Cops Canvass Report Lack Of Documentation

This is a section of the Cops Canvass Report. See also San Diego County Canvass Procedure

Policy and Procedures Documentation Lacking

The Ro V is responsible for processing our election without undue error. The first step in a high-quality result, supported by all quality assurance methodologies, is to establish a full set of comprehensive documentation on the procedures and policies used by the Ro V to manage the election process and complete the canvass. Such documentation has been requested by members of our group and unless the Ro V is in violation the CPRA, we must assume that it does not exist. The processing of our elections should not be considered an ad-hoc or private matter. All steps should be observable and verifiable by oversight groups.

An established set of policies and procedures is fundamental to improve the quality of any operation. This should be the first order of business for all Ro V locations and mandated by law.

In addition to policy and procedure documents, working documents that detail the results of the election must also be available. This issue is dealt with in the issues category, "Audit Trail."

Issues related to this category:

Issue A001 - Lack of Comprehensive Procedure Documentation

Ro V does not maintain any comprehensive policy and procedures documentation. COPs requested such documentation on a number of occasions but was not successful in obtaining any comprehensive documentation for election procedures.

Comprehensive policy and procedures documentation is the first step to achieving high quality standards, as required by quality management standards such as ISO-9004-2 (2000) "Quality Management and Quality System Elements - Part 2: Guidelines for Services" as used in private industry. The lack of written policies and procedures by the San Diego County Ro V is a significant deficiency that underscores that local and state government institutions lack any legitimate quality management system standards equivalent to those used by private industry. The lack of standards denies citizens the ability to review and understand election processes used and the ability to hold public officials accountable when those standards are not met.

The two most important requirements of such a quality management system are:
  1. documented policies and procedures and
  2. a methodology to continuously improve the quality of the products and services provided. (i.e. a method to modify the procedures)

There was inadequate or nonexistent documentation for (at least) the following procedures:

  • Issue A001: Question to Ro V
    The section Reference Documents lists all the policy and procedure documentation provided to use by the Ro V to date. Does the Ro V have any additional documentation of procedures used, including comprehensive policy and procedure documentation?

  • Issue A001: Legislative
    ISO-9004-2 describes a quality management system for services, and can be effectively applied to services provided by governmental institutions, and election processing department, such as the Registrar of Voters. The Legislature should consider specifying the use of ISO-9004-2 as a basis for improving the quality of service and/or ISO-9001 (quality management system for products) for use by election juridictions.

Issue A003 - Citizens' questions not being answered

Citizens' questions not being answered -- Elections Code section 2300, the Voter’s Bill of Rights, requires elections officials to answer question from voters. Elections officials do not answer questions in writing from oversight activities in a timely fashion.

Elections officials often state "That's not a California Public Records Act Request" or "We don't have any document prepared that addresses that question, and therefore we won't answer it." These responses ignore section 2300 and do nothing to assist oversight groups in their activities. Such responses also ignore the Ro V’s own mission statement{{The Ro V mission statement says 'Conduct voter registration and voting processes with the highest level of professional election standards, accountability, security and integrity, thereby earning and maintaining public confidence in the electoral process.'}} professing a commitment to “earning and maintaining public confidence in the electoral process.”

  • Issue A003: Proposal to Ro V
    All questions without attempting to subvert oversight using irrelevant or inaccurate references to the CPRA, without ignoring Election Code section 2300 and without ignoring the Ro V's mission statement.

  • Issue A003: Legislative
    Elections Officials should be required to answer reasonable questions from oversight groups in a timely fashion, and not resort to "that is not a CPRA request."

Issue A008 - Ballot Statements - Office Use Section Not Explained

BallotStatements have an "Office Use Only" section does not include an explanation to allow the public to understand how it is being used.

The processing of our elections should be observable and subject to citizens' documentation in an open process with no secrets. The "Office Use" section could be easily explained on the Ballot Statement form. The Ro V should explain the use of this section and make that explanation available for anyone to read.

  • Issue A008: Proposal to Ro V
    Explain the office use section on Ballot Statements and add this explanation to procedure documentation available to the public. The addition of titles to each field in the office use section is a first step to eliminating the mystery of this section of the form.

