A Strategy for Managing the Voting Process
The Grand Jury investigated response to the requirements of the “Help America Vote Act and the ounty’s effectiveness in implementing socalled “electronic” or “computerized” voting machines. The investigation revealed that the ounty’s strategy in deploying new voting machines was effective. The overall security, reliability and accuracy of the voting and counting process were found to have met reasonable expectations. In general, the suitability of polling stations and worker training was also found to have been adequate. Public reaction to electronic voting was measured in an exit poll on the ayof the November 2006 election. There were areas that could further improve from the standpoint of efficiency and public confidence and understanding of the process. These areas are identified in this report.
“The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) was passed by Congress in 2002 to provide assistance with the establishment of minimum election administration standards for federal elections. HAVA provides the states with funds, which in part are to be disseminated to the counties to meet the various provisions of the ct. The ct requires:
· Nationwide implementation of provisional voting.
· Voter ID requirements for new voters in federal elections.
· Replacement of punch card and lever voting machines.
· Voting system accessibility for voters with specific needs.
· A centralized statewide voter registration database in each state and territory.
Specialized handling of absentee ballot
applications for military and overseas
· Each state and territory to define what constitutes a valid vote.
As the result of both federal and state legislation, HAVA and California’s Proposition 41 (the Voting Modernization Act), major changes are occurring in the processes by which state and Santa Cruz County voters cast their , as well as in the way votes tabulated. the move to electronic voting machines the former California Secretary of State, Bruce McPherson, said:
With this change specialized computers used directly by voters in casting their and provide for automation of the tabulation of the votes.
Early attempts to use such machines around the country have led to a number of problems—from power outages that made machines unusable, to machines rebooting for unknown reasons mid-day during an election, to difficulties experienced by precinct staff in starting the machines and properly capturing totals.
serious concerns have been raised about the reliability of . In North Carolina it was reported that 16,000 votes were lost (Diebold Machine) Also there were 18,000 voteswhich have not been resolved (ES&S Machine).
Reliability concerns arise both from questions about the workings of the generally proprietarysoftware and the vulnerability of the machines to fraud. raud manipulation of the operating software (hacking) or of physical manipulations, such as swapping out memory cards containing the machine software and/or the vote totals.The new California Secretary of State, Debra Bowen, has recently commissioned a study of the matter. She has formed a team of highly technical members. They will be doing a “op to ottom” review of the various voting systems. This study will include:
This will be the first time that Sequoia Voting Systems has been reviewed by the State of California.
Santa Cruz County evaluated several options Sequoia Systems as the vendor for new voting equipment.Santa Cruz County has been notably cautious in their approach to changing the voting processes, both concerns regarding the reliability of the new systems and because of cost issues. Our county has opted to implement the minimum legally required—which is to have a single ouch creen machine in each precinct location and to allow voters to choose between paper ballots capable of being optically scanned or the ouch creen machine. Although optical scanning had been used in earlier elections, in the last election (November 2006).
The Grand Jury has chosen to review the following issues as relate to the new voting process:
Adequacy of ecurity in the lection rocess.
Performance of the oting achines.
Reliability and ccuracy of the ote allies.
Adequacy of oll orker raining.
Suitability of hysical rrangements.
Adequacy of lection taffing.
Adequacy of ublic ducation of the oting rocess.
Suitability of the urrent trategy to omply with H.
Poll orker .
Grand Jury bservations.
1. The Sequoia Systems (Sequoia) software is proprietary.
2. Sequoia equipment and software goes through extensive testing is required.
3. The ouch creen voting machine uses a voter verified paper trail which is the fundamental protection against software errors in recording the vote, provided there is a good audit procedure following the election.
4. emory ack and esults artridge are external and removable.
5. The ballot information file for each precinct created by the nformation ystems nalystand the rogram oordinators. It was sent electronically to Sequoia the ballot election files. Sequoia also the printed paper ballots. There was a unique file created for each precinctFiles then sent back to the SQL erver which resides in the Information Systems Analyst’s office for updating and testing. Sequoia provided all testing scripts and assisted in the testing this past election.
6. , ballot information was reviewed, modified and approved by the ounty rogram oordinators and Information Systems Analyst until it was ready to be sealed. The Information Systems Analyst, via a emory tick, manually extract the data and load it onto a standalone laptop system. The cartridges for the voting machines written from this system. They sealed and coded. Once sealed, they ready for distribution to the voting machines.
the last election some areas for improvement on
warehouse check-in and out of equipment were noted.
8. All voting equipment and accessories are stored in a secure warehouse within the city of Santa Cruz. The exception to this is the SQL erver, which is used as a network server for the Elections Department, and the 400C (absentee paper ballot counter) which reside in the Information Systems Analystsecured office. All files are backed up and stored in a storage area offsite at the Elections Department warehouse.
