- Permission to reprint, excerpt, and distribute granted.
- Complete, Concise Tool Kit booklet:
- TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Top 5 things you can do
- 1. Get involvedpg 5-8
- 2. Hook up with experienced groupspg 9
- Freedom of Information Tipspg 10-11
- 3. Protect & defend deceptive practicespg 12-24
- 4. Protect & defend voter listspg 25-37
- 5. VOTING MACHINES:
- Protect & defend vote countspg 38-71
- HERE ARE SOME EXCERPTS:
- (much more here: http://www.blackboxvoting.org/toolkit.pdf
- (comment section here: http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/1954/76548.html
- #1 GET INVOLVED
- In the end, this isn't about getting your favorite presidential
candidate elected. This is about more permanent solutions: getting durable,
ongoing citizen-based controls to oversee all elections. Elections ultimately
control your daily life: your property rights, roads, the public safety,
the justice system, and ultimately, the economy, your freedom, and your
- FREEDOM OF INFORMATION TIPS
- All states have open records laws. You have the right
to see any document (with a limited number of exceptions). Part of every
public official's job is providing public records. They know it, they're
used to it, there's nothing confrontational about asking to see a record,
people do it all the time. Here is a wonderful compendium of summarized
public records laws for each state:
- Here is a useful site to generate professional-looking
- It helps to see examples. You can find hundreds of actual
public records requests, including the documents provided in response to
them and the occasional back-and-forth between requestor and public officials,
by going to <http://www.blackboxvoting.org>http://www.blackboxvoting.org.
Use the search box at the top of the home page. Enter "records request"
and it will find pages with examples for you.
- #3 PROTECT AND DEFEND AGAINST DECEPTIVE PRACTICES
- WATCH FOR: Last minute changes, polling place consolidation,
confusing ballot design, shorting voting machines, malfunctioning machines,
electronic poll book problems, supplies missing, not enough election workers,
provisional ballot roadblocks, deceptive phone calls / fliers, deceptive
ballot configurations, race left off some ballots, deceptive translations,
snoop-friendly ballots, improper absentee ballot / envelope design, incorrect
mail ballot insertions / delivery problems, cheat peeks
- Part of election protection is knowing what to watch
for. These things happen. The first time you see it, you can't quite believe
it. That disbelief prevents citizens from taking crucial, immediate action.
Elections are time sensitive. Keep your eyes wide open, vow to respond
quickly and effectively.
- DON'T WAIT UNTIL LAST MINUTE TO CHECK YOUR POLLING PLACE.
- A Santa Clara County, California man was told by his
online polling place finder that his address was in Gibbon, Iowa. If he
had checked just as he was running out the door to vote, he would have
experienced a delay.
- During the 2008 primary, Black Box Voting tested the
Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania Web site "polling place-finder"
using the addresses on our own donor list. Dozens of valid addresses showed
a polling place not found message.
- Local newspapers often print polling place locations,
and you can call your local elections division. Don't wait till the last
minute, and before heading out the door, double-check the location of your
polling place and help others find theirs.
- DECEPTIVE TRANSLATIONS
- Areas with substantial non-English speaking populations
are required to provide voter information in appropriate languages. In
one California location, the Spanish language voter information provided
the wrong date for an election. In a New Mexico election, the Spanish description
of a ballot item was so misleading that new ballots had to be mailed, leading
to confusion over which ballot to use. In a Connecticut election, instructions
which in English said "Vote for any two" said, in Spanish: "Vote
for any OF the two", a translation which will literally cut votes
in half for Spanish language voters.
- It's important for language minority advocacy groups
to review the non-English ballots, voter pamphlets and other election materials
as far in advance of the election as possible. If you find a deceptive
translation, find out who is responsible for checking translations to make
sure they are accurate and what firm did the translation. Demand correction
and report to all stakeholders and advocacy groups, including the appropriate
ethnic advocacy groups.
- CHEAT PEEKS
- Early and absentee voting provide opportunities for "Cheat
peeks" illegal peeks at results before Election Day.
