Santa Cruz, California's Election Clerk Comes Back for Another Helping...
By Brad Friedman on 9/21/2007, 3:58pm PT  

[UPDATED POST-SHOW]

Santa Cruz County Clerk, Gail Pellerin joined us on the Peter B. Collins Show again tonight, live, to follow up on last week's interesting and rather spirited (at times, contentious-ish) hour.

The audio archive and full text transcript of last week's hour is posted here if you missed it.

The audio from this week's show, along with the transcript, courtesy of Santa Cruz voter Emily Levy of VelvetRevolution.us.

Since last Friday's show, CA SoS Debra Bowen has pronounced that the voting machine "sleepovers" Pellerin told us she'd planned for her Sequoia voting systems again in 2008 "don't comply with the security requirements" for those voting systems in California.

As well, we've gotten the opportunity to chat a bit via email with Pellerin since then, and are encouraged that we can begin working more together than apart, as is necessary, I think, for Election Integrity advocates and Elections Officials. It's the voting machine companies who are the real villains in this matter, and they've been quite successful at driving an opportunistic wedge between advocates and officials.


UPDATE, AUDIO & TRANSCRIPT: The show went very well. Pellerin stuck around for the entire hour and it was a great discussion with several interesting and newsworthy revelations, along with some very good callers as well. I think we may be getting somewhere. At least I'm hopefully tonight for the good folks of Santa Cruz...

Pellerin has now discussed the sleepovers issue with Bowen and she tells us a meeting is planned with her, several other registrars, and the SoS up in Sacramento soon.

Though she's spent years, in my opinion, buying into the vendor's (in this case Sequoia's) company line, I believe her ears may now be opened to the notion that they haven't been quite as "honorable" with her, as she mentions during this recent interview.

Give it a listen, and decide for yourself. I believe it was a very very enlightening, lively, and informative hour. And I commend Pellerin for coming back and being willing to continue the discussion and face the fire. Not many such folks are willing to do that even once when they know I'll be there, much less come back for a second helping.

While she may not "get" everything just yet, with a long road ahead, she seems very willing to listen and the door is now open for work with Election Integrity advocates (read: citizens) in Santa Cruz. It's just my opinion, of course, but I believe the citizens of Santa Cruz are luckier than most in California, to have someone like Pellerin to work with in overseeing their elections...

-- Santa Cruz, CA, County Clerk Gail Pellerin and Brad Friedman on the Peter B. Collins Show. Again. 9/21/07 (appx 40 mins. w/ commercials now removed):

Complete text-transcript of the hour now follows below...

Peter B. Collins Show
with guests Brad Friedman and Gail Pellerin, Santa Cruz (California) County Clerk
September 21, 2007
www.peterbcollins.com

transcribed by Emily Levy

PETER B. COLLINS: And every week about this time we spend an hour talking about the election processes in this country. Our go-to guy is Brad Friedman. He is the proprietor of BRADBLOG.com, a citizen journalist who, well, I don't know how he got into this and he wonders if he'll ever get out of it. (laughter) Hey, Brad.

BRAD FRIEDMAN: Hey, Peter. How are you, sir?

PBC: I'm doin' fine today, and you?

BF: I'm doin' OK. You're right. I wonder if I'll ever get out. But, you know, gotta do what you gotta do.

PBC: Yes, you do.

BF: It's only democracy at stake, that's all.

PBC: And last week at this time we were joined by Gail Pellerin, the Santa Cruz County Clerk, who handles all the election issues in Santa Cruz County. We had a lively discussion, some back-and-forth, followed up by email exchanges between Brad and Gail Pellerin this week. And, to her credit, she has agreed to return. Gail, welcome back to the program.

GAIL PELLERIN: Hi! Thanks for having me. The elections business certainly does get in your blood.

PBC: Yes, it does. (laughs)

GP: Tell us a little bit just about how you transitioned, you told us last week that you had worked in Sacramento in the Speaker's office. And what was it that caused you to want to run for County Clerk and take on these layers of regulation, the complicated issues. It's certainly gotten more complicated since you took office, what, ten or twelve years ago?

GP: Well, a couple of things. I moved here in 1992 because I married a man here in Santa Cruz County and this is where we decided to make our home and raise our family. So I left Sacramento and I looked for work here. And at the time I think it was Assembly Member Fred Keeley's aide called and said, "Hey, there's this elections manager position open. You'd be perfect for it." I applied. So I started working here in 1993 in that capacity. And then my boss retired in 2004 and then they appointed me to the County Clerk position, and then I ran for that position in 2006 and was elected, unopposed.