9. The esults artridges for the ouch creen and emory acks for the scanners are created on a stand-alone computer at the warehouse. They are then loaded and sealed into the appropriate precinct equipment and stored until ready to be shipped to the olling lace
10. The warehouse has an alarm system, provided by First Alarm. An access card is required in order to enter. The Information Systems Analyst, Department Information Systems Specialist and the Election Officer have the First Alarm access code.
A large door is locked from the inside. All
equipment is within a caged area of the warehouse with access.
12. The assigned person at each precinct picks up the voting equipment from the warehouse the day before the election. The cartridges are already in place and sealed. A oll orker takes home. On lection day, they take to the polling place and set it up.
13. At the close of the polls, two designated persons break the seals on the esults artridge the emory ack and remove them from the machines. Cartridges and seals are put in a sealable orange bag. The printer is removed from the ouch creen machine for transport. The orange bag and printer are prepared by an nspector and a designated person. These items are taken to the election department, where the bags are checked, verified, and stored in the Information Systems Analyst office until ready to tally. The person who checked out the equipment and brought it to the polling site is also responsible for taking it back to the ounty uilding. All voting equipment is returned to the warehouse for storage.
14. , the above process was reviewed by election staff. It was found that there were delays in equipment check-in.
issue of fire protection was not
Since poll sites are public
buildings, it was assumed that the fire protection available at the poll site
Sequoia Systems is a stateapproved vendor for the new voting equipment. They were chosen by Santa Cruz County to provide the voting equipment.
18. The ouch creen voting machine has a printer which records the vote. It has 300 f of paper. During the last election, the paper often jam.
19. During th election, two or three scanners failed and at least 12 printers jammed. the failed scanners, it was determined that they probably had been damaged in transport.
The 400C Ballot Counter Machine reads the ballots very
quicklyowever the catch
is not large enough to hold all of the ballots. result
ballots can get bent or eject onto the
The esults artridge plugs into ouch creen equipment. It for capturing the votes as they are input by the voter. This artridge cannot be removed without breaking a seal.
The emory ack plugs into ptical canner. It for capturing the votes as they are input the ballot. The emory ack cannot be removed without breaking a seal.
Firmware (software imbedded in the machine) operates the machines. The Secretary of State demands the firmware be at a specific level (version). It cannot be changed after 60 days prior to election. A test is run to ensure the firmware level (version) is correct.
ogic and ccuracy esting is for validating the accuracy and reliability of vote security.
Following a written procedure the designated oll orker and one other oll orker break the outer seal and assist the first voter to verify that the “total votes” displayed is zero. sign an official document verifying the vote count zero.
On 10 of machines a random sample with full paper recount is taken to check that machines are tallying correctly.
ter the election, Capitola a recount. Each precinct was reconciled separately. With approximately 3000 votes to count, it came out to within one vote of the machine count. The final election results did not change.
the election, a number of absentee ballots had to be redone due to the pen used.
.An organized training plan with documentation was provided for the oll orkers and nspectors. One person at each polling site was trained and certified to use the machines. There were “rovers” who traveled between polling sites to check on machines and supplies.
county staff did a lot of onthejob training while concurrently preparing for the election because the equipment arrived late.
The training documentation from the vendor had to be completely redone because it had to be customized to the design of Santa Cruz County election model.
In the future, the Elections Department plans to create a professional DVD to supplement oll orker training.
Poll orkers have documentation binder which flip charts and checklists. Also they are trained how to deal with the press and observers.
indicated they wanted more “handson training” with the machinesn
addition to having more poll workers trained on the equipment. These machines
are and if something goes wrong don’t know what to do. See Poll
Worker Survey in the Appendix for more information.
37. The physical arrangement of the oll was similar to past elections. This contributed to a stable atmosphere.
38. The touch screen machine was positioned with the back of the machine to the wall. This placement meant that the voter’s selections could be seen by others standing nearby.
39. The county was proactive in making the ouch creen wheel chair accessible by re-engineering the support legs. In addition they custom designed carrying bags for the canner.
shared machinescaused .
42. In the startup process for the new voting system, the Department Information Systems Specialist, Elections Officer, Assistant County Clerk and the Information Systems Analyst were trained first, and then they were able to provide training for others. Sometimes toccurred simultaneous with the installation
staffing for the oll was conducted
in the same manner as previous elections. Polling lace
staff is typically temporary help from the community. The supervisor
relied upon to pick up the equipment at the warehouse the day before the
election, keep it at their house overnight and take it to the
in the morning for set up
44. In an effort to educate the public, thousands of voter pamphlets to the public US ail. The department personnel also gave speeches and distributed educational material at local public schools, bookstores, the Mall, and the ounty air. edia television and public radio interviews and press releases.
