Defend the Vote, the Election Judge Association, and Walsh Freedom are combining forces in an historic program to protect the vote across Illinois for this very important General election!
Last night, Joe Walsh, former Illinois Congressman and Radio Host at AM560, announced this groundbreaking initiative on his radio show. He will continue to cover this historic voter integrity program on his show. From 5-7pm, you can listen to Joe live on AM560, or you can listen to his show live or as archived at WalshFreedom.com.
WalshFreedom.com has an army of volunteers across the entire state of Illinois that regularly step up to support candidates, referendums, and causes! Election integrity is a huge passion for Joe Walsh and the members of Walsh Freedom.
Honest elections require the public to be involved in helping to secure the vote.
The Walsh Freedom army of volunteers will serve as pollwatchers across Illinois. They will use scoring sheets to document what they observe. These volunteers will poll watch at nursing homes, they will be at early voting sites, they will be present to observe the processing and counting of mail-in paper ballots, and they will be present in polling places across Illinois on Election Day!
The Election Judge Association and Defend the Vote will provide training, pollwatcher scoring sheets to document the pollwatcher’s experience, pollwatching credentials, and the research and FOIA’s required for this effort. We will assist in any way that we can!
Volunteers needed! This event cannot succeed without Illinois voters stepping up to help!
Nursing home voters are the most vulnerable voters in Illinois. There are about 10,000 residents in nursing homes that vote across the state. Nursing home voting in Illinois is conducted between Friday November 5th and Monday November 7th. The residents vote on one of these days according to a schedule set by the election jurisdiction.
According to Illinois laws, nursing homes must request to conduct nursing home voting. Residents of these homes who wish to vote using this method, request a mail-in paper absentee ballot. Each election jurisdiction must assign at least 1 Republican and 1 Democrat election judge to oversee each nursing home resident who votes at the nursing home.
It is important to note that not all senior centers have a nursing home facility. Some senior centers also are polling places for other types of voting including early voting and Election Day voting. Nursing home voting is used by residents who cannot vote on their own or simply prefer to vote this way.
Generally, residents are brought by nursing home staff to a large room that is designated as a voting area. Two bi-partisan election judges oversee the vote. The resident can ask for an election judge, caregiver, friend, or family member to assist in marking the ballot. Anyone that assists the voter, must also sign the ballot's outside envelope. This voting must be supervised by the bi-partisan election judges. Bed-side voting is permitted for residents who cannot go to the designated voting area. A Republican and Democrat election judge must be present at the bed-side while the resident votes. Poll watchers may observe from outside the room.
Investigations in 2012 in both Chicago and Suburban Cook County found that 77% of the homes were not staffed according to the legal requirements. The greatest problem was the lack of bi-partisan judge teams. Most of the homes only had 1 political party overseeing the vote. We found some election judges who stored voted ballots in their cars. As a result of our investigation, changes were made including much better attention to the proper assignment of the election judges.
It is time for a fresh investigation. This 2016 investigation includes the entire state.
We will report on the results as we get closer to the election and the data is in. Already 20 of the 110 election jurisdictions have responded. I expect we should have updates by next week.
Poll watchers are needed to help secure these votes. More information to come!
Editor Note: What is the best way to secure your vote in Illinois? Vote in-precinct at your home polling place on Election Day.
Where is the vote MOST vulnerable in Illinois?
Without a doubt, the two easiest places to steal the vote is in mail-in paper ballots and in the nursing homes. I will discuss these MAJOR vulnerabilities, as well as detail the risks of early voting at voting centers across the state.
Early voting at voting centers is a risk – For instance, Defend the Vote auditors proved in 2014 that Chicago lacked a secure chain of custody on the USB memory devices and the paper scrolls recording these votes. When the voting machine’s memory is full, the USB memory device holding these votes and the paper scroll record is transported back to Chicago’s election offices at 69 West Washington.
Our investigation proved that these voted ballots and the USB memory devices containing these votes left the early voting centers unsealed and without anyone signing them out and without anyone signing them in when they were received at headquarters. The couriers secretly transporting these unsecured voted ballots were not election judges, they were paid contractors for Chicago. There was zero accountability.
After our investigation, Chicago instituted controls right before the Governor’s race, but only because Defend the Vote loudly proclaimed the results of our security audit to the State Board of Elections. Finally, after a couple of highly charged meetings, Chicago came up with their “new system” just in time for the Governor’s race.
Does that mean early voting in Illinois is secure now? Since our initial 2011 audit, the early vote is now subject to a random audit. Because the vote is subject to random audits, it is more secure than nursing home and mail-in-paper voting. However, the SAFEEST way to vote is in your home precinct on Election Day. These vote are overseen by election judges and they are counted at the end of the day, right in the precinct, in front of witnesses. The results are immediately posted, and they are subject to a random audit after the election. This means the risk of voter fraud is greatly reduced. It does not stop people from fraudulently voting at the polling places, but it makes it harder for insiders with nefarious motivations to change the votes that are cast in your polling place.
