Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
David Safier commented on this Arizona Daily Star report earlier, Vote-count auditing reforms urged on county supervisors. The article refers to Pima County Election Integrity Commission commissioner Mickey Duniho, who has prepared the Memo below for the Pima County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday at 9:00 a.m. David focused on the mendacity of Pima County Elections Director Brad Nelson, but Nelson is protected by his boss, Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry, whose mendacity is legendary in Tucson.Memo
November 19, 2012
To: The Pima County Board of Supervisors
From: Michael A. Duniho, Member of Pima County Election Integrity Commission
Subject: Corrections of Factual Errors in Mr. Huckelberry’s November 20 (sic) Memo on the Election Integrity Commission’s Recommendation Concerning the Sorting of Early Ballots for Audit
The attached three pages contain a detailed discussion of factual errors, errors of omission, and distortions of fact contained in Mr. Huckelberry’s memorandum which was sent to you on Friday, November 16, 2012. The memo recommended against your adopting your Election Integrity Commission’s unanimous recommendation that you order the sorting of early ballots by precinct for a hand count audit of a few precincts to demonstrate to the public that computerized vote counting in Pima County was honestly done.
It is unfortunate that Mr. Huckelberry’s memo contained so many errors that I cannot address them all in a three minute speech at your public hearing tomorrow. I hope that you will take the time to review these corrections before tomorrow’s meeting. I plan to be available to respond to any of your questions at tomorrow’s meeting.
Thank you for your interest in election integrity.
Michael A. Duniho
County Board of Supervisors Comment for 11-20-2012
It is troublesome that Mr. Huckelberry feels it necessary to resort to factual errors, errors of omission, and distortions of fact to defend an indefensible position. The state Election Procedures Manual requires that counties sort early ballots by precinct or legislative district to do a hand count audit; Pima County has chosen not to comply with that requirement. Pima County’s policy is also contrary to your Election Integrity Commission’s October 26 recommendation that you require your election department to sort early ballots by precinct and perform a precinct-level hand count audit to confirm the integrity of the machine count.
Mr. Huckelberry says there is not enough time remaining to comply with the Election Integrity Commission proposal, but it was Mr. Huckelberry who delayed your consideration of the proposal from last week’s meeting on specious grounds and without any consultation with your Election Integrity Commission, a Commission which serves you but not Mr. Huckelberry. Mr. Huckelberry would have you believe that sorting the early ballots is an impossible task but it is not. I have provided you with a paper detailing the factual errors, errors of omission, and factual distortions in Mr. Huckelberry’s memo, because going over each of them in a 3-minute talk would be impossible.
In Humboldt County, California, the Elections Director chose to audit all the machine-counted ballots in every race, using a graphical scanning system employing open-source software (similar to the recommendation by your Election Integrity Commission). Public confidence in Humboldt County elections has soared, and in 2011 the United States Election Assistance Commission awarded Humboldt County a $25,000 grant to further develop their election auditing software. This system could be used in Pima County to improve transparency.
The King County, Washington, Election Director purchased two Pitney Bowes high-speed sorting machines that not only sort ballots but also weigh them to make sure each envelope has one and only one ballot; they also slit the envelopes for removal of the ballots, and they also digitally photograph the voter signatures and feed them directly to computers for signature checkers to use without having to handle paper. The Elections Director told me that they have saved more than the cost of the sorting machines by improving the efficiency of their operation, and they have eliminated lost ballots in their system. Pitney Bowes told me that these sorting machines cost a small fraction of the amount touted by Mr. Huckelberry.
The Board of Supervisors of Pima County has a critical decision to make: do you want to demonstrate to the voting public that there is nothing to hide in Pima County’s vote counting system through your support for election integrity as recommended by a unanimous vote of your Election Integrity Commission; or do you want the voting public to conclude that there is something to hide in Pima County’s vote counting system through your support for a continuing policy of unverified black box vote counting in Pima County? Arizona law and the voters of Pima County have entrusted you with this choice; your individual and collective reputation for honesty will be impacted by your decision.
Thank you for your attention.
Michael A. Duniho
(1) Mr. Huckelberry stated that “one member” of the Pima County Election Integrity Commission “has championed the concept of sorting early ballots by precinct,” implying that only one member of the Commission really cares about such matters. He omitted the fact that the October 26 EIC recommendation was approved by a 7-0 vote of the EIC members.
(2) In describing 300-400 staff hours to sort early ballots as an impossible task, Mr. Huckelberry omitted the fact that 300-400 hours of work by a dozen people could be accomplished in three days, and that the cost of 300-400 hours of work would be on the order of $2,000-$3,000. Mr. Huckelberry’s estimate of time required to sort the ballots also omitted any reference to F. Ann Rodriguez’s offer to provide lists of precincts represented in the various batches, which would enable workers to extract ballots for a few precincts rather than sort all precincts. After extracting ballots for the chosen precincts from a batch, workers could move on to the next batch of ballots. This could shorten the time and reduce the effort required to select a small number of precincts for hand counting. With Ms. Rodriguez’s assistance, the time required might be only two days, since the three-day estimate is based on sorting all 288 precincts instead of just selecting a few precincts for the audit.