PBC: And do you think you'll do this for the rest of your life? Are you a committed election professional now?

GP: It does get in your blood. It's something I think about all the time. And I've also learned a lot about accessibility issues, as far as maintaining and having accessible polling sites. And I can't go shopping into the mall or go to a hotel anymore without seeing violations of ADA and Title 24 that I want to point out to the owners.

PBC: (laughs)

GP: So I learn something new every day. And that's what's so intriguing about this work. And it's important, it's a very important job. I feel very passionate about it.

PBC: Yeah, well, as I mentioned we had a great discussion last week. We identified some issues that we agree on and a few that we might have differences on. And, again, I just want to commend you, Gail, because I think it's very important to openly discuss these matters and to have transparency as much as possible. One of the reasons that people are suspicious about the integrity of our elections is that in many jurisdictions we have some pretty high-handed election officials and there are some who have not been forthcoming and transparent. And I'll pick a real safe example like Ken Blackwell, in Ohio. (laughs)

GP: OK.

PBC: And so there are many people who really want to see the process be as clean and transparent as possible and that's where I think the struggle is underway right now.

GP: And I agree with you 100%. I mean, whenever we get phone calls or questions, we invite people to come in. And we take time to give 'em a tour, go over our policies and procedures, see our security in place, and I think some of them feel better after that. Some of them give us some great suggestions which we're able to implement, and many we recruit as poll workers. So that's our strategy and I believe it's very important to make sure that all of our processes and procedures are open to the public. They can come down anytime.

PBC: OK. Brad, do you want to pick up there and go ahead and let's have a conversation!

BF: Yeah, I will, actually. And I also want to thank Gail for comin' back and, and facin' the fire, so to speak.

GP: I've got your cell phone now.

BF: Yes you do. Call it any time.

GP: (laughs)

BF: I've been taking to a lot of county officials lately. And I concur, we've got to come together. It's not, this wedge that's been driven between the election integrity activists and the elections officials I think is unfortunate and I think it's a by-product of a very specific campaign, frankly, by the election, by the voting machine companies. But last week I was accused of asking some loaded questions when I don't think I had, so I'll go ahead and ask a loaded question now.

PBC: (laughs)

GP: OK. Did I accuse you of that?

BF: You did, actually.

GP: I did? I thought it was a …

PBC: No, actually …

GP: I said it was a loaded question? I'm sorry.

PBC: You said that to me and then I asked Brad to ask the next loaded question.

GP: OK. Alright. Well, shoot.

BF: And I failed to. So let me load one up now.

GP: OK, go.

BF: You, actually you mentioned just now that you can't go to the mall without seeing a violation of the ADA. I'm gonna suggest you can't go to work without seeing a violation of the ADA at this point, the American[s] with Disabilities Act, since Debra Bowen has found the very machines that you guys use out there (you're certainly not alone and it's certainly not your fault, but) the touch-screen Sequoia DRE machines that you use are found to be in violation of that ADA …

GP: You know what? We had actually noticed that the leg configuration did not meet ADA. So we have special legs that were developed for our touch-screens that do meet ADA and we had our access compliance specialist try out the machine and test the machine. I don't want to say it's perfect. There is certainly no perfect election system out there but I believe that we came very close to making it as accessible as possible.

BF: Well, I congratulate you on that. And I'll go ahead and jump, then, to the next step where we sort of left off a couple of points last week. Concerning the sleepovers, and we've had some news since last week that Debra Bowen has said, she previously said that these voting machine sleepovers where they send the machines home with poll workers for days and weeks prior to the election, although I understand you guys only do it, you only have a one-night stand.

PBC: (laughs)

GP: You're quoting someone there.

BF: That's what I hear. And, with that said, she has come out, previously she said that she felt that sleepovers were illegal and she answered a question I asked her quite directly the other day by saying that sleepovers do not comply with the new security requirements. And so I guess the question is, "Well, now what?"

GP: Right.

BF: What's the plan? What's your outlook for dealing with that pretty clear statement from her?

GP: Right. And, you know, and I think that it's great that we're talking about this on radio with listeners listening in and hearing what the answers are, but I found, I also followed up with Secretary of State Bowen and said, "OK, so make it real clear to me. What am I supposed to do and how do I deploy this equipment?" And she seemed to indicate that we do need to find a practical mechanism to securely deploy election equipment. And she did not completely rule out the possibility that with more stringent security requirement on the touch-screens, to have some kind of tamper-evident bag, and then to set up some security procedures for a poll-worker to have in their household that she would, that she is open to this discussion. And so, with that, we sort of took it another step and said there's many issues that we need clarified on the conditions and that we really needed to have a face-to-face meeting. And I'm happy to report that elections officials are on board, the Secretary of State's office is on board and those meetings will take place and we're going to get some really good, helpful, concrete information so we can put together some workable procedures to meet all these conditions.

