11/24/2004

Daily Kos :: Bev Harris - Kerry campaign blew it on fraud investigation

"Completely irresponsible. A $52 million litigation war chest accumulated from citizen donations for that purpose. - Bev Harris on Kerry's early concession

Bev goes on:

If they were the slightest bit interested in either voting system integrity or actually winning, they would have litigated the BBV records requests to apply some real muscle into prompt disclosure of audit materials, at least in Ohio and Florida. Failure to comply with sunshine laws is against the law, yet a citizens group like Black Box Voting cannot claim legal urgency, forcing immediate compliance, in the same way that a campaign can. There is no question that if the campaign had enforced the sunshine laws, analyzing the audit data, two things would have happened:

1. records would have been produced
2. auditing would have been enabled, and we all know that would have produced hard evidence of irregularities.

The screen shots of the NETWORKED Volusia County GEMS server alone, along with the logs showing attempts to access it remotely, should have hit the national press. (I showed them to CNN cameramen yesterday, along with 59 orange-tagged poll tapes that were missing signatures, zero tapes, sometimes missing results altogether! No interest in getting a shot of that smoking gun at all.)

Oh yeh, and we intereviewed poll workers. On camera. Showed them the poll tapes we were given by Volusia County. To a person, they said, with great concern, "That is NOT what we submitted to the county." One remembered the results on his poll tape. What he remembered, before ever seeing the results tape or hearing what was on our copy, was not the same. His memory for a precinct with a tad over 400 voters had 60 more votes for Kerry. Of course, that's not legally binding, since he hadn't written it down.

You have to wonder. The purpose of our audits is to get some real answers, so we don't have to wonder any more.

Bev"

AND FURTHER DOWN IN THE THREAD, SHE WROTE, IN REPLY TO ANOTHER DU'ER:

link

"The Dems did nothing to help themselves, let me clarify

As a nonpartisan nonprofit 501c(3), we cannot get involved in campaigns, recounts and the like. However, by sending the records request to every county in the nation, and publishing the exact documents needed on the web site by midnight Nov. 2, this put ALL parties on notice what was needed in order to properly audit.

We made ourselves available for consultation on exactly what records to request and how to use them for auditing.

Other political parties have used information from our public records request to set up their own recounts and audits. Citizens groups have also done so on a local basis.

Therefore, the road map for the Kerry campaign was right there. Though we could not accept, and they certainly did not offer, assistence on securing our own request, they certainly should have filed an identical request themselves, litigated and muscled counties into compliance in Ohio and Florida, and it would have been easy for them to get teams of computer people to examine the logs and teams of auditors to match up the records. This all could have been done in a matter of three days...at most, 5 days, with the muscle they had.

Instead, they rebuffed our attempts to provide expertise, advice, or evidence, and they made no effort whatsoever to do any auditing at all, nor even to obtain the records needed for simple, quick, diagnostics.

More recently, we have had overtures, but I admit I've been pretty rude and completely without patience with them. Too late, and far too little emphasis on what really needs to be done.

The Kerry attorney in Volusia, by the way, came by but asked not a single question, never asked to look at any evidence, and told one of the producers of Votergate that he thought Black Box Voting was just here to "stir up trouble."

We were very open about the problems we anticipated with this -- the Election Protection effort, which was admirable, was focused solely on watching the casting of the vote, rather than the counting of the vote. When concerned people with access to decisionmakers tried to bring this huge ommission to the attention of people who could take corrective action, they said they were not interested and, in some cases, refused to even take the phone to talk with Black Box Voting.

After the election, everyone came to us asking what we can do. Many people expected Black Box Voting, an organization held together only by the grit of volunteers and the efforts of three full time investigators and a board of directors, with a shoestring budget, to overturn the national election. Not only was this the expectation unrealistic (though our nonpartisan charter would prohibit us from seeking a recount anyway), but the clock had already been run out.

We have consistently been ahead of the curve on this. We identified the problems with voting machine reliability and nontransparency way back in 2002; we have stressed since 2003 that the problems are not just touch screens, but with all computerized systems, including optical scans and punch cards, and we have focused on auditing as the solution since mid-2003.

While everyone else was focusing on getting a "paper trail" (without making any efforts to ensure that something meaningful was done to USE the paper to audit), we were focusing on auditing ommissions, both with the machines and with election procedures. While 40,000 people charged off to watch votes being cast, we published guidelines to create human audit logs for the central tabulator, the machine that COUNTS the votes.

In short, the time to set things up to contest this election on a national basis was a few weeks BEFORE the election. No one in a decisionmaking capacity bothered to do that, though we had been publicly calling for this, even going to Washington D.C. in September to meet with people and hold a press conference, in September.

Now, after the fact, people are realizing the mistakes.

1. Focusing on touch-screens and computer solutions, instead of focusing on basic auditing and bookkeeping

2. Focusing on touch screen machines instead of the central tabulator and the optical scans and punch card computers as well.

3. Failing to put any procedures in place to audit elections properly on a county by county basis

And now, failing to use the legal muscle of the party to enforce production of audit documents, and failure to do any auditing at all.

The result is that the American People are left with uncertainty on a nationwide basis.

Stay tuned for an upcoming national conference which will be put on by Black Box Voting, called "Help America Audit," in which we will teach citizens groups, political parties, candidates, and private citizens how to conduct citizen audits of elections on a county by county basis, the only method available to us, really -- and stay tuned, also, for an action we'll be taking soon to beef up compliance with the public records requests needed for election auditing.

Love ya,

Bev"

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