Unlawfulness in Cook County Elections- The Facts

March 22, 2012 @ One Comment

 

Sharon Meroni

Security is put in place to provide a tamper resistant environment. Security does not ensure fraud doesn’t take place, it provides mechanisms for fraud to be prevented through fear of detection; it provides an opportunity to stop fraud while in progress and retroactively, through reverse engineering various aspects of the voting processes. When security is ignored how can the election authority certify the count of any election? They will say, ‘this is the vote’; but proving it is done through affirming a lack of evidence of fraud. Evidence they frustrate the production of because they don’t follow the laws designed to protect the vote they safeguard!

That is the problem in a nut shell.

Before moving into the gist of the security issues discovered in Cook County please allow me to affirm two points:

1) Most Judges do the best job they can, and they care about that job. Not that the money doesn’t help, but many serve with a feeling of duty. There is often a great interaction between the judges, regardless of Party affiliation. Sometimes it is a very stressful job, other times it is not. Lastly, election judges are required to act according to the procedures.

2) Likewise with election authorities. Cook County needs to get real about security, as does the State of Illinois and likely other states too. This said, our elected County Clerks are treasures to be valued while we double check the security at our polls. The truth is, the key to ballot integrity is to keep your vote local as much as possible. Illinois is pressuring for voting centers and centralized elections. This is backwards movement from a security perspective.

Illinois provides some very detailed specifications relating to the security of the ballot. The sections in Illinois Statues are located in the ILCS code, 10 ILCS 5/. There are at least 7 sections of Illinois law at play here, all within the overall code.

View Entire Act
Article 15 – Ballot Boxes And Poll Books
Article 16 – Ballots
Article 17 – Conduct of Elections and Making Returns
Article 24 – Voting Machines
Article 24A – Electronic, Mechanical Or Electric Voting Systems
Article 24B – Electronic, Mechanical Or Electric Voting Systems With Precinct Tabulation Optical Scan Technology Capability
Article 24C – Direct Recording Electronic Voting Systems

When you work with Illinois election code, keep in mind it was written at different times; some aspects are newer and override others. It’s a lot of detail. I am not a lawyer and have not investigated defining court precedence because it doesn’t really apply at this level. We are not in court.

All of the legal bodies I challenged to act have the power and responsibility to keep the ballot secure. This power and responsibility doesn’t end because we are in the 11th hour.

The information addresses a comparison of Illinois law with Cook County election procedures. Defend the Vote has discovered some glaring violations and will likely find more. We will develop a thread about Cook County to make it easy to follow the developments. There are multiple seal issues which will be addressed later.

Violation 1: Chain of Custody of Equipment Keys: “Key Sleepovers.”
Key Sleepovers is when keys securing election equipment are given to election judges to take home before Election Day. In Illinois, these keys must have a strict chain of custody. The election equipment is stored outside the eyes of your election authority. Securing the integrity of the contents is primal to the security of the vote.

Illinois Law does not specify how the equipment is stored at or shipped to precincts. It specifies the security of the equipment as a whole; which presumably allows for election equipment to be securely stored in a variety of settings. Access to election equipment at the precinct level is controlled by the polling place facility; Illinois doesn’t track it beyond that. Illinois tracks the locks and seals protecting the equipment. If this is not done, the Illinois Statue states the poll cannot open because all integrity of the vote is at risk.

This is not a nuisance law. It is an important key to the integrity of your ballot.

The law requires the in-precinct election team to communicate with the election authority to verify election materials are secure.

No precinct election official shall break the seal of such envelope except in the presence of all members of the precinct election board, and such envelope shall not be opened until it shall have been examined by each member of the precinct election board to see that it has not been previously opened. Such envelope shall not be opened until it shall have been found that the numbers and records recorded thereon are correct and agree in every respect with the numbers and records as shown on the machine. (from Ch. 46, par. 24-13)
And
… that the machine is otherwise in perfect order and they shall compare and record the number on the metal seal with which the voting machine is sealed, with the number furnished them as recorded on the envelope containing the keys, by the election authority, and if the number on the seal and the number on the protective counter do not agree with the numbers supplied to them, they shall not open the polls, (from Ch. 46, par. 24-13

Keys secure the “VSC” (Voter Supply Carrier). These keys are the ONLY line of security on the VSC once it is packed with election equipment at the warehouse and shipped to the precincts. In Cook County, the VSC is not sealed. It is locked with a key that is not specific to the unit. It is a universal key that can open more than one VSC located within the same polling place and elsewhere. The key can be reproduced at a locksmith.