We will be auditing early voting across the state of Illinois for this election.
Approximately 10,000 nursing home votes are cast in Illinois.
How protected is the nursing home vote? In 2012, Defend the Vote proved that in Cook County (Chicago and Suburban Cook County), 77% of the nursing homes were not legally staffed with election judges from both political parties. The vast majority of the nursing homes had only one party represented, and we caught Chicago assigning Democrat election judges (as formally commissioned by the Circuit Court) to serve as Republican election judges for the nursing homes. We also caught election judges illegally storing voted ballots in their cars and not transporting them directly to the election authorities. Multiple residents told our pollwatchers they had not requested to vote and did not want to vote. Considering the lack of bi-partisan over-site, how are these rejected ballots handled when a pollwatcher is not there?
Without bi-partisan panels of election judges overseeing the nursing home vote, we subject 10,000 of our most vulnerable voters to voter fraud.
We were successful in correcting these illegal practices, but this does not guarantee that the votes of nursing home patients will be protected again in 2016. We have initiated a fresh audit of nursing homes across Illinois and will be alerting all village clerks of our investigations.
Mail-in paper voting is not secure and you are at the greatest risk of losing your vote if you vote this way. In Illinois, the political parties like to encourage people to vote by mail-in paper ballots; especially this year. Historically, about 8% of Illinois voters vote by mail-in paper ballots. In 2016, I anticipate the percentage will grow, perhaps even double.
Why is mail-in paper voting not secure? Illinois does not require any audit of mail-in paper voting. Secondly, while the law requires that the ballots not be counted until Election Day, it does not stop jurisdictions from “processing” the ballots.
What is processing? That means the election authorities open the voted ballots and put them through a ballot counting machine and then group these “processed” ballots into batches which are never audited. Accordingly, the election authorities are not supposed to have the processed votes tallied or totaled before 7pm on Election Day.
In 2012, we reported that in Cook County, the memory devices holding these processed mail-in ballots were not secured. After processing a batch of ballots, one pollwatcher witnessed an election official dropping the unsecured USB device into her pocket while holding a printed copy of the voting results, and then leaving the room. Zero chain of custody, and our auditor said he saw the voting results on that paper record before Election Day.
Processing or counting the absentee ballot… is there really a difference? We argue there is not.
Importantly, in our earlier report we stated that the software running these machines is not secure, and that it can be accessed by multiple officials without detection by going directly into the data tables.
This means that the wrong person with the right access can go into the data table and weight the vote or out-right change the vote without being detected. This is especially true because there is no audit of the returns. Thus, a person wishing to commit voter fraud knows they will most likely not be caught. As reported earlier, Dr. Eric Commer, VP of Engineering at Dominion Voting Systems, admitted to us at the September 2016 Illinois State Board of Elections meeting that multiple people have access to the data tables without supervision and without any documentation of this access.
Illinois does not require the mail-in paper ballots to be returned in tamper evident envelopes, which makes mail-in paper voting even more open to fraud. Most envelopes I have seen are lick and seal. There is also no legal requirement on how these ballots are to be stored. In our 2012 audit, we caught Suburban Cook County sealing and resealing plastic containers holding the ballots with the same pieces of duct tape. Suburban Cook County corrected this deficiency after we reported on it…
On Tuesday, the 7th Circuit Appeals Court stayed the injunction, handed down by the US District Court on September 29th, which prevented in-precinct Election Day voter registration. The US District Court ruled that permitting only some voters in Illinois to register at their precinct’s polling place on Election Day was unconstitutional because it favors voters in counties with a population over 100,000 voters. Smaller counties are exempted from the voter registration law.
The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appealsset Thursday, Oct 6th for briefs explaining why this case should face an expedited appeal process.
In the 2016 Primary election, over 100,000 new voters registered in their polling place in the 20 counties that had in-precinct Election Day voter registration. The Chicago Board of Elections affirm that 35,000 of these voters were from Chicago. This number of new voters can easily weight a close election to favor voters in more populated counties.
U.S. District Court Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan handed down the September 29th injunction stating “Illinois is made up of more than the Chicago metropolitan area and other high population areas. Equality under the law does not end at the city limits. The Constitution guarantees equal voting rights to all United States citizens in Illinois, not simply those in counties that have the highest populations and have organizations such as those represented in the Amicus Briefs to stand up for their enhanced voting rights.”