- In Pima County, Arizona audit logs show that early results
were run in a controversial election. Candidates spend heavily on pre-election
polling. Political polls sample a few hundred registered voters, who hopefully
provide truthful answers to questions designed to elicit how they really
will vote. Imagine now that one candidate (but not the other) gets access
to something much more valuable: not hundreds, but tens of thousands of
voters; not answers that are probably truthful, but the actual vote data.
- No one insider or outsider should scan a
single ballot before the end of Election Day. Some state laws specify that
the ballots can be run through the tabulator if no one looks at the results
(Hah!) and in Oregon, apparently, "insiders" can look if they
don't tell. (Hah!)
- · GET AUDIT LOGS: Tabulator audit logs will show
the cheat peeks, although insiders can alter the audit logs. You can request
copies of the audit logs daily. If the logs themselves have not been tampered
with, you will find an evidence trail showing when results reports were
- #4: PROTECT AND DEFEND VOTER LISTS
- HELP WITH: Register people to vote, confirm registration,
save evidence, get photo ID;
- WATCH FOR: Slowdowns or crashes in statewide voter registration
databases, racial profiling, failure to enter new or updated registrations
into the database timely, names left off list (no explanation), category
switching, incorrect online feedback, problems with hyphenated names &
typos, impossible numbers;
- ADVANCED TOOLS: Statistics, voter list tracking
- Register people to vote. Help people confirm that they
are registered as an "active voter" (see distinctions between
active, inactive, pending and cancelled). Get voters on "inactive"
status reactivated. Save communications from the elections office as evidence.
Help people get photo ID. Urge everyone to bring it to the polling place,
whether or not the state requires it.
- BUT IT'S NOT GOING TO BE ENOUGH TO REGISTER VOTERS AND
HELP THEM VOTE. We already know that systematic voter disenfranchisement
has been part of the game plan in the past. This year let's get off the
defense and play some offense, and don't expect the old playbook to be
repeated tit for tat.
- You may have heard about voter list purging. Figures
vary, but estimates of the number of voters wrongfully purged from 2000
Florida voter rolls range from 50,000 to over 90,000. Wrongfully purged
voters were disproportionately Black. These eligible voters were not allowed
to vote at all.
- In 2008 for the first time, all 50 states will be using
new statewide computerized voter registration databases. Most of what we're
going to see in 2008 will not be called "purging." This year,
we're going to find voter disenfranchisement in the statewide voter lists,
especially in the "PENDING" area (new voter registrations not
entered into the system, and registrations stuck in "pending"
status); "CHANGE CATEGORIES," as voters are switched from one
voter registration status to another, registrations are updated, and in
TYPOS AND DATABASE QUIRKS that make database searches fail...
- This year instead of 50-90,000 voters purged, we are
looking at the potential to see FIVE TO 10 MILLION voter registrations
stalled, changed, hit with typos or miscategorized.
- These are exceptionally unwieldy problems and it is difficult
to come up with meaningful citizen oversight actions, but with over 100
million voters on these new computerized lists, we need to try.
- Black Box Voting received eye witness reports from three
large counties in 2004 indicating that thousands of registrations were
not entered before the election (even though election officials claimed
they were). Insiders told us this was due to staffing shortages and/or
the refusal of county officials to pay for overtime or temporary help.
Here are excerpts from an e-mail received by Black Box Voting from one
of the temporary employees hired to do this:
- "This year I answered the call to help the elections
division enter all of the new registrations. It is my understanding that
there was an entire warehouse of them somewhere and they were planning
to hire a hundred people to enter them. Here is what happened:
- The training began. The person in charge of that was
on pain medication and my training turned out to be, well, totally wrong.
I was taught to enter a specific code for certain kinds of registrations
but sure enough, within a day we were having an "emergency" meeting
about that particular code. She apologized for teaching the code incorrectly
and we all moved on. We received no training materials, after the apology
for teaching the code wrong we were given a very shoddy word document explaining
a few things. There is no written manual.
- The registration updates were about 3 months behind.
