Detroit: The Limitations of Paper Ballots and Recounts

The value of paper ballots and recounts depends on the chain-of-custody and the integrity of election officials.  Bev Harris reports in a letter the almost unbelievable, sad situation in a Detroit Mayoral race recount: <read>

From: Bev Harris
Subject: BBV Bulletin: DETROIT – CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION REQUESTED FOR ELECTIONS VIOLATIONS

…Ex-candidate Tom Barrow has filed a formal request for investigation along with stunning documentation of chain of custody breach in the recent Detroit mayoral election. Black Box Voting has been in close contact with Barrow, and we will be reviewing additional documents related to this case. The allegations are fascinating…

the full complaint and its accompanying Exhibit provides a pretty good primer for citizens and candidates who want to watchdog elections. Full details of the 79-point complaint…

#13 – Throughout the day, O’Hara, McDonald and Butler reported observing numerous individuals with large bags and back packs entering and remaining in the absentee counting station area. They also reported that at 8pm, the counting room security completely broke down and the general public was permitted to freely access the restricted access areas

# 23 – three people from ES&S, (the voting equipment computer company) had just signed in at 7:55 am along with one more individual from Premier. [note that the location uses ES&S machines, but not Premier machines; why were technicians entering the building, and why was anyone from Premier there at all?] …

# 44. … notwithstanding the seal differences, nearly all of the cases opened were disallowed and deemed not able to be recounted because there were significant discrepancies between the number of voters in the poll books and the number of voter ballots in the case along with other violations. # 48. Now broadly suspicious, Complainant without anyone’s knowledge created his own informal security system to reveal to him of any breaches to the building after hours…

# 74. Finally, on Monday, December 21, 2009, Complainant and his Team arrived at the recount location to obtain an explanation of why numerous time clocks on numerous polling computers showed dates and times which seemingly indicated that the polls had been electronically closed hours before the statutory required 8pm poll closing time…

# 76. Complainant immediately confronted county recount election staff who called the weekend security guard. After speaking with the guard in full sight of the room of observers, Ms Cynthia Hawthorne, explained to the room of over 30 people that the guard just admitted to her that 2 people had indeed come to the door, the door was opened and the guard invited the strangers in and allowed them to tour the “secure” area … Footnote # (10) Indeed, precinct 20-04 [certified as having hundreds of ballots] was an empty case with no voted, unused or spoiled ballots inside.

Detroit seems blatant, however, it takes just one failure in ballot integrity to bring an election result into question.  We have  our own chain-of-custody issues in Connecticut as well: <Haddam> <Coalition Audit Report>

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