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 Specifically, the system failed the mandated error rate testing and was withdrawn from further testing by Dominion Voting.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.”
This graphic is from Brad's Blog – The 2010's article’s title says it all: Exclusive: On Heels of Diebold/Premier Purchase, Canadian E-Voting Firm Dominion Also Acquires Sequoia, Lies About Chavez-Ties in Announcement: "Intellectual Property" of voting systems still owned by firm linked to Venezuelan President, despite press statements to the contrary.
It might not surprise Chicago and Suburban Cook County voters to learn the Dominion/Sequoia WinEds system, comprised of the electronic voting machine called the Edge2Plus (AVC Edge) and the 400c central counting machine, failed to pass the error testing rate as mandated by HAVA (Help America Vote Act). More complaints about these voting machines pile in after every election. The error testing rate permits one error per 500,000 ballot positions. Defend the Vote uncovered that not only did the voting system not pass the error testing as required by Federal Law, but Dominion removed the machines from further testing and has discontinued manufacturing the WinEds system altogether.
This does not mean Dominion/Sequoia has stopped making a profit from the error-prone machines. Not at all! Nation-wide,Dominion/Sequoia has exclusive multi-million dollar contracts to provide support for various versions of the WinEds system. Essentially, Dominion pulled the machines from the testing process because they knew their voting system could not pass the error testing requirements, but they still make substantial corporate profits from servicing the defective equipment. Those are our tax dollars being sunk into the upkeep of a discontinued and insecure voting system. Even worse, these vulnerable machines are used to count over half of the vote in Illinois and somewhere around 30 million votes across the USA.
Commissioner Richard Cowen, the Republican Commissioner on the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners (CBOE) passed away on Sunday while visiting family in California. Commissioner Richard Cowen reportedly battled cancer during 2014 and into this year. Beginning in 2014, he was absent from some CBOE Board meetings and also participated in some meetings from the phone as he worked to overcome his health challenges. Defend the Vote did not verify the exact cause of death, but was informed he died from natural causes.
Commissioner Cowen was the sole Republican on the 3 member Chicago Board of Election Commissioners. Defend the Vote worked with Commissioner Cowen on multiple occasions as we uncovered and worked to change illegal and deficient practices of the Board. On many instances Commissioner Cowen was the sole voice on the Board that supported our investigations and work.
Prior to joining the CBOE, Mr. Cowen served on the Illinois State Board of Elections for fifteen years where he was elected chairman and vice-chairman. In addition to his duties on the Chicago Board of Elections Commissioners, Richard Cowen was a founding partner with Stahl Cowen Crowley Addis LLC. He received his law degree from Northwestern University.
Defend the Vote extends our regards to Mr. Cowen’s family, friends, clients, and co-workers who will surely miss him. We will also miss him! With a warm and witty personality, we appreciated his astute understanding of the law and his ability to address complex issues related to Chicago elections.
According to Illinois election laws, every polling place must have a 1:2 or a 2:3 ratio of election judges from the two dominant political parties. The dominant party receives the majority of election judge placements in these ratios. The number of judges in the ratio varies based on the type of election. The laws further require that at least half of these judges must live in the precinct where they are assigned. Defend the Vote has been working to assure every vote in Illinois is secured with bi-partisan oversight over the voting process. In Chicago, under the Chicago Board of Elections Commissioners or the CBOE, there are literally hundreds of precincts where there is only one party (the Democrat Party) assigned to protect the vote.
Shockingly, this discriminatory assignment of election judges appears to be focused in the minority wards in Chicago.
Both political parties are tasked with locating and assigning their judges, and judges are assigned on ‘certified lists.’ There are two lists that election jurisdictions must refer to; the Chairman’s List and the Chairman's Supplemental List.
All Illinois election boards are legally obligated and required to place the judges as assigned by the two political parties first. If there are no judges assigned by the political parties, they can recruit judges from over the counter applicants. The laws prohibit the election boards from placing Democrat Party voters into Republican Party positions and vice versa. Political party affiliation is generally, but not exclusively, determined by which ballot was selected during the last primary election.
After appointment, all Judges of Elections are commissioned by a judge from the county court. Commissioned election judges hold a legal commission to serve for 2 years.
The laws also require the election jurisdictions to inform the Party when they discipline (i.e. remove) their election judges, and they need to inform the political parties about the training of their election judges to assure there are trained judges from both parties in every precinct.
The Cook County Republican Party Chairman Aaron Del Mar has filed a formal complaint with the Chicago Board of Elections and the Illinois State Board of Elections, alleging that the Board is willfully refusing to place Republican-assigned election judges in the minority wards of Chicago. Chairman Del Mar states:
I am very excited to report that our fund-raising drive succeeded in bringing in funds to hire a legal team to represent the two HAVA complaints filed at the Illinois State Board of Elections!
We will continue our fund-raising activities, but for now we can proceed to hire our legal team. We will update you as soon as that is completed. We are working on it today and tomorrow!
As they say... More to Come!
Illinois Law requires all voting systems to be approved by an independent lab as having passed the error testing standards set by 2002 HAVA laws (Help America Vote Act). DTV research proved that in December 2013, the manufacturer of these machines, Dominion Voting, pulled them from the EAC’s (Election Assistance Commission) testing and approval processes after they failed the error testing rates in two separate independent lab testing programs. Dominion Voting decided not to undergo further testing and stopped manufacturing the machines.