We basically lied about when they were entered. If the form was submitted
on say, the 1st of November, we were supposed to put that date in - even
though I was doing it on the 4th of February ...
- This above report illustrates something very important:
NOT ALL VOTER REGISTRATION CARDS WERE ENTERED INTO THE SYSTEM AT ALL, UNTIL
MONTHS LATER! Voters who were not entered in the database may be stripped
of even their provisional ballot. We have seen boxes and boxes of "to
be entered" cards after deadlines for getting them entered into the
database. It is inconceivable that all these were sorted through to determine
whether their provisional ballot should count.
- - Will updates and input to the voter registration database
be done by in-house staff, overtime, or temporary employees?
- - What formula was used to project voter registration
update & input needs?
- - Has the budget been approved for this?
- - What tracking and reporting system is available for
internal controls and public oversight?
- You can make an appointment and ask for a tour. Ask them
to walk you through (literally) the process for entering and updating voter
registrations.Ask about internal controls. Ask what tracking reports will
be. Don't believe everything you hear.
- The best way to get the real story is to develop a relationship
with a clerk or temporary employee tasked with entering the information.
Ask how it's really going.
- #5 VOTING MACHINES:
- PROTECT AND DEFEND THE VOTE COUNTS
- PROCEDURAL IMPROVEMENTS: Transparency Project, Input
- IDENTIFY PROBLEM LOCATIONS: History of indictments, missing
internal control forms, public records obstruction, weak management, observation
obstruction; past election problems; ELECTION PHASES: Pre-election; Early
voting & absentee periods; Election Day; Election Night; Canvassing
- ADVANCED TOOLS: Voting machine examinations, Web snapshot
tools, poll tape/central tabulation comparison, citizen ballot inspection
audit, voting machine audit items
- All computerized voting machines, as currently implemented,
count votes in secret, and all election computers are under the control
of administrators and programmers. All computers do what they are told
to do by their administrators and programmers.
- This is the core problem with voting machines.
- Using these new systems, the citizenry has inadvertently
ceded ultimate control over to government insiders and the vendors they
- DEMOCRATIC ELECTIONS MUST:
- (a) Give the public full access to Freedom of Information
on every aspect of the election.
- (b) Count all votes in public (while maintaining individual
- (c) Allow the public to see for themselves that the votes
being counted are the original votes, not counterfeit or substitute votes.
"Chain of custody" must always be public.
- IN THE NOVEMBER 2008 ELECTION:
- - Your right to sovereignty over your government will
not be honored.
- - 99 percent of the votes will be counted in secret on
computers controlled by government insiders and vendors.
- - Your right to Freedom of Information will not be honored.
- - You will be unable to ascertain that chain of custody
- - It's too late to resolve these problems for 2008.
- - It's not too late for partial solutions.
- - It's not too late to collect important circumstantial
evidence to assess the accuracy of the election.
- Not a good situation. Despite passionate and always underfunded
efforts by citizens for several years to get these issues addressed, we're
up against it again in 2008. It's too late for new legislation or major
changes. Let's work with what we have:
- More on Procedural improvements, see pg 41-42 in Tool
- - Precinct-based public hand counts
- - Transparency Projects
- - Input to Output
- IDENTIFY PROBLEM LOCATIONS FOR EXTRA SCRUTINY:
- - History of indictments
- - Missing internal control forms
- - Public records obstruction
- - Weak management or poor quality controls
- - Observation obstruction
- - Past election problems
- In the weeks leading up to the election, help gather
information to predict problem locations. Let's treat these problem locations
to extra scrutiny.
- You can get an idea for past vote-counting problems by
doing a news search, looking for incident reports filed by citizens, and
by reading the text of any election contest lawsuits in the location you
want to monitor. You can find incident reports by vendor and also by state
and county (and/or municipality) at blackboxvoting.org and VotersUnite.org.
If you Google "election incident reports" you can locate databases
of reported incidents from 2004 and 2006.
