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Citizens Oversight Status Update 2019

Citizens Oversight (2020-04-13) Ray Lutz

This Page:
More Info: Audit Engine, Ballot Access Lawsuit, California Public Utilities Commission, Coalition To Decommission San Onofre, COPs Program, Easy Voting, Earth Summit, Election Integrity, Election Team, Snapshot Protocol, Election Audit Lawsuit, Helms Proposal, Net Neutrality, Nuclear Energy, Nuclear Waste, Open Ballot Initiative, San Diego Primary Contest 2016, San Onofre Settlement Federal Case, Save ECPAC, Settlement To Move San Onofre Waste, Shutdown Diablo, Shut San Onofre, Snapshot Protocol, Stop Nuke Dump, Stop The Unfair Settlement

This has been a successful year for Citizens Oversight and for everyone who has helped in our projects. Since this was an election year, the most active projects were with regard to Election Integrity, but the Stop Nuke Dump project was active as well. We thank all our members, volunteers, and donors who have stepped forward to help our agenda items.

For anyone wishing to catch up on our activites, please see

Big Picture:

In 2019, Citizens Oversight worked primarily on three program areas, with a number of initiatives in each:
  • Election Integrity
    • Audit oversight -- as this was not an election year, we were cleaning up from the prior year.
    • Risk Limiting Audits -- continuing to understand RLA audits and batch comparison audit modeling
    • Audit Engine -- ballot image auditing service -- This is our primary focus at this time.
  • San Onofre -- Stop Nuke Dump
    • HELMS -- continue to monitor progress of this at the NRC.
    • Pendleton Option -- Mid 2019, this obvious best option was defined and promoted.
  • Earth Summit -- Our proposed annual event on May 25 was canceled and we reformed the idea into monthly events. With COVID-19, we have suspended these meetings.

Most important events:

Election Integrity

  • Citizens Oversight has supported an endeavor to understand Risk Limiting Audits and similar election audits which use a small sample of the ballots to determine that the reported results are correct, within a given risk limit.
    • Participated remotely in the RLA pilots performed in Rhode Island.
    • Pilots of Risk Limiting audits were approved for CA in AB-2125, and signed into law, so this is very important for CA, and we need to understand these audits so we can effectively provide essential oversight.
    • We created a Monte-Carlo simulation of the audits so we could understand how each approach would pan out, and developed an alternative method called "Balanced Risk Audits with Workload Limitation (BRAWL)." Read the whitepaper
    • Involved in a number of very active email lists and working groups associated with Verified Voting, Brennan Center, Democracy Works, and other organzations that are pushing very hard to get Risk Limiting Audits introduced. No one else in those groups is as focused on keeping these transparent and overseeable, so our involvement is very important, albeit somewhat out of view of the public.
    • Have proposed a standard format for Risk Limiting audit data to facilitiate oversight of election audits. Will be continuing to formulate this as a standard as we have more chance to bounce it off other RLA pilots. Rhode Island had several different flavors of audits in their recent pilot so it will go a long way toward solidifying it.
    • Implemented an experimental software based collection of real-time election data. See Election Data Harvesting For Nov 2018
    • Worked with candidate Raji Rab who eventually submitted his case to the state supreme court.
    • Participated in oversight of San Diego County Random Draw
    • Other requests to Micheal Vu were blown off and no response was provided. They are now stonewalling.

To support this work, we have:

Shut San Onofre and Stop Nuke Dump projects

Citizens' Oversight has made two key proposals for dealing with the waste on the beach, the Pendleton Option and the Helms Proposal. We are continuing to monitor this situation but this is now a lower priority compared with the Election Integrity and Audit Engine projects.
  • Settlement agreement to Move the Waste to a Safer Place -- Stop Nuke Dump project. This resulted in the formation of an Expert Team that is supposedly work to define both a strategic plan and a transporation plan. We have seen zero progress on these issues.
    • Early in 2019, we have drafted a detailed letter to the Expert Team to get information on their status, review of the canister drop issue, broach the deep borehole option, and provide notice of the new CASTOR dual-wall cask system, which appears to be HELMS-compliant. We have received no response and no progress has been reported.
  • Helms Proposal was released publicly and notice published in the Federal Register.
    • Early in 2020, a response was received by the NRC to this proposal and as expected, everything was rejected.
  • San Onofre Canister Drop Incident -- This was the biggest single issue which arose in 2018, where a 50-ton canister was nearly dropped 18 feet into an underground vault, with no redudant systems provided to control the load. Work on this issued continued into 2019, including generating a simulation of the incident which showed that the canisters would likely deform and become lodged in the vault.

Earth Summit

Citizens Oversight worked hard to start a new annual event called Earth Summit, with the first event to occur on May 25, 2019 at the Balboa Park Club Ballroom. This event was concieved as a morph of the March Against Monsanto, which we helped to produce for five years, but did not have one at all for 2017 or 2018. We felt that we needed an event that was more positive, broader in scope, and able to include the San Onofre waste issue as well as most other issues.

We were informed late in the game that the event was too difficult for the City of San Diego to support at the Balboa Park Club Ballroom. It was a difficult decision but we decided to pull the plug on this issue and think about how to proceed.

We decided to conduct a number of smaller meetings starting in August, at the Balboa Park Club, but in the smaller Santa Fe room. We conducted interesting meetings on

These events have since been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our attempt to conduct these meetings was very time consuming and although the events were good, the turnout was less than we anticipated. All in all, these were not big wins in terms of making a difference.

Other projects

Citizens Oversight has been involved in a number of additional projects, such as:
  • Save ECPAC - This project was to save the ECPAC theater, the East County Performing Arts Center. This project was a big success although it took forever. The name is now changed to "The Magnolia", remodeling of the theater has been completed and it reopened in late 2019. Of course, now with COVID-19 pandemic, alle events have been put on hold.
  • Organized Protest against governmental shutdown -- had every media in town at our event and it was the first such protest in town, and forced the hand of the unions and other people to create their own, which happened later at the airport. Their event was actually a little bit late as the shutdown was already announced to be ended at that point.
  • Continued to operate Air Progressive, an internet-based progressive talk radio station. Tune in!

Fundraising, etc.

Our work on Election Integrity, our Election Audit Lawsuit and the Snapshot Protocol have been supported by our fundraising efforts which have done reasonably well this year. As we have been keeping our costs to a minimum, our fundraising thus far has been used only for out-of-pocket costs for the lawsuits, travel, and events. We have been fortunate to have some very generous donors this year which should enable us to continue the pursuit of our agenda.


Please consider donating to Citizens Oversight! Please visit this page: Donate To Citizens Oversight

Thank you! --Ray Lutz

Topic revision: r3 - 15 Apr 2020, RaymondLutz
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