On September 30th, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Cook County Clerk David Orr asked the 7th Circuit Appeals Court to stay Der-Yeghiayan’s Injunction. They claimed it could cause for some unregistered voters to be unable to vote on Election Day.
The lifting of Der-Yeghiayan’s injunction does not necessarily indicate how the Appeals Court will rule - or even if they will issue a ruling on the merits of the case before the November elections.
From an operational perspective, this stay of Der-Yeghiayan’s injunction, permits election jurisdictions to continue to prepare for Election Day in-precinct polling place voter registration while the expedited appeal process is underway.
Illinois is the only state that permits one jurisdiction to register voters in-precinct on Election day while not allowing others the same right.
This decision could directly impact many state and federal races. It effectively gives greater weight to the voters in the larger counties.
From a security perspective, this means that there will be many additional ballot security challenges at the polling places this November. It is more important than ever to get poll watchers into as many polling places as possible!
Thanks to a ruling by the US District Court, Election Day in-precinct voter registration has been canceled in Illinois, at least for now.
This is a WOW moment for the counties in Illinois with populations over 100,000. There are 110 counties in Illinois, 20 have populations over 100,000. Each of these 20 counties have been furiously working to set up voter registration centers in every polling place. Believe me, not a small feat!
In 2014, during the lame duck session preceding Governor Rauner’s term, Illinois Democrat legislators passed—and Governor Quinn signed—a law that requires Election Day in-precinct voter registration in some election jurisdictions. This law required election jurisdictions with a population of 100,000 or more to allow people to register or update their registration status at their home precinct’s polling place on Election Day. This same right was not given to the smaller counties. This means there would have been 90 counties in Illinois where voters could not register in-precinct on Election Day. Rural voters would have to go to the centralized voting center that each county is required to have open on Election Day for new voters to register and vote.
Liberty Justice Center, an affiliate of the Illinois Policy Institute, filed the law suit. The decision by US District Court Judge Der‑Teghiayan, who called this law unconstitutional, will have a substantive impact on the elections. In the March 2016 Primary, 110,000 voters registered to vote in their polling places on Election Day. The lawsuit argues this gives a real advantage to the more populated election jurisdictions; voters in rural counties have to arrange to travel to the centralized voting center, compared to registering and voting in the neighborhood polling place.
Not surprisingly, Attorney General Madigan has already notified the US District Court of her intention to appeal the decision. Even if the decision by Judge Der‑Teghiayan is overruled, it seems unlikely the decision will be overruled completely. The argument is solid. Voter registration allowed in some precincts and not others creates a disadvantaged playing field. Legally, the damage is irreversible, and it is clearly unconstitutional.
Madigan’s appeal will likely assert blocking the law so late in the game will disadvantage voters who might have thought they could register on Election Day. I am not a lawyer, but I believe the requirement for a level playing field will prevail and a remedy can be found for these voters. They can go to the centralized voting center just like rural voters do.
The judge’s decision does not prevent cities from opening more centralized voting centers to allow for increased access throughout the election jurisdiction, but the late timing makes it challenging to do so.
This late changing development presents a difficult dilemma for the 20 election jurisdictions involved. They must continue to prepare for in-precinct voter registration in case the court reverses the ruling on appeal, yet they also need to prepare for a potential influx of voters on Election Day at their centralized voting centers. In theory, the court could rule the night before the election to reverse the ruling… Consequently, at this point, these 20 election jurisdictions must mobilize for both scenarios.
From a security perspective, this means that there will be additional ballot security challenges at the polling places.
The election jurisdictions have had their budgets approved and they have staffed up for this in-precinct voter registration initiative. These 20 jurisdictions were already under tough challenges to get the kinks worked out before the November election, where turnout could rival 2008. Special election judges and voter registrars are already hired and are now being trained. Their training will have to be altered. The election jurisdiction must now shift this temporary staff to work at centralized voting centers and perhaps be re-assigned to other roles such as election judges or polling place administrators. In the larger counties, this ruling impacts thousands of temporary workers. In Cook County, which includes both Chicago and Suburban Cook County, at least 7,500 temporary workers are involved in the Election Day in-precinct voter registration process.
Software that administers and processes the vote will also need to have last minute code changes. Election machines set up to permit voters to register to vote at the polling place will need to be reset and re-tested. The impact of this decision is huge!
This is an election year that is different in many ways, and it just got more interesting in Illinois! This really demonstrates the importance of having poll watchers present at the polling places to ensure an honest vote.