45. Despite the education campaign, some voters were confused as to how to mark their ballots. For example, some voters who used the paper ballots did not understand how to connect the arrows to the candidate or issue they were voting on.
general, voters who used the touch screen machine seemed unaware of the
importance of verifying their votes by comparing them with the compilation of
their ballot that was visible through a window on the machine.
determined that there would be one ouch creen at each polling place. The new scanner would be the main voting machine. They reported that this choice proved to be a good decision. Not only did it provide the necessary accommodations, but also ensured the reliability of the voting process.Having a mixture of technologies ensure that votes c be cast in event of failures. For example, if the ouch creen printer jam, voter ha an option to use .
49. On election day, the Grand Jury conducted a twopart oll orker survey and collected 104 surveys for analysis. The first part of the survey covered the oll orker raining (see Training) and the second part was critique of process.While most were extremely positive as to the work of the Elections Department, they made substantive recommendations for continued of the elections process including the use and placement of the equipment.
51. Members of the Grand Jury made general observations while conducting the xit oter and oll orker’ urveys. They the failure of some equipment and the solutions by the oll orkers.[See Appendix for the survey.]
It is a matter of national priority to have a transparent electronic process and accurate election results.
The County Elections Department has done a good job of securing the data. provided traceable seals, “tandlone” cartridge creation and storage, extensive testing, detailed procedures and complete systems backup.
3. The ouch creen oting achine adopted by the county uses a voterverified paper trail which provides verifiable voting results and a method for testing. This combined with a good audit procedure ensures voting accuracy.
4. election, Sequoia Systems not only supplied the test cases, but also assisted in the testing. here was no controlled testing.
5. The Elections Department warehouse is Besides being badge access controlled, the First Alarm Security System.
7. All equipment had problems. Printers jammed, and two or three canners failed. roactive planning helped mitigate these problems.
8. The 400C Ballot Countercounted the votes quickly,
9. The Elections Department creat written procedures for all aspects of the election process and identif areas of improvement after the election.oll orkers were supplied with good procedures to do their job
10. The ouch creen set up provided adequate wheel chair access. The Elections Department proactive re-engineer the machine support legs to accommodate a wheel chair. he ouch creen some co-located precincts shared a ouch creen.
11. Santa Cruz County is not flat and uses many older buildings as olling itesounty regulations
12. he Elections Department was stretched very thin in training for the new voting system. Due to this shortage of staff, Even though the oll orkers were trained to advise voters that the ouch creen was available for their use, most workers presented the paper ballot as the only option
13. Even though voters were informed about the new rocess, a good understanding of . ouch creen was new
15. this change in the voting systemsing the new technology did in fact, take longer, cost more and required more staff and testing.
16. The strategy to put just one ouch creen at each olling lace proved to be a good one. It satisfied the requirements for provid more current technology for The mixture of technology also provided backup. If the printer or other equipment had a problem, had another way to cast vote
1. The Elections Department should continue security, ensuring the integrity.
2. Because this was the first year using the new electronic voting system, the Elections Department relied heavily upon the vendor for testing and support. he Election Department needs to create own .
3. The use of the verifiable paper trail on the ouch creen oting machine has successful. Pubic awareness of this method of verification should be stressed in the future.
The oll orkers procedures for
ensuring the security of the datatraceable seals on the
for handling the seals. If a seal is found broken on a machine, that machine
should not be used. In addition, all machines which ha a broken
seal at the end of the day, should undergo a full manual count.
5. The Elections should work with the vendor to solve the problems
6. Elections Department should set up procedures for auditing the absentee ballots.
7. training proved difficult to provide with a limited staff and t is important to have most oll orkers trained on the machinesstaffing should be so that the management is not stretched too far bythe process also training staff and temporary employees.
8. . The side panels should also be larger for privacy in voting.
9. precinct have its own ouch creen in the future.
10. he “ledger” size of the paper ballots was too large to fit comfortably in the old olling of the paper
11. he practice of storing the equipment at the olling lace upervisor house overnight be identified far in advancefor additional training on security procedures and vulnerability of the equipment.
12. The Elections should plan to “advertising” campaign for future elections. focus on educating the voters to verify the paper trail when using the ouch creen equipment
Since a number of oll orkers
dropped out the night before and morning of lection ay,
requiring substitutes that were not trained, pool of
trained alternate oll orkers
be available on to
substitute incase of oll orker
1. The Elections Department has provided a secure warehouse to protect the equipment and store the data. They have done an excellent job with physical security.
2. ll of the new voting equipment had operational problems mixed equipment allowed for backup machine problems. Except for the impaired approach mitigated most problems
3. the votes were correctly. Procedures were put in place to ensure a starting count of zero, traceable seals, verifiable paper trail and a 10 manual count.
4. The Election Department provided all workers with good procedures to do their jobs. Written procedures will ensure the smooth operations of future elections.
5. The Elections Department proactive in making the environment available for the .
just one ouch creen at each
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· County Clerk and Election Department staff
· Department Information Systems Specialist
· Information Systems Anyaly6st
· Assistant County Clerk
Electronic Voting Expert
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