Violation 2 and 3: Ballot Boxes: Famous to Illinois law is the official act before any poll opens: publically displaying the empty ballot box, sealing it, and then declaring the polls as open. This is not an arcane tradition or one to be excused away because of ‘hurried” election judges. Just before opening the polls, we look in the empty ballot box as a public declaration affirming the very integrity of the ballot! The pollwatcher technically represents the public’s eyes.

In this training video, Equipment Manager Training Video (towards the beginning) Cook County instructors display how to set up the ballot boxes the night before elections open. This instruction is repeated in the two instructions manuals. (Equipment Manager Handbook and Election Judge Manual)

Has David Orr’s office instructed equipment managers to act unlawfully? They might claim: “Well, if a pollwatcher wants to look in the ballot box, they can.” But this response does not address the legal point. The instructions do not provide seal tracking processes for pollwatchers who want to see the box in the morning, nor authorize election judges that they can look inside after sealing, an act prohibited in other sections of the guide. This creates unnecessary conflict in the polling place.

But more importantly from a process perspective, the REAL issue is that the 5 judges are REQUIRED by law to view the box the day of elections, not the day before. “The ballot boxes shall be publicly opened and exhibited”. The public does not arrive until Tuesday morning. Shall be is not discretionary.

Perhaps the question is … When did David Orr change this law? Otherwise, we might assume that David Orr either has no knowledge of or regard for Illinois election law when he instructs election judges to act unlawfully.

Sec. 17-3. (a) Before voting begins, the ballot box shall be publicly opened and exhibited, and the judges shall see that no ballot is in such box; after which the box shall be locked and the key delivered to one of the judges, and shall not be again opened until the close of the polls. This paragraph (a) applies whenever permanent type ballot boxes are used, and does not apply when non-permanent type ballot boxes are used in accordance with section 15-1, paragraph (b).
(b) When non-permanent type ballot boxes are used in accordance with section 15-1, paragraph (b), prior to the commencement of voting and before any ballots are deposited therein, the judges shall examine each sealed ballot box, show it to those present and insure that it is in fact sealed and empty; the sealed slot shall be broken open before those present and the box inspected to insure that it is empty and such ballot box shall not be removed from public view from the time it is so inspected until after the close of the polls. The sealed opening on the side of the box shall not be unsealed or opened until after the close of the polls. (10 ILCS 5/17-3) (from Ch. 46, par. 17-3)

Sec. 24-8. Location of voting machines; time allowed for voting; pollwatchers. Pollwatchers as provided by law shall be permitted to carefully check the voting machine and its protective devices, and ballot labels and registering counters, before the polls may be declared open on election morning, and they shall be permitted to remain in the polling place at all times throughout the conduct of the election if desired, and after the close of the polls, to be present and check the protective devices and registering counters of each voting machine, and the official return sheets thereof.

Violation 4: Seals: The Cook County Elections does not seal or cross check numbers, they record numbers on a “new record of seal form.” So what good is this? The law clearly instructs this verification must be performed before the polls open, not later.

… that the machine is otherwise in perfect order and they shall compare and record the number on the metal seal with which the voting machine is sealed, with the number furnished them as recorded on the envelope containing the keys, by the election authority, and if the number on the seal and the number on the protective counter do not agree with the numbers supplied to them, they shall not open the polls, (10 ILCS 5/24-13) (from Ch. 46, par. 24-13)

Violation 5: Who picks the person to return equipment? According to Illinois law, the election judge team does. According to David Orr, he does. Why is this a violation of security? The somewhat random act of judges picking amongst themselves for this important role adds a layer of security. Administratively for David Orr, it may be easiest to empower the equipment manager to carry the ballots to the receiving station; they are the most highly trained judge. But it is not a lawful act by Cook County because the Illinois Statue states “shall”.

The precinct judges of election shall select a bi-partisan team of 2 judges, Sec. 24A-10.1.