BF: Also very good news. I'm glad to hear that things seem to be moving in the right direction. I'll mention that you and I had spoken via email where I suggested one, well, a couple of possible solutions, which would be to encourage Secretary of State Bowen to take a fresh look at some of the paper-based system for disability voters out there like Equalivote and VotePAD and so forth, since her predecessor, Bruce McPherson, had really torpedoed them. That's one area that I hope you'll encourage her to look at when she, when you meet with her. Another one I might suggest, by the way, is that she has put the onus on the voting machine companies to pay for the various new procedures that will have to be done to make up for their crappy voting machines. One of them might then be that they pay for shipping these things every morning to the polling places. That's certainly one place where I think they could cough up some dough. And, similarly, I saw you commented in an editorial somewhere, I can't recall where it was now …

GP: Are you Googling me?"

PBC: (laughs)

BF: Well, you know I will, Gail. But the, you had mentioned that it would take several weeks to count the ballots or to do the auditing, I can't recall if it was to do the auditing or to count the 100% paper trails that you're now required to do. I would add that the voting machine companies are charged with having to pay for this stuff …

GP: Right.

BF: … and there's no reason you can't hire a few more counting groups to do this counting faster, as far as I can tell, as opposed to …

GP: I have no doubt we can meet any state, federal requirement given the time, the people and the money. And we're happy to do so. I mean that is exactly what we want to be able to do. And I was just figuring that it took us, because we did a 10% manual count on our touch-screens, and we do have a system, I want to remind voters in Santa Cruz County, the model that we implemented, is the model the Secretary of State endorsed, which is primarily paper at the polls with the one touch-screen unit. But we went ahead and did, we did 100% of our check in June because we just had a partial deployment of the touch-screens, so we had, when we had full deployment in November we did a 10% random manual recount of the touch-screens and with these conditions we'll be doing 100%. And it just means, it took us about three days to do 10% with two four-person boards. And we had some observers coming in and watching us and they felt very confident in the procedure we set up, on how we did that, and we'll do it again. And we'll just multiply it, you know, and make it happen.

BF: I noticed in, it looks like it was the GT weekly, you said that the mandate to count 100% "will adversely impact our ability to certify the election within 28 days, so the law must be changed to allow counties sufficient time to count the 100% audit." Why would you need to change the law? Why would you not be able to count it within 28 days when, particularly since Sequoia is supposed to pay for this?

GP: Well, it's not, I mean, it may seem simple enough to do a manual count, but I'll tell ya, you give me 12 people to do a manual count and I'll find three, maybe five, who are really good at it. It's very tedious, detailed work.

BF: Well, we will …

GP: And …

BF: Yeah.

GP: And we also don't have a very large facility here. So we're dealing with space and people and supervision. I don't have a lot of full-time staff to supervise. And the canvass is a lot more than just the touch-screen. We also do complete audit of the polling sites so we account for every single piece of paper that was sent out to that polling site, as far as ballots are concerned, whether they've been un-, if they've got 500 ballots checked out to them, and 250 voters, we account for 250 unused ballots and 250 voted ballots. And then we check and we recheck the ballots, we run those through the machines once, we run 'em through twice. We double-check. We remake ballots. We have overseas ballots. We do a 1% manual random audit of the paper. And that's going to be increased as well with these conditions. So when I look at the conditions and I look at my facility and I know the people I have, it's going to take me longer than 28 days.

PBC: We're going to take a break and return with Gail Pellerin, County Clerk in Santa Cruz County, Brad Friedman from BRADBLOG.com. You got a question or a comment, we've got room for it. Toll-free, (888) 5-PETER-B. (888) 573-8372. It's 19 after the hour on the Peter B. Collins Show. [break]

We continue on the Peter B. Collins Show. I'm your humble host, Peter B. Lines are open if you'd like to talk with us about election issues, (888) 5-PETER-B. That's our toll-free number. (888) 573-8372. Again, today we're live in Sacramento, filling in for Christine Craft on 1240, Talk City, KSAC. And of course this breaks one of the big rules in radio but I've never been indicted and nobody can punish me. But Christine will be moonlighting tonight, late night, on KGO radio in San Francisco. And Brad Friedman is going to guest with her at the drive-time hour of two a.m.

BF: Two a.m. to three a.m., but don't tell the rabbi.

