Why have we been silent about our ongoing HAVA (Help America Vote Act) complaint about the unstable voting systems in use in Chicago?
In February, Defend the Vote announced we had raised some funds to hire a lawyer to help in our heated battle to rid Chicago and Suburban Cook County of a voting system that NEVER passed the 2002 Federal Voting System Standards as required by Illinois and Federal Law. Specifically, the system failed the mandated error rate testing and was withdrawn from further testing by Dominion Voting. Chicago and Suburban Cook County use the notorious Dominion/Sequoia WinEds system comprised of the Edge2Plus (AVC Edge) and the 400c central counting machine. These machines are also used in at least 11 other states and are the voting machines that are renowned for switching votes from the Republican to the Democrat candidate.
In August of 2014, Defend the Vote filed two HAVA complaints in an attempt to stop the Illinois State Board from allowing the defective and uncertified machines to continue being used in Chicago and Suburban Cook County. These two complaints assert that:
1) The Illinois Administrative Code for HAVA filings is against HAVA because it only allows for a 90 day period to file the complaints. Our complaint asserts that HAVA Law requires a greater period of time. Furthermore, the Illinois Administrative Code for HAVA only allows people to file after a violation. This goes directly against what is outlined in the law: “Under the procedures, any person who believes that there is a violation of any provision of title III (including a violation which has occurred, is occurring, or is about to occur) may file a complaint.” SEC. 402. 2(B)
2) Our second complaint deals directly with the voting equipment and asserts that the Dominion Voting WinEds electronic voting system (consisting of the Edge2Plus—AVC Edge—and the 400c) used in Chicago, Suburban Cook County, and 11 other states, failed the error rate test required by Federal HAVA laws and Illinois laws, administrative rules, and State Board of Elections rules. (Read a summary here)
Generally speaking, the Illinois Administrative Code for HAVA (Section 111 part 150) controls how a HAVA complaint is filed and processed in Illinois. Defend the Vote had the option to have an immediate hearing before the same Illinois State Board of Elections that voted to continue to authorize use of this error-prone voting system or to take the complaint into the “mediation process.”
Defend the Vote elected to start the process in mediation, and used the funds we raised to hire Robert Lehrer to represent us in the mediation process. Our next mediation meeting is on May 21st. Katheryn Dutenhaver, from Depaul University, is the certified Mediator handling this case. After the mediation process is complete, the Illinois State Board of Elections must vote on any decisions reached – or if there is no decision reached, they will have to hold a hearing to resolve the complaint. The ISBE will address the HAVA complaint at the June 16th Board meeting. According to part 150, if Defend the Vote is not satisfied with the results, our next option is a judicial review.
When parties enter into mediation, federal and state law requires that the “position papers” and the deliberative process be kept confidential. Although Defend the Vote greatly prefers a more open approach, we have been silenced – if only temporarily. Our lawyer has assured me that a court case will cost at least $100,000, and maybe twice that, should we move into litigation. This is a very technical fight, so experts will need to be hired and it will likely require a team of lawyers.
As mediation requires Defend the Vote to keep the details confidential, our next update will come after the May 21st meeting.