Judge Der‑Teghiayan states in his opinion:
In the instant action, the Plaintiffs have provided ample evidence showing that the availability of polling place registration as part of the EDR results in a significant increase in voter turnout. That in turn shows that in a low population county without electronic polling books there will be a significant disadvantage under the EDR as it stands in Illinois. The EDR would severely burden their right to vote. Defendants argue that the availability of polling place registration is merely an inconvenience because EDR will still be available in all counties in certain location other than polling places… The polling place registration option is applied in an arbitrary and disparate fashion among low population counties in Illinois and is not the type of “[o]rdinary and widespread” burden that was considered not to be severe… While it may be true that the polling place registration option can assist voter in certain populous counties, that option cannot be provided at the expense of lower population counties, thereby decreasing their political representation in Illinois. The application of this legislation favors the urban citizen and dilutes the vote of the rural citizen…While it is a desirable goal to make the voting process more readily available to United States citizens in Illinois and to encourage them to vote, that goal must apply equally to all United States citizens in Illinois.
Editor's Note: BREAKING NEWS: On September 27th, (after this article was written) a federal judge ruled to block Election Day in-precinct voter registration in Illinois. This will impact so many aspects of the November election. More information to follow.
Will the election in Illinois matter on a national scale? According to a poll released last week by Emerson College for the Presidential race, Illinois is within 6 points in the Trump vs Clinton race, while Senator Mark Kirk is suddenly polling 1 point behind Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth.
Based on the last few General elections, many have doubted that the election in Illinois will be competitive. Defend the Vote has predicted that the November 2016 election will have unique challenges because of new laws and voting equipment, and that many races in this election will be close. The vote in Illinois is very important in the national election. Illinois is considered an important state in the battle to control the majority in the Senate, which could impact who is appointed to the US Supreme Court.
Across Illinois, from the perspective of ballot security, 2016 is a pivotal election cycle because of major changes in election procedures. Voter fraud and mishaps in ballot security are more likely to occur when there are new procedures or new voting system equipment. In this case, in-precinct voter registration on Election Day has brought major changes in voting procedures and has resulted in the addition of electronic poll books across Illinois.
This is the first General Election where we will have Election Day in-precinct voter registration. Are the election authorities ready? Some are, some are not. Election jurisdictions like Chicago are actively encouraging voters to register in advance of the November election because of concerns that they cannot manage a large influx of new voters registering in-precinct on Election Day.
To protect the vote, Illinois requires at least bi-partisan oversight over the voting process. Bi-partisan oversight over each step of the voting process is a significant deterrent to retail voter fraud. Generally, Judges of Elections are appointed based on their party affiliation to oversee all aspects of the voting process. Up until about 60 days before the election, each party can appoint their own judges. Prior to a recent change in the law, this was done by both the county chairman and the ward committeeman. The chairman had the final authority.
A 2016 change in Illinois election law was specifically made to frustrate the GOP's efforts to appoint voting Republican election judges in the inner city wards. This change in the law took the authority from the County Chairman to appoint election judges and placed it in the hands of the ward committeeman. This change only impacts Cook County. This is especially problematic in Chicago because in the inner city, many of the Republican ward committeeman were actually Democrats.
By law, every ward is allowed to have one Republican and Democrat committeeman. In 2016, there are 19 city wards without Republican Committeeman. Most of these vacancies occurred after former GOP Cook County Chairman Aaron Del Mar refused to seat 13 Republican committeemen that had pulled a Democratic ballot in a recent primary. A federal lawsuit ensued. This case was only resolved last week. Del Mar's actions were upheld in federal court. The lateness of this decision came after the 60 day deadline for the political parties to appoint Judges of Elections. Consequently, in 19 wards without a committeeman, Republicans were blocked from appointing Republican Judges of Elections.
Effectively, as a result, Chicago's voting precincts in the inner city will not have bi-partisan election judges to secure the vote. Chicago will have hundreds of precincts where all of the election judges voted Democrat in the 2016 Primary and who were appointed by the Democrat Alderman in that ward. Literally, hundreds of precincts and potentially up to 1/3 of the city vote will not have bi-partisan oversight.
This is not good news for the security of your vote during such an important election year.
Our focus from now through the elections is to work with the Election Judge Association to recruit, place, and train poll watchers to assure that every vote is protected in Chicago. The Election Judge Association will raise the funds to pay poll watchers to help secure the most vulnerable polling places in Chicago.
We are launching our joint operation this week. There are about 300 high risk polling places we would like to cover. We also want to have eyes watching early voting and nursing home voting. Our program is designed to place poll watchers in as many locations as possible!
How do you vote? Does it matter? Does each method of voting provide the same level of security for your vote?
In Illinois, the answer is no.
There are different ways each type of ballot is audited for accuracy in Illinois – and in the case of the paper mail-in ballot, there are no required procedures for auditing your vote.
How do we vote?
We cast ballots electronically with a paper copy of that vote, or on paper ballots that we mark with a pen. We vote in early voting centers through Election Day, in our precinct on Election Day, or by mail-in paper ballots. In addition, there is nursing home voting, which is done by paper-mail-in ballot.