PBC: Oh, that's right. You'll have to atone for that later, Brad.

BF: I will, indeed.

GP: Are you fasting, too?

BF: Well, it depends if you're gonna tell the rabbi.

GP: OK, I won't.

PBC: (laughter) We're talking with Gail Pellerin and Brad, offline during the break Gail agreed to stay with us through the hour if necessary. We had it scheduled for half an hour but clearly we've got a lot to talk about. And one of the things I'd like to raise, Gail, in the preceding segment you talked about the challenge of hand-counting paper ballots and meeting the current statutory deadline to certify an election of 28 days. That's an important issue. The other thing that occurs to me, we've had a lot of controversy in the San Francisco Chronicle this week because the San Francisco election chief is basically saying that he's caught between Debra Bowen and a separate voting machine than the one you work with, his is ES&S, but he's saying it's going to take three weeks to count the ballots. And when I hear that I say, well, so what? I believe that we should take as long as necessary to get a real accurate count of an election and we've seen even with contentious contested elections like presidential races over the last few years, and in particular 2000, that we can wait. And the, the society, the democracy does not crumble because we don't have the results on television the night of the election. What's your sense of the demands on accurate information in a timely manner?

GP: Sure. Well, I ask people, do you want it done fast or do you want it done accurately? And I want it done accurately, so I take time. And, and I think what's happening in the San Francisco case, and again I've told you earlier I can really speak about Santa Cruz County, it's difficult to speak about other counties, but they are actually not even going to have their full results in their polling sites because they're going to have to run them through machines, that's what I read in the paper, and they're going to be updating daily. In our county we certainly do produce the election-night results with the absentee, early absentees come in first, followed by the polls, and we stay here 'til whatever it takes, you know, one, two, three in the morning to get that completed, and then we're back the next morning starting our canvass. And the canvass is the audit, and that is really where everything gets figured out, everything gets reconciled, every piece of paper gets audited, all the supplies that came back from the polling site, we break those down, we make sure we've accounted for every absentee ballot that may have been turned in at the polls, all those provisional ballots. So California was the leader in provisional voting, whereas if a voter cannot be, if their eligibility cannot be determined when they come into that precinct on election day because their name's not on their index, they can still vote provisionally. And it goes in a pink envelope and then that's given extra care, time, consideration, research to make sure that that voter's eligible before we can count it. And so all, the canvass procedure is quite comprehensive and it's very detailed work and it's very time-consuming. And we take our time. We don't rush it. I don't do updates in this county because I think it just adds to the drama, you know, of every day or every week the vote results changing back and forth, so …

PBC: Right.

GP: … we go through and we make sure all of our i's are dotted and t's crossed and inspect and validate and research everything before we then count all the ballots. And it's my job, then, to certify that election, as the county clerk, that I need to sign the statement of the result and declare that the final results are full, true and correct. And I'm not going to do that unless I believe that's the case.

PBC: And just about 30 seconds before our next break, then we'll have a lot of time to talk. The 28-day issue, do you need a longer period of time before you actually certify?

GP: Well, you know, we were up against it this last time, in November '06. We were right at almost the day before, I think, that time to certify because of the new requirem-, I mean because of the requirements we had on ourself. We also had a lot more absentees turned in, late, a lot more provisional voting, and then we did the 10% audit. So I see with these changes, now again, I've never done an election with all these conditions and requirements, but lookin' at it, I'm thinkin' it's going to take me more time.

PBC: Alright, we'll continue with Gail Pellerin and Brad Friedman. Your calls are welcome at (888) 5-Peter-B. [break]

Thirty-three after the hour. We continue on the Peter B. Collins Show. Thanks for dialing us up or clicking our way. We continue with Brad Friedman with BRADBLOG.com, talking about election issues. And with us, the Clerk of Santa Cruz County, California, Gail Pellerin. Got a couple of callers on the line. Stay there, we'll get to you here shortly. Brad, you're up next.

BF: Alright, I ran out of time last time so I'll try to fly through a bunch of quick questions.

PBC: Oh, we got 15 minutes 'til the next break, or something like that.