Violation 6: Un-Sealed Ballots: Illinois law is very consistent that voted ballots must be separately sealed before being sent to the processing centers. Voted ballots are not sealed in a filament such that they can be removed from the Blue canvas bag without disrupting the seal. The ballots are not sealed or signed at all. The container is sealed. This means that ballots in Cook County are not afforded the same protections as ballots across the rest of Illinois. This one really shocked me. How does Orr’s office justify this?

however, that such container must first be sealed by the election judges with filament tape provided for such purpose which shall be wrapped around the container lengthwise and crosswise, at least twice each way, in such manner that the ballots cannot be removed from such container without breaking the seal and filament tape and disturbing any signatures affixed by the election judges to the container. (10 ILCS Sec. 24A-10.1, 10 ILCS 5/24B-10.1, and 10 ILCS 5/24B-15.01)

Violation 7: Ballot Security: Election Judges do not sign or affix signatures to the ballots in the Blue Transport Bag

…. however, that such container must first be sealed by the election judges with filament tape provided for such purpose which shall be wrapped around the container lengthwise and crosswise, at least twice each way, in such manner that the ballots cannot be removed from such container without breaking the seal and filament tape and disturbing any signatures affixed by the election judges to the container. (10 ILCS 5/24A-10.1) (from Ch. 46, par. 24A-10.1)

Violation 8: ALL Ballots SHALL NOT BE ACCEPTED IF PROCEDURES ARE NOT FOLLOWED

“Ballots returned to the office of the election authority are not signed and sealed as required by law shall not be accepted by the election authority until the judges returning the ballots make and sign the necessary corrections.” 10 ILCS 5/24A-10.1) (from Ch. 46, par. 24A-10.1 and Sec. 24B-10.1).

Violation 9: By failing to perform required measures to secure the ballot equipment, Cook County fails to ensure the security and integrity of the system.

Tabulating Votes; Direction; Presence of Public; Computer Operator’s Log and Canvass. The procedure for tabulating the votes by the automatic Precinct Tabulation Optical Scan Technology tabulating equipment shall be under the direction of the election authority and shall conform to the requirements of the automatic Precinct Tabulation Optical Scan Technology tabulating equipment. During any election-related activity using the automatic Precinct Tabulation Optical Scan Technology tabulating equipment, the election authority shall make a reasonable effort to dedicate the equipment to vote processing to ensure the security and integrity of the system Sec. 24B-13.

Violation 10: Memory devices are returned to the processing center unsealed. A secure chain of custody is not kept on this critical piece of equipment at any stage of the process from the time it leaves the programing room until after arriving at the processing facilities following voting. We have not tracked what happens to the memory device after that, but will.

Definitions for Article 24B Electronic, Mechanical or Electric Voting Systems with Precinct Tabulation Optical Scan Technology Capability:
“Computer”, “automatic tabulating equipment” or “equipment” includes apparatus necessary to automatically examine and count votes as designated on ballots, and data processing machines which can be used for counting ballots and tabulating results. Sec. 24B-2.

and

As soon as the polls are closed, the voting machine or machines shall be locked in order to prevent further voting and each machine shall be sealed against voting and tampering, with a numbered metal seal, and the number of such metal seal shall be recorded at once on the certificate provided for that purpose, and the number on the protective counter of each voting machine shall also be recorded on the certificate in the space provided for that purpose, and the number on the public counter shall be recorded in the space provided for that purpose. (10 ILCS 5/24-15) (from Ch. 46, par. 24-15)

Violation 11: Election Equipment is not sealed after the election as required by law to preserve the integrity of the elections.

As soon as the polls are closed, the voting machine or machines shall be locked in order to prevent further voting and each machine shall be sealed against voting and tampering, with a numbered metal seal, and the number of such metal seal shall be recorded at once on the certificate provided for that purpose, and the number on the protective counter of each voting machine shall also be recorded on the certificate in the space provided for that purpose, and the number on the public counter shall be recorded in the space provided for that purpose. (10 ILCS 5/24-15) (from Ch. 46, par. 24-15)

David Orr’s security fails at the most core levels. Our next step is to head to Springfield on Thursday for the Senate Election Law Hearing in Springfield, IL. More information will be posted tomorrow morning.

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One Comment → “Unlawfulness in Cook County Elections- The Facts”


  1. Yah Coyote

    1 year ago

    I really hope David Orr gets a prison sentence. Of course lower level goons have taken the “heat” for Obama while he remains “above the law”. Bravo to an organization that is taking the risk to continue the fight for justice. I wonder how much longer such organizations will be permitted to function without a modern gestapo kidnapping them in the middle of the night? May we all petition ALL-MIGHTY GOD to protect such valiant crusaders.


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