How is the Illinois vote audited?
For ballots cast in-precinct on Election Day – regardless if they are paper or electronic ballots - Illinois law provides for the Illinois State Board of Elections to randomly select 5% of all precincts in each election jurisdiction for an audit. All ballots cast in-precinct on Election Day in these selected precincts are then hand counted to check for accuracy.
In a similar process, the State Board of Elections selects 5% of all voting machines used during early voting in each election jurisdiction. The vote totals reported are compared to a re-count of the ballots cast on these selected early voting machines.
However, if you vote by a mail-in paper ballot, Illinois election code does not mandate any audit of your ballot. In Illinois, historically speaking for a General Election, you might reasonably anticipate 7-8% of the total vote will be conducted by mail-in paper voting.
7-8% of the vote in Illinois is never subject to audit for accuracy!
Mail-in paper ballots are counted at the central counting center for each election jurisdiction. A machine called a ‘Central Counter’ is usually used to process the paper ballots. Illinois election code calls for pre and post tests of the central counters to assure the machines are calibrated and able to correctly tally a controlled set of ballots, but this equipment test is not considered an audit. It is considered a testing of functionality.
Why is an audit necessary?
Legally, mail-in paper ballots should not be counted before the election is closed. Generally speaking, they are counted in ‘batches”. It should be noted that there should be approved Democrat and Republican staff overseeing the process of counting these ballots, but the actual processing of the vast majority of these ballots is done prior to Election Day and is not required by law to be done with two party oversight. Pre-counting processing generally involves checking voter applications and the returned ballots to assure the voter has the same signature, that the applicant is registered to vote, and that they have not already voted.
In earlier investigations, Defend the Vote investigators documented partisan temporary staffers rubber stamping every signature regardless of whether it resembled the signature in the voter record. In a separate investigation, we caught the Chicago Board of Elections staff not bothering to compare signatures on the envelopes containing the voted ballots to the official voter record. In a separate event, our auditors observed staff at the Chicago Board of Elections walking out of the central tabulating room, where mail-in paper ballots were being counted, with the USB device containing the record of the vote tucked in their pockets. There was no verified security over that device which held the results of the vote… a result that will never be audited.
Further, just because bi-partisan staff oversee inputting ballots into a central ballot counter, these individuals do not have any idea if the actual ballots are being properly counted. These individuals are not counting votes and do not see the actual votes on each ballot. They participate in placing ballots into batches and then watching them run through a central counter.
Illinois legislators need to clean up the blatant holes in Illinois election security protocols. However, precautionary steps can be taken before the November elections. Election jurisdictions can review all procedures for storing absentee ballots and applications. They should focus on tightening holes in the system by assuring all mail-in paper ballots are properly secured during storage, and that bi-partisan teams compare signatures on the envelopes of voted ballots with the voter record before approving the ballots for counting.
It would not be difficult to have the State Board of Elections randomly select different ‘batches’ for auditing the mail-in paper ballot. Individual election authorities can also do the same thing! This would provide a method to assure that the vote totals reported from mail-in paper ballots are the same as those cast. It also provides a deterrent to voter fraud when there is at least a chance an offender can get caught!
You can help!
On Friday, August 26th, during a meeting at the Illinois State Board of Elections, the Vice President of Engineering for Dominion Voting, Dr. Eric Coomer*, was asked if it was possible to bypass election systems software and go directly to the data tables that manage systems running elections in Illinois. His response was, “Yes, if they have access.”
Bypassing the election systems software means whoever has access can potentially manipulate the vote without many risks of detection. So the question needs to be asked, who has access to these data tables?
We asked Dr. Coomer that question. Dr. Coomer replied, ‘Vendors, election officials, and others who need to be granted access.’
This is explosive information. Dr. Coomer’s statement is an admission that various vendors, election officials, and others have access to the back end data tables that permit bypassing the operating system’s configuration. It is notable that when someone accesses these systems from a data table, their actions are not logged by the system; thereby making detection much more problematic. This contradicts Dr. Coomer’s assurances that the system is secure.
Our letter to the Illinois State Board of Elections on August 17th specifically requested the Board to answer the following questions:
5) At the ISBE level:
As is typical for the Board members at the Illinois State Board of Elections, with its rich history in treating citizens concerned about election security with disregard and disrespect, the Board refused to say a single word regarding Defend the Vote's concerns expressed during 'public comments'. Only 4 of the 8 members of the Board bothered to stay to hear our comments. To date, the Board has failed to provide answers to the questions asked in our letter.