BF: OK, good. Well, then, let me start out with, well, just to close the loop on the last discussion there concerning the time that it takes to meet the new requirements, and the hand-counting that must be done, and so forth, both in Santa Cruz and in San Francisco, you know, I've heard folks complain about these new requirements and I just want to underscore, it seems pretty clear to me from the Secretary's new requirement that the onus really is on the voting machine companies to pay for this extra effort. And if you had two crews, Gail, out there in Santa Cruz to count in the past and now you need to count more ballots, well, there's, as you know, some great election integrity folks out there in Santa Cruz that I'm sure will help you come up with more teams and, if needed, a larger facility to do the counting in. And as far as I can tell, it's the voting machine companies, in this case Sequoia, up in San Francisco it'd be ES&S, but those are the folks who need to cover the extra costs for this. And I'm wondering, are you willing to hold Sequoia accountable to cough up the money so that you guys can come in? I'm not in any rush, either, for the results. I'd rather have them be accurate, but obviously they need to come in before the 28-day time limit for final certification.

GP: And I think moving to another facility, too, we'd have to look at the security issues there as well. And whether we run single shifts or double shifts, you know, so I mean every single year we desperately seek poll workers. And I want to put a call out to people listening that if you are available any of the days in 2008, February 5, June 3, November 4, we need you. We need you out there helping out in the polls. And then on the back end, when we're doing the canvass, it does require a level of training and expertise and security and supervision and we'll look at whatever we can do. I mean, it is certainly my goal to meet that certification deadline of 28 days and we work extra hours, we work weekends, we do what we can, but looking at these procedures and these conditions, I see it taking more time.

BF: Well, Sequoia …

GP: And I see in those conditions that I'm to bill the vendor for the audit procedures and sure, I'll bill the vendor, but that doesn't solve my immediate situation of having to pay the staff people. I mean, if I'm hiring folks I can't say, "You'll get paid when Sequoia pays me." So initially everything comes out of the County's coffers first.

PBC: Now let me jump in here because I'm curious what the legal basis is. I certainly have no problem billing the vendors, the voting machine companies, for these unexpected costs, but what's the legal basis for forcing them to do so?

BF: Well, according to the Secretary of State, they misrepresented their product. Sequoia was particularly bad about this, and made certain promises that their equipment does this or that. And apparently they just out-and-out lied. So she's holding the companies responsible for the extra measures that counties now have to go through in order to carry out an election. And I think that's appropriate and I think it's about time someone held these companies accountable for the bind that they have put the officials in. Bowen didn't do it. It was the companies. And somebody needs to hold these guys accountable.

PBC: And Gail, do you have any confidence that Sequoia will cut you a check for the overruns, the unbudgeted costs that …

GP: Well, I mean certainly in the past when printing errors have been made that were no fault of ours, Sequoia has paid for those, reimbursed the county. I think it's an honorable company that we've had years of experience working with. They have been also working with the Secretary of State's office in meeting all the requirements set up in the conditions. They were the first company that I believe gave the source code and the equipment and everything to get going with the Top-To-Bottom Review. They're on board. They have not abandoned California. And certainly …

BF: Gail …

GP: … that could be an option, but at this point they have not. Neither has Hart or Diebold, they are all complying, and I think the main thing is we need to move forward together …

BF: Gail?

GP: …This is something that all the parties involved need to work on. I'm not here to bash the vendors or bash other county elections offices or bash Secretary of State's office. I mean we are a team that needs to work together to make sure that we have successful elections in California.

BF: Gail, did that, did company representatives when you bought that equipment tell you that their voting systems were secure?

GP: There is information in the contract as far as security. You know, I certainly think that they themselves have come forward with a new generation of software and equipment that's going through federal qualification. I mean, the bottom line is there's certainly, there's lots of changes in elections. There's nothing permanent in any election.

BF: Hang on, though. Let me follow that up …

GP: And there's no perfect election. And I think after each and every election we conduct, we get information from our voters, our poll workers, our staff, certainly now with Secretary of State Bowen's information she's found with the Top-To-Bottom Review, the Brennan Center report, the Elections Assistance Commission, U.C. Berkeley's Election Administration Research Center, we're learning things every days.

BF: That's right …

GP: And by all means we want to improve it, we want to make it better.

BF: But let me ask. Did they tell you, did they represent to you that these voting systems were secure?

GP: You know, I'd have to go back and look at exactly what verbiage is in their contract …

BF: Alright, let me ask …

GP: … and there is no organization or group that says that this system was HAVA-compliant. There was no stamp of HAVA compliance. You know, this was, unfortunately in the very beginning with the HAVA rule that came down in 2002, the federal mandate, we were stunned that there was such a short time period for implementation. I argued all along, we need to extend HAVA. This is not sufficient time …

BF: Well, i…

GP: … to implement these far-reaching changes in elections. Elections are very fragile. …

BF: If you want me to argue in favor of …

GP: And it's very difficult to make sweeping changes without a lot of time. When we moved from a hand-count system in the sixties to an electronic machine count, California did it over 16 years.