(3) Mr. Huckelberry’s estimate of $256,137 for hiring Runbeck to sort the ballots is factually incorrect. First, he based his estimate on 261,364 ballots, the total number of early ballots received at the time he wrote his memo; the EIC recommendation only referred to less than 200,000 early ballots received and processed by Election Day. Second, Runbeck’s price of $.98 per ballot is 100 times what it should be; it would make no sense for Pima County to pay Runbeck $200,000 to do a job that can be done in-house for $2,000. For $200,000, Pima County could buy several sorting machines.
(4) Mr. Huckelberry’s estimate of $300,000-$500,000 to buy a sorting machine is a multiple at least five times too high. I asked Pitney Bowes about an earlier estimate of $125,000 given out by John Moffatt and was told that Pima County could buy a top-of-the-line Pitney Bowes sorting machine for “significantly less” than $125,000. The person I talked with, at Pitney Bowes Sales Headquarters, said the cost would depend on which features were included but that the cost would be on the order of $65,000.
(5) Mr. Huckelberry’s distinction of sorting ballots in the envelopes versus out of the envelopes is incorrect. The sorter can handle ballots either way with equal ease.
(6) Mr. Huckelberry disputed my report last week that the EIC members were not informed of the postponement of our proposal on the BOS agenda. He stated that we were notified on Nov 9. In fact, the EIC was informed only after we demanded an explanation of why the agenda published on Nov 8 did not contain the EIC recommendation. Mr. Huckelberry unilaterally postponed the recommendation without consulting or informing the Election Integrity Commission. This violated the Commission’s right to advise the Board of Supervisors without interference, and it also violated basic rules of courtesy.
(7) Mr. Huckelberry’s statement that sorting early ballots is “impossible” is incorrect. The task is not impossible, merely tedious to do by hand. Mr. Huckelberry gave six reasons (the second two were actually the same reason, restated in different words) for avoiding the sorting of early ballots. None of these reasons is actually a valid argument for rejecting the EIC recommendation.
- The first reason: The fact that Pima County had already counted 100,000 ballots when the EIC made its recommendation is true but logically irrelevant to the current discussion.
- Reasons two and three: The risk of handling ballots in the face of a possible recount is listed as a reason for not sorting ballots but is logically erroneous. At this point, we are reasonably certain there will be no recounts and no legal challenges. In any case, an accusation of mishandling ballots would not be allayed by the County claiming that it did not touch the ballots while in its custody. A charge could easily be made that County election personnel manipulated the ballots while they were “in storage.” Sorting the ballots and performing a hand count audit by precinct is the only way to positively demonstrate that the ballots were counted honestly and that no manipulation of votes took place while the ballots were in Election Department custody.
- Reason four: That the audit should take place between the Hand Count Audit and the Canvass is true but logically irrelevant to your decision unless your decision is delayed until the date of your approving the Canvass, which it appears has been Mr. Huckelberry’s strategy all along.
- Reason five: The difficulties encountered by counters in the Hand Count Audit are well-known but not logically relevant to this discussion; they are manageable problems.
- Reason six: The difficulties of extracting early ballots for a precinct-based audit are real but manageable, and were considered manageable by the Election Integrity Commission before its recommendation was submitted to you.
(8) In describing the sequence of events leading up to Pima County’s obtaining a waiver from the state requirement to sort early ballots by precinct, Mr. Huckelberry omitted the fact that Brad Nelson neither consulted nor even informed the EIC of the requirement or the waiver. In addition, Mr. Nelson’s arguments in his letter to the state that sorting is impractical are factually erroneous. Mr. Nelson claimed he could do a better hand count audit by not sorting the ballots but, in fact, the early ballot audit as currently performed is worthless in terms of confirming a lack of fraud in vote counting. It is also noteworthy that the Secretary of State’s Elections Director granted the waiver BEFORE Mr. Nelson wrote his justification letter, suggesting an improper sequence of events.
(9) Mr. Huckelberry cited a successful hand count audit as proof that no further audit is needed, another distortion of fact. He touted the fact that Pima County counts four percent of polling place ballots; he omitted the fact that polling place ballots in this election made up only 27% of all the ballots cast; 70% of voters cast early ballots, and therefore a proper hand count audit of early ballots is needed to confirm the integrity of the overall election. Mr. Huckelberry also omitted the irrelevance of the current early ballot hand count audit to confirming a lack of fraud. [I might point out that the law requires an audit of 1% of all the early ballots issued (1% of 261,545 ballots would be 2,615 ballots) but Pima County only hand counted 1,985 early ballots. Not that it makes any difference, since the current early ballot hand count audit is useless for confirming an election’s honesty.]
(10) In his concluding recommendation:
- Mr. Huckelberry said the election tabulation “is expected to continue for another 4 to 7 days.” In fact, processing of the ballots which your EIC recommended sorting and hand counting was completed by Election Day.
- Mr. Huckelberry referred to the physical impossibility of accurately selecting, sorting into precincts and auditing nearly 200,000 early ballots. In fact, the EIC’s recommendation could be satisfied by selecting and auditing approximately 2,000 ballots.
- Mr. Huckelberry reiterated the “risk of handling ballots when faced with possible recounts.” In fact, it appears there will be no recounts, and Pima County would be in a better position to defend itself against charges of malfeasance if it adopted a more transparent policy, following the state requirement to sort early ballots and audit by precinct instead of secretly obtaining a waiver from the state requirement.
- Mr. Huckelberry claimed the positive outcome of the present hand counts as a reason to not adopt the EIC recommendation, but the EIC took that into account when it made the recommendation. The present early ballot audit is worthless in terms of certifying the election’s integrity.