And that is not all! The Board asked Dr. Coomer if he had any comments. In direct response to the Illinois State Board, Dr. Coomer made the following statement:
“We are constantly assessing different threat models against all of our systems we have fielded across the US and internationally as well. Due to the certification environment that we are in, no we are not allowed to do routine updates without having to go through re-certification efforts, but we do routinely give guidance on how to best secure systems and also going back again, to the final mitigation against all of this is a robust auditing canvasing process which all of our jurisdictions have implemented.”
Dr. Coomer failed to mention that Illinois does not have any auditing procedure for absentee mail-in ballots. In 2014, mail-in paper balloting was 8% of the vote. Across Illinois, many election jurisdictions are working to increase this percentage! Illinois does not require any justification when audits show a vote discrepancy. They simply correct the total votes that are reported to the new totals found in the audit. Further, it is not a blind audit. Auditors know what vote totals were reported before they begin the post-election re-count. So much for Coomer’s robust auditing process…
Dr. Coomer’s statement brings to light a very serious issue all voters should understand. Voting systems must be re-certified each time they make changes to the hardware or software. Recertification is an expensive and time consuming process. What Dr. Coomer told the Board is that Dominion Voting does not go back for recertification of software when threats to their code are discovered. Rather, they rely on post-election audits and providing advice to election jurisdictions about security. I have reviewed recertification documents produced by Dominion for Illinois, and I do not recall any software adjustments for security purposes.
This is the reality of the security of your vote. Software systems that count and record the vote across Illinois and throughout the USA are not updated to address security problems, and even if they were, the software can be completely bypassed by going to the data tables that drive the systems.
I am not an expert on how other states audit the vote after an election. Some do not have a paper audit trail for the electronic vote and some do not have post-election audits at all. I do know that in Illinois, at least 8% of the vote never see any post-election audit. At least that amount of the vote is vulnerable to be manipulated without much chance for detection.
*Dr. Coomer has quite a history in election systems. He held senior management roles with both Sequoia and Smartmatic. Before coming to Dominion Voting, Dr. Coomer was Senior Information Services Manager of Smartmatic Corporation and Vice President of Research and Product Development for Sequoia Voting Systems Inc. Read more about how massive voter irregularities at Sequoia and Smartmatic were alleged and investigated worldwide – which included the 2006 elections in Chicago. Wikipedia.
NOTE: This is the third in a series of articles addressing the security of software code that is used to administer, count, and report votes in elections across the USA. The software code is part of the GEMS and Hart voting systems that are used in all or most of the voting districts in Illinois.*
This article was inspired and based off of the credible research done by Blackboxvoting.org, which has obtained a legitimate copy of the GEMS application. Bev Harris and Bennie Smith have conducted the investigation into voting system software. Blackboxvoting.org has posted Fraction Magic, a 6-part series on the subject, with more EXPLOSIVE information yet to come! Defend the Vote is taking the questions raised in these articles to the election authorities in Illinois.
This is the second in a series of articles addressing the security of software code that is used to administer, count, and report votes in elections across the USA. It is used in all or most of the voting districts in Illinois.
This series is inspired and based off of the credible research done by Blackboxvoting.org which has obtained a legitimate copy of the GEMS application. Bev Harris and Bennie Smith have conducted the investigation into voting system software. Blackboxvoting.org has posted Fraction Magic, a 6-part series on the subject, with more EXPLOSIVE information yet to come! Defend the Vote is taking the questions raised in these articles to the election authorities in Illinois.
Part 1 (Does Software Counting Your Vote Have Embedded "Weighted Vote" Capacity?) responds to the research by Black Box Voting which concluded software code running various election systems used across the USA permits weighted voting. This code is a default setting used to change the value of a vote (1) to a fraction. For instance, a vote for candidate X can be set at .75 while allocating the value 1.25 to candidate Z. Last week we sent a letter to the Illinois State Board of Elections seeking to have questions answered about various software systems used to administer, process, count, and report the vote in Illinois.
We have received a couple of responses from Ken Menzel, the General Counsel of the ISBE and from the Executive Director, Steve Sandvoss.
Ken Menzel responded in an email and made the following statements:
“As to the fractional voting capability in the Dominion system, it is (as I thought) a fairly common capability in voting systems in general. Staff was aware, right off the top of their heads, that it is present in the Dominion, GEMS and Hart systems (i.e. the vast majority of voters use a system capable of fractional vote counting).
The only system it is approved to be used with (i.e. to have the feature enabled when running) is the Hart system. That is because the Hart system is used by Peoria County and there is a local district (if I recall correctly, it is a school district) that remains under an old federal court consent decree whereby cumulative voting is required (the type of voting that used to apply to the old 3 member district state representative system, which we discussed in our phone call).
The feature is not enabled in the Dominion or GEMS systems (and our staff can tell that from the reports generated when we do our system testing).