BF: Gail, if you want me to argue in favor of HAVA, I'm certainly not going to do that. But I'm asking these questions for a specific reason. Did they tell you that their systems complied with the 2002 Voting Systems standards?

GP: Well, again, I, I really, you know, conversations I've had with the vendor and information in our contract, you're welcome to read the contract. It's on our website. And …

BF: Well, let me put it that way. Did the cont- …

GP: And, and they are continually trying to improve their products.

BF: If the contracts told you that these systems were secure, and if the contracts said that they met the 2002 Federal Voting Systems Standards, then they lied. And when you say they're an honorable company, I have found them to be anything but. And the, like I say, the companies have caused the bulk of the problem here …

GP: Yeah.

BF: … and if they lied to you …

GP: And again, I don't want to argue with that. I mean, there are individuals in secu-, in Sequoia, that have been true to their word. When mistakes have occurred and it was their fault, they took the blame, they paid the bill.

BF: I'm sure there are. But I would recommend …

GP: And so, and so maybe I misspoke by saying a honorable company. But the people I work with in Sequoia have been true to their word and honest. Now …

BF: I'm sure that there are some very nice people …

GP: it's never, I mean, certainly, working in contract negotiations there were some very unpleasant moments. Did I want to buy a new voting system back in 2005? No. I really liked the voting system we had. But I felt that the federal mandate required us to move forward with a system that provided second chance voting at the polls, accessible and verifiable voting for persons with disabilities, and I felt that that was where we had hadda move, which was to move forward with this new voting system.

BF: And I understand that. And I'm not questioning your judgment in doing that, I'm questioning, nor am I questioning the people that you feel are very nice people that might work at Sequoia, but the company has misrepresented their product. The reason that this country …

GP: And I think that's just an issue between us and …

BF: … is in the mess that is in …

GP: … my County counsel and Sequoia.

BF: Let me finish.

GP: I'm not an attorney …

BF: Gail?

GP: …and I'm not going gonna debate those on the radio.

BF: No, and I understand that. But I'm trying to point out to you that if they, you hold more information than anybody else about what the Sequoia representatives told you when they sold you this product at considerable taxpayer expense, and the fact that we're in trouble now, the fact that we're talking about not even being able to get things counted by the final certification deadline, I put squarely at the feet of Sequoia in this case, and I believe there's more than enough evidence to hold them accountable legally and someone in America has got to begin doing that, because the counties are paying more and more money for this stuff and I'm wondering if that's what led you, and I'll give you a graceful out here, hopefully …

GP: (gasp/laugh)

BF: … but I'm wondering if that's what led to …

GP: Is that because we're on the eve of Yom Kippur?

PBC: (laughs)

BF: That's right, so I hope you'll forgive me …

GP: OK (laughs)

BF: … but I want to mention that, give you the opportunity now, if you would like, you mentioned at the Secretary of State Bowen's public hearing on her Top-To-Bottom Review, and I'm quoting directly, you said, "I can guarantee that every eligible vote is counted accurately." Now, I know you can't guarantee that and I'm wondering if you would like to take this opportunity to retract that statement.

GP: Well, I mean, as we chatted on email, I understand how guaranteeing something like, is, you can't guarantee anything. We can't guarantee our cars are safe or that, you know, the sun will come out tomorrow. But the reality is, at the end of the day, it is my job to count votes. And I believe the systems and processes we have in place are extremely well-done. We have a great crew of people. We have a good audit procedure both on the paper side and the electronic side. These conditions that we're going to be implementing will even further provide more verifiable accuracy that this system is counting the votes accurately. And I have to sign at the end of the day, I need to sign a statement of vote, certifying that the results are full, true and correct.

BF: And so can you promise that anybody, any voter, any single vote that is voted on a DRE touch-screen voting machine is counted accurately?

GP: Well, you know, I just want to encourage voters to look at that voter-verified paper audit trail. Because we're going to be counting off of that. So if that is your vote on that printed record, that's what we're counting off of. …

BF: Well, I think …

GP: And I believe that if the voter says, "That's my vote," we're going to count it the way it's written on that voter-verified paper audit trail.

BF: Well, and you know, I believe last week that we discussed how the paper trails can be counted 100% and still be gamed. And if we didn't, I'll be happy to talk to you about that offline …

GP: Yeah, and Brad, I still, I invite you. I asked you to be a poll worker. I know you're busy that day. But why don't you just take a trip down to Santa Cruz? Come on down, I'll buy you lunch, I'll show you what we've got. And I want to hear your ideas. It's one thing to say, "This doesn't work," but show me how it can work, then. Or …

PBC: Alright.