Unfortunately, two jurisdictions in Illinois had already purchased the uncertified machines: Chicago and Suburban Cook County.
Consequently, we have filed a HAVA complaint against the State Board of Elections for allowing these machines to continue to be used in both Chicago and Suburban Cook County. Our objective is to have them replaced before the 2016 elections. In addition, these machines are used in the following other locations:
SB172 was passed by the Illinois General Assembly during the lame duck session.
This Omni-bill devastates the security of your vote and is awaiting Governor Quinn's signature.
It authorizes In-precinct Election Day voter registration and the voter is given a regular ballot and not a provisional ballot - Without ever confirming the registration.
I will be writing more about this during the first 10 days of January and will update the website then.
Illinois Election Security Report
Watchdog for election reform in Illinois.
Defend the Vote Projects: 2015
Illinois Election Security Report
2011-2014: Watchdog for election reform in Illinois.
Projects and Accomplishments: 2011-2014
To follow-up on what happened at the Board meetings on Tuesday October 21st.
Recap: IN 2013, Defend the Vote conducted a FOIA investigation of how the Chicago Board of Elections secures the early voted ballots (both the paper copy printed by the machine and the USB memory device which saves the record of the vote). This FOIA proved that there was no verified chain of custody, literally! The ballots were moved from the early voting sites to the CBEC without anyone assuring that they were locked and sealed before leaving the early voting site, during transport to CBEC offices at 69 West Washington, or once arriving at the CBEC offices. We presented our results to the Chicago Board of Elections and were promised on multiple occasions that new procedures to secure the vote would be put in place. Each time we requested a copy of these new procedures we were told to wait... they were coming. Finally, unable to wait any longer, we appealed to the Illinois State Board of Elections right before their October 21st Board meeting to assure the early voted ballots in Chicago are secured.
On Tuesday afternoon, there were two Board meetings; the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners (CBEC) and the Illinois State Board of Elections (ISBE). Both took place during the same time frame. Logistically, there was a small chance I could make it to both, but I had to go to the ISBE meeting, first. On the agenda was the HAVA complaint filed in late August. During this Board meeting, the ISBE and I agreed to work to set up an "alternative dispute resolution" process and are currently looking for the correct legal group to serve in the role of assisting to resolve the HAVA complaint.
The letter I sent to the Illinois State Board of Elections is in this article: Loosy Goosy Security on the EV Voted Ballots.
On Tuesday, right before I spoke, the ISBE approved Ken Menzel as the new General Counsel to replace Steve Sandvoss, who is now the Executive Director. General Counsel Menzel's first job following his appointment was literally to run to the Chicago Board meeting (which was still in session across the street) and to have them provide evidence that the early voted ballots are secured. Many of the ISBE Board members displayed concern and wanted immediate answers!
Editor's Note: November 5, 2014 - When voters attempt to vote and the electronic machine switches votes, that is considered a voting system error. The Federal government sets permissible error rates of 1 per 500,000 ballot positions. Assuming these errors are caused by calibration related issues, this is not considered a voter's error. It is a system or machine error. Rock Island voters should be very concerned about these reports especially because there were so many of them. Rock Island's next step should be to FOIA all of the repair reports from this election for these machines.
From the Illinois Review
Rock Island County Clerk defiant, lashes out in Facebook posts
ROCK ISLAND, IL - KWQC TV-6 reported yesterday about several complaints of electronic voting fraud with the early voting machines in Rock Island County.
Rock Island County Clerk Karen Kinney (D-Rock Island) offered no comment to the media about the allegations, but did take to Facebook last night to silence any criticism, calling the formal complaints "lies, & more lies" and accusing those who filed complaints of "making false allegations to suppress the vote."
The Schilling for Congress campaign reached out to the Illinois State Board of Elections on Friday to report the situation. The State Board of Elections made contact with the Rock Island County Clerk's office and recommended re-calibrating the early voting machines. As of yet, there is no evidence that a full re-calibration has occurred.
According to a press release, the Schilling campaign has now received more than 20 reports from voters who have had their vote switched on the electronic voting machines. Several formal complaints have been filed to the Rock Island County Clerk's office.
Yesterday, the Schilling campaign also heard from a voter who went to early vote at the County Clerk's office and was turned away after requesting a paper ballot.
Jon Schweppe, communications director at Bobby Schilling for Congress, released the following statement:
"Every vote matters. Every vote should be counted. Karen Kinney needs to stop victim-blaming on Facebook and start working to fix the faulty machines. Voters in Rock Island County are quickly losing faith in the legitimacy of our elections, and that's unacceptable. The Rock Island County Clerk needs to do something immediately."
Editor's Note: 11-5-14 Poll book problems were wide spread during the 2014 November elections in Suburban Cook County and in Chicago. The books would not upload the signatures. This caused many judges to wait for hours at the polling booths as they tried to get set up for the elections. Phone lines to both Chicago and Suburban Cook County election officials were busy and dropped calls after the judges waited long periods of time to speak with these election officials to get help. We received reports as late as 11 pm on Election Day eve that polling booths were not ready for the morning because they were unable to upload the poll books.