If you have any further questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Illinois State Board of Elections
100 W. Randolph Street, Suite 14-100
Chicago, Illinois 60601”
This is very important news. Through the General Counsel, the Illinois State Board of Elections has acknowledged that they are aware of the ability for various election software systems to process votes in a fractionalized format. Indeed, his statement is that it is common in voting software and that the fractionalized voting system is enabled in the HART voting system (the ESlate) which is used in both Peoria and Kane County.
Speaking with Bev Harris, she reports she is about to release further documentation that provides concrete examples demonstrating how fractional vote counting software code opens a back door permitting undetectable and systemic voter fraud.
Keep in mind many states that use electronic voting systems do not have a paper trail that records the vote on a paper scroll and is a duplicate record of votes cast electronically.
Illinois lawmakers require a paper trail of all ballots cast. If an electronic machine is used to vote, theoretically, a paper copy of the ballot cast is reviewed by the voter before leaving the election booth. The paper copy is stored on a scroll in the machine and should be an exact copy of the votes cast in the election.
Following each election, ILCS mandates that the State Board of Elections randomly select 5% of all precincts and 5% of early voting machines to be recounted by hand as an audit of the machines in comparison to the vote reported. (ILCS 5/24C-15) To be sure, we fully expect that the ISBE and various election jurisdictions will assert that the 5% post-audit conducted in Illinois would catch this type of software voter fraud.
Illinois 5% audit process is flawed and is not an effective tool for catching this type of fraud. Verified Voting classifies Illinois 5% audit as deficient and in need of improvement. We have personally witnessed some of the problems. In a 5% audit we attended two years ago, we learned, when there was a discrepancy in vote totals, there is no legal mandate to discern why there is a discrepancy. In one instance we witnessed an error of two votes in the recount of one precinct’s paper ballots. When the temporary workers could not figure why there was an error, they simply stopped checking, corrected the official vote total, and went on to the next precinct. A follow-up FOIA investigation revealed that there was no effort by Chicago election authorities to find out why there was a 2 vote discrepancy in this precinct’s returns. Without a legal mandate requiring investigations into vote discrepancies, election authorities don’t have to resolve causative factors for the discrepancy.
In an example from the 2016 primary, a group of observers supporting Bernie Sanders at Chicago’s 5% post-election audit noted multiple instances where workers performing the task of manually re-counting ballots from the early voting scrolls, knew what totals they should have while counting and would simply adjust their counts to match. Further, they claim a discrepancy of nearly 20% in one precinct's vote totals. We have not investigated or verified these particular claims, but note they demonstrates that the current audit process is fatally flawed! In audits we have observed, we verify there is a lack of audit controls that compromises the integrity of the audit. More information about post-election audits can be found on Verified Voting.
General Counsel Menzel stated in his email that “The feature is not enabled in the Dominion or GEMS systems (and our staff can tell that from the reports generated when we do our system testing).” In our follow-up, we will challenge that statement. The ISBE only tests voting systems when there are changes requiring recertification of the voting system. Generally, every 2 years or more. This type of testing does not catch fractional vote fraud which can be enabled in the middle of an election.
The second responses to our letter to the Board came from Steve Sandvoss, Executive Director of the Illinois State Board of Elections. Sandvoss stated that the Chairman of the Board (Charles Scholtz) has refused to schedule this matter on the agenda for the Board meeting this Friday. He has stated that the Chairman will permit us to speak during public comments, and that they will decide how long we are allowed to speak and if they want to take action. By refusing to place our letter in the public record, Sandvoss and Chairman Scholtz block it from the records posted on their official site.
Having been before the sometimes hostile Illinois State Board of Election too many times to count… I view this response as typical! Historically, the Board does not like to deal with the security of the vote in Illinois. They generally do everything they can to limit these types of discussions during their meetings, often refusing to respond as a tactic to minimize and frustrate the public’s concerns.
More to come! Friday is soon to arrive, so we shall soon see more of the Board’s response.
In Part 3, we will reach out to every election district in Illinois to get answers to questions such as who has access to the software that runs their voting equipment.
This is the first in a series of articles addressing the security of software code that is used to administer, count, and report votes in elections across the USA. The software code is part of the GEMS, WinEDS, and Hart voting systems that are used in all or most of the voting districts in Illinois.
This article was inspired and based off of the credible research done by Blackboxvoting.org, which has obtained a legitimate copy of the GEMS application. Bev Harris and Bennie Smith have conducted the investigation into voting system software. Blackboxvoting.org has posted Fraction Magic, a 6-part series on the subject, with more EXPLOSIVE information yet to come! Defend the Vote is taking the questions raised in these articles to the election authorities in Illinois.