GP: … good concrete suggestions on how to improve.

PBC: And I will, I will …

GP: That's what we're all about. We want people to see how we do it. If you've got a better idea, let me hear it.

PBC: I'll buy you both an ice cream at Marianne's.

GP: Oh, isn't that the best?

PBC: One of my favorite places in Santa Cruz.

GP: Yeah.

PBC: Let's take some phone calls. Connie in Monterey, thanks for holding. You're on the air with Brad Friedman and Gail Pellerin.

Connie: I'm so honored to talk to you, Peter. I've never talked to you before. Just recently have I found KRXA. I learn more from you than I do from listening to public tel-, public radio for 20 years.

PBC: Wow. That's very kind. I appreciate it. Connie, get to your question, please.

Connie: What I want to know is, I used to be able to vote in secret when I went down here to my place in Seaside. We used to have little curtains and all that. Now, when I go in there to vote, everybody can see what I do. And I thought that we were guaranteed in the Constitution a secret vote.

PBC: Alright, we have a secret ballot. Gail, do the state election laws require that you vote in secret? In other words, does there have to be a curtain behind you?

GP: Well, no, it doesn't set up that. And it's really how you instruct your poll workers to set up your polling site. Certainly now, well, I can tell you what happens in our county. We have voting booths that are, that have side panels and people go into that voting booth and put the paper on the table and vote their ballot. If it's a touch-screen then we'll position it so that they are comfortable that they're voting in secret. If the machine needs to be turned around, we'll turn it around and do whatever the voter feels comfortable with. But none of them do come with screens. In know, in fact, I don't think I've seen those in California in a long time.

Connie: But my husband and I looked it up. It says "secret."

GP: Voting a secret ballot is your constitutional right. And we believe, the way we set up our polling site grants that and provides that. We provide secrecy sleeves for the ballot so once it's voted and you're transporting it back to be counted that it's in a secrecy sleeve that nobody can see how you vote, so …

Connie: But while I'm voting …

GP: I really think you need to talk to your, to Linda Tulett in Monterey, and share with her your concerns and let her know and she'll make it better for you because she's committed to this as well.

Connie: Well, if it's on that screen, everybody can see it.

GP: I think it's a matter of positioning the machine so it would be private. …

PBC: And Connie?

GP: …I think there's a way to fix that and I encourage you to call your local registrar with that concern.

PBC: Connie, the next time you vote you will have a choice. You do not have to use a touch-screen voting machine, and if you choose not to you should be able to operate your, or mark your ballot in a manner that couldn't be observed by other people.

Connie: Just ask for paper, huh?

BF: Thanks, Connie. Let me also add, anybody who does have to vote on touch-screens, Sequoia touch-screens, you might want to come by BRADBLOG.com, do a search for the word "yellow button," and you'll find out why there are no curtains around those Sequoia touch-screen voting machines.

PBC: Alright, we gotta run to a break. Connie, thanks for your love and the valentine. We'll continue in a moment with Brad Friedman and Gail Pellerin. Got room for another call or two, (888) 5-Peter-B is our number, (888) 573-8372. [break]

And The Peter B. Collins Show rolls on. We're talking about election process and election integrity with Brad Friedman from BRADBLOG.com and Gail Pellerin, the Santa Cruz County Clerk in charge of elections in Santa Cruz County, California. Got a loaded switchboard, we won't have time for all your calls, but let's squeeze in at least one more. Marianne, in Monterey, thanks for your call. You're on the air.

Marianne: Hi, and thank you, Peter and Brad for what you're doing. Gail, you need to listen to these men. I was upset last week when you were on and I'm upset again today. You do not listen to what they're asking you. Our vote, these men are speaking for millions of us. Without our vote, we have, we do not have an America. And instead of talking about ice cream and come on down I'll buy you an ice cream …

PBC: I, I, I mentioned the ice cream, Marianne.

Marianne: Whatever.

PBC: Let's be fair.

Marianne: This frivolous stuff, OK? You need to listen. This man just got through telling you these are not honorable people. And yet you're saying their honorable. Honorable people don't like. Not, especially about something so serious. And he doesn't have to go down there, we're right here, right now. And he's asking you some very serious questions and you are not listening. Every time it comes up to the thing, you distract and change the subject. I'd also like to know, is there a way to videotape these proceedings, from A to Z? But I also am very concerned about the criminal reputation that this company has.

PBC: Alright, Marianne. Thank you very much. Let's get a response from Gail. Go ahead, Gail.