- PRE-ELECTION PHASE
- Indictments, guilty pleas, convictions: Because computerized
vote-counting is controlled by insiders, any locations with a history of
corruption in key local government positions are particularly at risk for
computerized vote-counting fraud. Key positions include county supervisors
and commissioners (who often appoint elections officials); sheriffs, judges,
county auditors and county clerks.
- "Facts. Facts. Facts. Brick by brick we will build
American democracy better than the Founders ever imagined possible."
- Nancy Tobi, Election Defense Alliance
- PUBLIC RECORDS: You can request to inspect or get copies
of election-related records, including: voter complaints, poll worker incident
reports, telephone Election Day support logs, and "rover" or
technician logs. You can find many examples of these requests and responses
in the state and county/municipality section of blackboxvoting.org.
- BOOKKEEPING & RECONCILIATIONS: Vote counting is a
form of bookkeeping. Properly run elections are accompanied by report forms
showing how many voters signed in, how many ballots were provided, how
many were cast, spoiled, and uncast. You will be surprised how often the
numbers don't add up! Sometimes poll workers explain the discrepancies,
but sometimes the numbers are off by hundreds with no explanation.
- INTERNAL CONTROL FORMS: Some locations will report that
they have had no problems, when in fact they don't provide any forms to
poll workers to log the problems. If you ask to look at a blank copy of
each form for poll workers, and also forms for tracking voting machines,
seals, peripheral equipment, telephone reports, and technician visits you'll
get a good idea as to whether adequate control systems are even being used.
Filled-out copies will show how well they manage quality. This will help
predict which locations are most likely to experience problems or fraud
- TAMPERING SYMPTOMS:
- - Voting machines could not "close" properly
- - Cartridge would not read
- - Tabulators failed to read some memory cards so technicians
had to "extract the data"
- - Some cartridges or memory cards were temporarily misplaced
- - "We're not sure why votes were incorrect"
- - "The vendor is looking into it for us"
- - Voting machines had to be replaced during the election
due to malfunctions
- - Broken or mismatched seals
- - Calibration problem
- - Counter didn't increment
- - Machine would not produce a "zero report"
before votes cast
- - Electronic poll book said voter had already voted absentee,
voter says no
- OBSTRUCTIVE VS. COOPERATIVE: You can get a good idea
how responsive each location is to public oversight by submitting a very
simple one-item public records request and observing response. Are they
prompt, complete, reasonably priced? Or do they inflate response timelines,
price gouge, and obstruct?
- Find out if the public (not just "politically appointed
observers") is allowed to view the vote counting after the polls close.
Find out if videotaping is allowed.
- In most cases you'll find that local and state officials
are more than willing to work on implementing solutions. If you spot significant
problems or run into obstructive public officials, you may want to enlist
the help of the voting rights committees for your political party, report
to election protection groups, and build public awareness through the media.
Focus on prevention. Try to spot problems ahead of time so improvements
can be achieved before November elections.
- FOR PERSONALIZED ADVICE, MENTORING AND INPUT
- Contact citizen empowerment and volunteer helpers at
Black Box Voting, Election Defense Alliance, or a local election protection
group. You can ask questions by e-mail: <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>email@example.com
- You may also get support and direction from your preferred political
party, and you can help connect your favorite candidates and party with
election integrity organizations.
- Get involved. Your election protection actions this year
will be part of returning control over election processes to the people
who own the government.
- "You are not required to complete the task, yet
you are not free to withdraw from it." Rabbi Tarfon
- More: http://www.blackboxvoting.org/toolkit.pdf
- If you would like to receive a printed copy of TOOL KIT
2008 send a request by e-mail with your name and mailing address. Printed
pocket Tool Kit 2008 booklets will be mailed in August.
- * * * * *
- Black Box Voting is a national nonpartisan, nonprofit
elections watchdog group working to improve public controls in our elections.
- More: http://www.BlackBoxVoting.org
- TO DONATE:http://www.blackboxvoting.org/donate.html
- To mail:
- Black Box Voting
- 330 SW 43rd St Suite K
- PMB 547
- Renton WA 98057