Monday, May 19, 2008

Breaking the Chains....of Custody

One of the biggest issues people have with electronic voting is the fact that the votes can be manipulated if an entity has unfettered access to the equipment. The primary means with which the fairness of an election held by electronic means is maintained is physical security of the equipment. It is a longstanding precept of computer security that if you have physical access to the machine for a long enough period of time, the machine can eventually be compromised. Depending on the machine's design, that time frame can be very short, on the order of just a few minutes in some instances.

Therefore, whenever the county holds an election, the Election Judge, the Assistant Judge, and the county election technology office take extreme pains to ensure that the chain of custody for the Judges Booth Controller(s), is maintained at all times. When I pick up the election materials, I must verify that the MBB seals on the JBC's are in tact, I must record that number, along with the serial number of the JBC along with the serial number of a seal that I apply to the box containing the JBC on a form and it must be witnessed and co-signed by the Election technology employee. Then I am responsible for the JBC and I must not let it out of my control until election day morning when my Assistant must witness me cutting the box seal, verifying that the JBC seal is still in tact and has the correct number and that the serial number of the JBC is correct. Again, that person countersigns on a form. I then print out what is known as a "zero tape" showing any votes that may already recorded on it. That tape should come out all zeros and myself and my Assistant must verify that is the case before we open the polls. Then at the end of the day, the process is repeated in reverse. At no time is the JBC out of the sight of either myself or my Assistant.

This is called the "chain of custody", and if there is a problem with my precinct's votes, I and my assistant can be called into court to testify to the integrity of that chain of custody.

Klein ISD, Katy ISD, and Lone Star College District broke that chain of custody for every single vote cast. The JBC's were not picked up and signed for by the Election judges, they were delivered to the polling location some time before the election and in most cases left in publicly accessible areas a day or more before the election. Then again at the end of the day, due to poor training, many of the Election Judges left the JBC's on the storage racks along with the eSlates. Some JBC 's were missing for hours or in one instance I am told two days. Additionally many of the serial numbers of the JBC's returned did not match the numbers recorded by the district prior to delivery.

Interestingly, in the case of Klein ISD's bond election in which the $650 million dollar bond passed by a mere 312 votes. The JBCs from Brill Elementary were left at the polling location by the EJ necessitating the EJ to be escorted back to the school by the District police to retrieve the JBC. And coincidentally (or not) Brill had the highest "for" vote count of any of the polling places. Were that precinct's results challenged, the bond would have failed.

In Katy, there were several JBC's that were not turned in and were left unattended after the election, In the LSCS bond and trustee election 7 JBC's were unaccounted for for as long as a day or more.

ALL THREE of these election results are suspect. Why? Because all three districts played fast and loose with ballot security.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was this clearly followed?

May 19, 2008 3:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So what else is new? No one's going to take the time to call them on the carpet for it.

May 19, 2008 6:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Watch what happens... it's up to five elections and counting.....

May 19, 2008 7:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please correct if I'm wrong here, but isn't Klein ISD School Board Member Jim Smith's WIFE the PRINCIPAL at BRILL?

May 20, 2008 10:14 AM  
Blogger Rorschach said...

Anon, I was unaware of that. That strikes me as a monumental conflict of interest anyway. Principals are answerable to the school board, so therefore she is answering to her husband. That opens all kinds of issues of nepotism and favoritism.

May 20, 2008 10:23 AM  
Blogger Rorschach said...

Anon, I just went and looked and sure enough it says right on Jim Smith's bio that his wife Karen is a principal in Klein. and on Brill's website it shows Karen Smith as being principal of the school. One could reasonably assume than that this is the same Karen Smith.

May 20, 2008 10:27 AM  
Blogger Jean said...

And don't forget Pricilla Kelly, newly re-elected board member at LSCS, is also counsellor at Klein ISD.

This whole education insider stuff is for the birds!!!

May 20, 2008 10:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is getting like a map of connect the dots... problem here is now the map is totally covered with the connecting lines.

What fine ethical examples we are setting for our youth. The school board president in New Caney owes the district $30,000 in back taxes, a College Board member's son is alleged to have a 30-40 page TDJC "Wrap Sheet" and this is what we have as "leadership."

We conduct no drug sweeps at our high schools for fear we will loose a "head count" and hack off some parent that might find the other ethical and illegal activities that we are conducting.... The State reimbursement dollars are more important than whether we have safe schools that are drug free as the sign proclaim.

Don't throw stones at a glass house will be the battle cry, because we will show just how thin your glass is......

May 20, 2008 3:49 PM  

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