What is a fractionalized vote? In the back end of the software, each vote is counted as 1 or as a fraction greater than or less than 1. Someone wishing to change results in an election can quickly alter a vote by allocating different values to voters based on whatever parameter is desired. For instance, in the back end, a vote for candidate X is worth .75, while a vote for candidate Z is worth 1.25.
It has come to our attention that software programs that run various voting systems across the entire state of Illinois have code that allows for votes to be counted as weighted or fractionalized votes. BlackBoxVoting research finds that the feature to count a vote as 1 (a whole number) or as a fraction is set to operate as a default setting for counting and that it can be turned on or off. The time it takes to turn it on or off is literally seconds. The research demonstrates that this weighted vote feature can be utilized without detection.
We want to know what security measures are in place to assure it is NOT being used.
We have delivered this letter to the Illinois State Board of Elections. On Monday, we will report about their responses.
FRACTION MAGIC - PART 2: CONTEXT, BACKGROUND, DEEPER, WORSE
FRACTION MAGIC – PART 3: PROOF OF CODE
FRACTION MAGIC - PART 5: MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE
FRACTION MAGIC – PART 6: EXECUTION CAPACITY
Defend the Vote has studied and reported on the lack of security in the hardware of the Dominion Voting’s WinEDS voting system that is used in both Chicago and Suburban Cook County. We have written about the system that is currently being cannibalized for parts. We broke the story that the system is no longer manufactured because it could not pass the error testing required by the EAC. We filed a HAVA complaint in 2015, which was eventually settled through mediation. Now, new voting machines are being planned in Chicago for the 2018 elections…
Defend the Vote is committed to empowering citizens to protect elections.
Defend the Vote, and its underlying mission, is to support transparent and public elections to assure fair and accurate recording of the vote. We strive to assure that no voter is disenfranchised, that every eligible voter is able to cast a ballot, and that every legitimate ballot cast is accurately tabulated.
Voters cannot presume the accuracy of the vote without adequate means to evaluate voting systems and processes. This includes independent evaluation and testing of procedures put in place by election authorities to assure the integrity of the elections, as well as subsequent compliance with these procedures.
Being a human endeavor, no election will be perfect. But elections can be improved, both to ensure accurate vote totals and to prevent fraud.
This announcement from the Cook County Circuit Court Website:
Chief Judge Evans announces new election commissioner
William J. Kresse will join the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, under an appointment approved today by a majority of Circuit Judges of Cook County.
Chief Cook County Circuit Judge Timothy C. Evans submitted Kresse as the nominee to the judges for the Republican position after interviewing eight qualified applicants.
“This crop of candidates presented an excellent challenge: All of them exhibited the talent and temperament needed to perform the job,” Chief Judge Evans said. “Ultimately, I selected Mr. Kresse because he can hit the ground running in this new role. He possesses a depth of experience with the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, a sharp legal mind, and a passion for fairness and accuracy in our election process.”
Kresse will fill the open Republican seat on the three-member board that resulted due to the death of former Commissioner Richard A. Cowen. Kresse is an attorney and professor at Governors State University. He is a certified public accountant and certified fraud examiner.
He has served as an election central attorney for the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners since 1992 and as a hearing officer for the board since 2010. He has also served as a hearing officer for the Cook County Officers Electoral Board since 2012.
Kresse is also a member of the bar of the following courts: U.S. Supreme Court; U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois; 7thU.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; U.S. Tax Court; U.S. Court of Federal Claims; U.S. Court of Military Appeals; Illinois Supreme Court; and District of Columbia Court of Appeals. His law experience also includes working at Gleason, McGuire & Shreffler, 1991-1992; Ross & Hardies, 1990; law clerk to U.S. District Judge Abraham Lincoln Marovitz, 1987-1990; and Hinshaw & Culbertson, 1985-1987.
“I want to thank Judge Evans not just for selecting me, but for opening up this process the way he has, which I think is a great advancement in selecting a true, independent, fair Board of Elections for the City of Chicago,” Kresse said. “I am committed to seeing that the people of the City of Chicago have a fair, free and open election process, and I will use all of my experience, education and training to see to it that the people get exactly that. Because as citizens of Chicago, they deserve no less.”
The other seven qualified applicants were:
· Thomas M. Battista, attorney at the Law Offices of Thomas M. Battista
· Joseph A. Morris, attorney at Morris & De La Rosa
· Lynne R. Ostfeld, attorney at Lynne R. Ostfeld P.C.
· Lee Roupas, DuPage County Assistant State’s Attorney
· Mary Jo Strusz, attorney and City of Chicago Administrative Law Officer
· A. Christine Svenson, attorney at Svenson Law Offices
· Lori S. Yokoyama, attorney at Yokoyama & Associates
The full announcement is posted on the Court's website.