totally vendor-independent. So when I say I have a history with Sequoia, I'm not saying I know everything about the company and that (laughs), you know, that I've written them in my will …
GP: … I'm just saying that there are individuals that I've worked with for a number of years who are as dedicated as the staff that I have here. And these are people who take time away from their families, vacations, I mean 2008 is going to be quite a wild ride with three statewide elections we're conducting. And with rules that seem to be changing daily.
BF: I understand that, but how does that result in you making a pronouncement that you can guarantee that every eligible vote is counted accurately? Where do you get that guarantee or that idea?
GP: You know what? It's our processes and our procedures that we have. We take great time, care and that every single ballot is handled individually. We count. We recount. We do a ten percent manual audit on our DREs. We did a hundred percent in June. We, like I said, we make sure that every voter who wants to cast a ballot is allowed to. And we go to people's homes, we go to your place of business, we do whatever it takes, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
BF: Look, I know, Gail, I know …
GP: So I, our commitment is one hundred percent there.
BF: I don't question your commitment at all. I do question the guarantee that every eligible vote is counted accurately because I happen to know for a fact that you cannot know that. And when you're frustrated about voters losing confidence in the system, so am I, but it is because of statements like that, not by you but that come from the vendors and frankly McPherson, who says that over and--used to say that over and over again--and there is no way to know that, Gail. And you know that.
GP: I know there's no election that's perfect. I know that every voting system is designed to work perfectly but as soon as you bring the human being into any equation you're going to have errors.
BF: It ain't the human …
GP: I've made mistakes. Pollworkers have made mistakes. Voters make mistakes. Voters sign their ballots. The law says I can't count it then. But I can guarantee that I'm going to give you two hundred percent effort to make sure that if you're an eligible voter in Santa Cruz County, your ballot's going to count accurately.
BF: Uh, again, this is not about your effort to supply that, and I don't question that, not for a second. What I'm saying is that I ain't worried about the human beings, I'm worried about the fact that when you're using a DRE system there is absolutely no proof that any vote has ever been voted, has been counted accurately, and if you can prove to me that any single vote ever cast on a Santa Cruz County DRE has been voted, uh, counted accurately, I will, I will …
GP: I mean, this is what we do. We have the voter verified paper audit trail that prints the votes that the voter has voted …
BF: How do you know that?
GP: Because we test it. Our staff tests it.
BF: How, when do you test it?
GP: We test it prior to election day.
BF: During the L&A testing, for example?
GP: During the L&A and then what we do is we take those paper trails and we recount those.
BF: OK, let, and only because we're short on time here am I sort of jumpin' in, but as Bowen's office found, the L&A mode, logic and accuracy testing mode, is different from election day mode so any hack, let's say inserted during a sleepover without detection, would not be caught during that logic and accuracy testing. And beyond that, I'm sure you're familiar with the Brennan Center report which shows that there is no way, that in fact those paper trails you're relying on can be gamed even if you count them one hundred percent. That's the danger here with these DRE systems.
GP: OK. And what we're trying to do is we are trying to comply with the federal mandates that requires that I have a voting unit that is accessible to persons with disabilities. And I cannot achieve that through paper only.
BF: Well …
GP: And I believe the security processes we have in place and the people, again, it's the people we hire. Maybe I have a greater faith in the human beings and the people of Santa Cruz County, that they are, that they respect the vote, they believe so passionately in a person's right to vote and have that vote counted accurately that they take such great care. I mean, I have pollworkers on days when the weather is terrible here in Santa Cruz County, they take chainsaws to the trees in their driveway …
GP: … so they can get to the polling site at six a.m. in the dark with no power and no electricity to make sure people can vote.
BF: And I am, look, I am thankful …
GP: They are here. And I just believe, because I believe in my people here in Santa Cruz County, yes, I can guarantee that our voting systems are secure and the votes are counted accurately.
BF: Well, you can guarantee it but you can't prove it. And I, too, have great faith in those folks who are pollworkers and I encourage everyone within earshot to call Santa Cruz tomorrow and volunteer …
GP: Please do, because we need 'em. The more, the better. And …
BF: … because I know Gail needs ya. That said …
GP: You know what? I am transparent. Anyone who has questions, come down.
BF: That said, that said …
GP: My home number is public! Call me at home!
GP: Any time!
BF: That said, there is no reason …
GP: This is the passion we have. And it's not just me. It's my staff, we have student workers, our extra help workers, our pollworkers. I just want to say, give 'em a good shout out …
BF: Please be a pollworker …
GP: … because they are the best in the world here in Santa Cruz County.
BF: Please be a pollworker. They're very much needed. That said, our system is not built on trust. It's built on checks and balances.
GP: Which we have.
BF: You should not have to have faith-based voting …
GP: Which we have. We have the checks and balances.
BF: We don't have the checks and balances, not when you're using a DRE machine, not when you're doing sleepovers …
GP: I believe we do.
BF: … and the greatest registrar …
GP: I believe we do. I disagree with you.
BF: The greatest registrars in the country, like Ion Sancho, will tell you, don't trust me, don't trust any election officials, and with all due respect, Tony Anchundo, next door in Monterey County, said the same thing, that we have to have faith and trust in him. He's now in jail.
GP: No, I believe I earn the trust.
BF: He believed it, too. He was on here …
GP: …based on the way I conduct myself …
PBC: Brad? Gail?
GP: … and the way this election is conducted in this office!
PBC: Brad? I'm sorry …
BF: He was a 13-year …
PBC: Brad and Gail, Brad! Brad! Hold on! I'm out of time. I want to thank you both for a spirited discussion. Gail Pellerin, I really appreciate your openness and willingness to discuss this …
GP: You call me anytime, I'm happy to be on your show.
PBC: Alright, we will definitely do it again.
GP: And Brad, I'm still expecting you to be here February 5, 6:00 a.m.
BF: Give me a call and we'll talk to you on next Friday's show.
GP: OK, bye.
PBC: OK, we'll do that. Thank you, Gail Pellerin. Thank you, Brad Friedman. Oh, and Brad, one final thing?
PBC: Yesterday when you were on with me on the Thom Hartmann show, Coast to Coast …
BF: Yes, I know.
PBC: You gave out a toll-free number for a sex line …
PBC: … and one listener just emailed me and thought it was actually Congressman McDermott who had given that information out, so it's time for our quick apology [plays taped "Excuuuuuuuuuse me!"]
BF: The worst part is Senator Vitter couldn't get through. Peter …
PBC: Right. See ya later. I'm Peter B. Collins. Thank you. [fade to music]