GP: Yeah, thanks, Marianne. And I'll do better to listen. I think that's an important skill. I try to teach my children to listen, and I've learned a lot from talking to Brad, and talking to Peter, and talking to my voters, and talking to my poll workers, and that's what I want to hear. I want to hear what I can do, though, that's practical. And right now, I've got a voting system that, that does work. I mean I have paper ballots and they count very well. I needa have an accessible voting unit and if the touch-screen's not going to be it, then I need something certified that I can implement and deploy. So I'm very open and I'm sorry that I came across that I was not listening. That's not my intent.

PBC: Alright, Brad, you got a next question?

BF: Yeah, well, actually I want to get in one question before we run out of time, Gail. Do you use, do you create your own paper ballots for the op-scan system there, for the Sequoia op-scan?

GP: We are not, we don't print out own paper ballots, no. We would like to.

BF: But do you, do you li-, create them, scan them into the, into the data base and so forth so that they can then, so the op-scanners can be set up?

GP: You mean do we pre-mark them?

BF: Well, like …

GP: For logic and accuracy testing?

BF: No, it's not a trick question. I'm trying to figure out, I've had some information about how these paper op-scan ballots are made with the Sequoia system. And my understanding is that you sort of, you take the ballot and you scan them in so that they can be added to the database of the scanner. Is this ringing any particular bells, you guys do this in Santa Cruz?

GP: Well, I'm not, I'm sorry if I'm not following. But the ballots, are you talking after they're voted, are they scanned?

BF: No, no. When you're setting up the ballot definition files for the optical scan system.

GP: Got you. OK. OK?

BF: Do you guys do that work or does Sequoia do that?

GP: We do. We have attended trainings and we do all of our own ballot layout in house.

BF: Is there a tool, a software tool, that you guys use, something called The Bridge, to help you do that?

GP: You know, I've only done it once and I can't remember the exact term for it. I'm sorry.

BF: There is some sort of software, though, that helps you …

GP: There is a software program that we have, but then we have to flag all the contests and certify all the qualified candidates and then we have to apply the random alpha and then the different ballot typing, and then we produce ballots and .pdf files that I then print and then proof each one by ballot type.

BF: Understood, but so there's a piece of software that helps you do that, to scan them into Access or whatever it is. Does that sound right?

GP: Yeah, I'm sorry, I don't have all the terms, I just, like I said, I went through it once and had gone through the training and will be doing it again. But yeah, there is a software program but I don't remember the exact term for it.

BF: I got ya. Well, we can pick that up later. I have some concerns that that piece of software may not be certified and it should be, so that's why I was curious about that.

GP: Uh-huh.

BF: I'll leave that go for now.

GP: OK, I'll check into that, definitely. And I'm sorry I don't have the exact …

PBC: Alright, we're joined by Chris in Salinas. Chris, welcome. You're on the air.

Chris: Yes, I just, you know, listening to the answer about the VPAT being the, telling us that we got our vote counted correctly, well the VPAT is not the voter record. So I would like Gail to actually show me my vote after I cast it on the machine. And you can't do that. And even on the, the scanning tab-, those are tabulators, so our ballot is scanned and then it's thrown into a pile, and the scanner tabulates the vote. But our ballot's the vote of record but the scanner is tabulating the vote. So how can you show, how can you tell me that my vote is being counted as cast when you can't show it to me?

PBC: Alright, that's the question. We got about 30 seconds for an answer, Gail.

GP: OK, well, again, we do the audit and we'll do a 1% manual audit and we'll count off of the VPAT, and that's the paper record. So, and then we check and double-check and make sure it's correct.

Chris: One percent?

GP: Well, 1% of all the contests. In some areas, it actually becomes a greater percentage because every single contest gets double-counted. And then we also inspect the ballots and we re-run them again through our 400-Cs and verify results.

PBC: Chris, I'd love to do more. I gotta stop because of the clock. Thanks for your call.

Chris: Thanks a lot.

PBC: Gail Pellerin, thank you for joining us. I appreciate your openness and …

GP: Thank you.

PBC: … willing to dialogue. We'll continue this and …

GP: And on this eve of Yom Kippur I want to wish Brad a easy fast and a good hear.

PBC: Alright, thank you Gail Pellerin, thank you Brad Friedman.

BF: Thanks. Back at ya. And I hope folks will participate with Gail out there to help her have the best elections possible.

GP: That's what we want to have. Thank you.

PBC: Thank you both. And thanks for listening to this edition of the Peter B. Collins Show. We'll be back at ya, same time, same station, sometime real soon. [fade to music]