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April 13, 2007

San Diego County recently hired Cuyahoga CountyOhio’s disgraced elections official,Michael Vu, who resigned under a storm of controversy stemming from the rigged recount in 2004 and a 2006 scientific study condemning Cuyahoga’s elections.  Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner recently fired the entire Board of Elections. 

“Every Electoral Management Body should be certain that it can ensure the legitimacy and credibility of the processes for which it is responsible.” (Electoral Management Design Handbook, p.22) 

If integrity is a best management practice, no electoral management body should hire someone whose employees are being imprisoned for rigging the 2004 recount in Ohio – in the most populous county in the state. Nor should it hire someone who oversaw an election that lost hundreds of memory cards and voting machines.   

Since you probably won’t read about these matters in corporate-controlled media, here’s more background to the cry against Vu. 

Steve Hertzberg of Election Science Institute (ESI) reported serious problems with Cuyahoga’s May 2006 primary to Cuyahoga County Commissioners:

“I believe it is important to say directly to you … that the election system, in its entirety, exhibits shortcomings with extremely serious consequences, especially in the event of a close election. These shortcomings merit your urgent attention.”  (Emphasis in original) 

One table in the ESI report on Cuyahoga County’s May 06 primary election reports what went missing (p.110) during Michael Vu’s watch:   

  • 13 VVPAT Summaries (voter verifiable paper audit trails)
  • 86 VVPAT Cartridges
  • 29 DREs (touch screen voting machines; one was later found)
  • 24 DRE Election Archives (the archives displayed no data)
  •    3 DRE memory cards. 

The scary part of this investigation is that ESI only studied 10% of Cuyahoga’s 1434 precincts.  Since these precincts were randomly selected, statisticians advise we can extrapolate for the entire county. When multiplying these losses by 10, then Cuyahoga most likely lost  280 voting machines and  890 memory cards and cartridges. 

This puts any Diebold AccuVote TSx machine at risk, since less than a minute is needed to switch out memory cards. (Feldman, et al. 2006)  When studying security issues with electronic voting systems, few experts considered the vulnerabilities exposed should any voting machines go missing, but they are not hard for anyone to imagine.   

Election law specialist, Paul Lehto, writes, “Given that presidential elections … involve the question of control of trillions of federal dollars, the world’s sole military superpower, and the world’s richest country … I am unable to blind myself to the fact that there could hardly be any higher material incentive to cheat in elections than this.” 

In the Electoral Management Design Handbook, Brigalia Bam (Chairperson, Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa and Member of the Board of Directors of IDEA) asserts that: “Election managers currently face the formidable challenge of ensuring that stakeholders have trust in the electoral process and perceive electoral administrations as credible institutions.”   

Given Cuyahoga’s rigged Recount in 2004 in the swing state that awarded previously unelected Bush with another stolen election, and the 2006 ESI study of Cuyahoga, voters continue to have no basis for confidence in reported election results. 

Election integrity demands Vu’s immediate replacement. 

While we’re at it, given that Cuyahoga is probably not the exception but rather the rule, let’s reject Holt’s ill-conceived H.R. 811, and run hand-counted paper ballot systems.  HCPBs are the easiest to secure and the least expensive. Stop HR 811 here: http://www.electiondefensealliance.org/Halt811 

Sources and Further Reading

Ananda, Rady. “Seize the Polls,” April 6, 2007 

— “Electronic Voting & Fair Vote Counts: 15 Expert Reports, Jan 18, 2007

EMD – Electoral Management Design Handbook, by Alan Wall, et al. Stockholm, Sweden: International Institute of Democracy and Electoral Assistance, 2006. 392 p. (quote from Forward) http://www.idea.int Review of this book is posted at http://tinyurl.com/2cp6sb 

ESI – Election Science Institute, “DRE Analysis for May 2006 Primary Cuyahoga County, Ohio,” 2006. See  or see http://www.electionscience.org and click on Cuyahoga County Report tab. 

Feldman, Ariel J., J.A. Halderman, and E.W. Felten, “Security Analysis of the Diebold AccuVote-TS Voting Machine,” Center for Information Technology Policy and Dept. of Computer Science, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University, 2006.http://itpolicy.princeton.edu/voting   

Paul Lehto, “Cuyahoga County Ohio Elections Official Condones Felony Presidential Recount Rigging,”April 13, 2007 

Nancy Tobi, “What’s Wrong with the New Holt Bill (HR 811)?” March 4, 2007