  • Issue A008 Legislative
    Our election officials should run an open process that is available for the public to inspect. Secret "office use only" sections must be avoided in forms and if they are used, how the section is used by elections officials must be explained. This issue can be rectified if the elections officials maintains comprehensive procedure documentation (See Issue A001)

Issue A026 - No Reconciliation Procedure

Although the Ro V goes through a lengthy process of reconciliation which has been referenced in many conversations with them, this process is not documented in any procedure document. There are many re-scans of precincts all the way to the very last day of the canvass period, but as mentioned, no notes as to why these re-scanning operations are being performed. With no written procedure, no notes kept, and no final report, the electorate cannot verify that the canvass is in fact completed from a technical standpoint and has produced a reliable result.

Our review of the AuditLog revealed 133 times that the Registrar re-scanned precincts prior to the certification of the election (See "Audit Log Discrepancies" for our detailed discussion of this issue), but there is no written procedure supporting the decision process for performing such rescans, nor any way to document that all required rescans have been performed.

Furthermore, we see evidence that many ballots (about 9,000) are removed from the process and handled in another undocumented process and there is no tracking or reconciliation of those ballots (Issue A014 - "Tally Center - Write-Ins Removed and Not Counted".)

“Reconciliation” is the act of making two or more apparently conflicting things compatible or consistent with each other. The first step of reconciliation simply deals with the count of ballots, to insure that none are missed.

The following figures should all match (or an explanation regarding how they are reconciled should be provided):
  • The number of nonprovisional and nontouch-screen signatures on the Sign-In Rosters.
  • The count of physical ballots in the ballot box at the end of election night.
  • The number "cards cast", as reported on scanner tapes.
  • The number "# CARDS", as reported by the audit log for that precinct.
  • The number "Ballots cast, Polling", as reported in the final canvass report.

The next step would be to check that the actual vote is correct. The Post-Election Manual Tally is an attempt to check this, but as mentioned in our review of that procedure (See "Manual Tally Procedure") 29% of the precincts show issues, and there is a claim that the reconciliation process will deal with those errors.

In order to resolve conflicts in election results, a “correct” result must be known. Correct results require an audit. No audit is possible because in order to audit an election, the auditor must be able to trace each vote to the voter who cast it. Because ballots are cast anonymously, no such trace is possible. Without knowing what the correct result is, the only reconciliation that is possible is one that resolves inconsistencies in a way that simply eliminates them. Elections officials have proven over and over again that they will always resolve inconsistencies in favor of eliminating questions about the integrity of the results regardless of whether the inconsistencies are actually evidence of fraud.

Even if officials intended to use a reconciliation process to uncover fraud, such a process does not reveal fraud in a timely manner. But, the time any evidence of fraud has been investigated, the media have anointed the winners. Experience has shown that reversing the outcome of an election after the “winner” is anointed is, for all practical purposes, impossible.

Therefore, a robust reconciliation procedure and the related reconciliation report Issue A028 - "No Reconciliation Report" to reduce doubts of the public, reduce the possibility of fraud, and provide a truly reliable certified election.

  • Issue A026: Question to Ro V
    Please provide the procedure documentation for the "reconciliation procedure" which is used to determine if the election is complete and no additional rescans need to be performed.

  • Issue A026: Legislative
    The Ro V uses a "reconciliation procedure" that is undocumented. This "seat of the pants" approach must be discontinued and a fully disclosed and documented procedure introduced with extensive notes taken along the way. Every rescan should be done for a reason, and the reason should be reviewed for possible improvement of the procedure. Without a written procedure and without any exception documents, it is impossible to feel confident that the canvass is complete, it is impossible to know if the procedure needs to be improved, and there is no path of action to improve the procedure.

Issue A032 - Archival Procedures Lacking

There are no check-in and check-out procedures in the secure archive area and only documentation describing where the materials are in the storage facility. There is no way to know who accessed the records to determine if any may have been modified. There are no seal serial numbers maintained on the documentation.

See also Issue A001:"Lack of Comprehensive Procedure Documentation".

  • Issue A032: Question to Ro V
    Please establish rigorous check-in and check-out procedures for material in secure areas. There is no way to know who accessed the records to determine if any have been modified.

  • Issue A032: Legislative
    Law should be improved to establish basic requirements for secure archival operation, to include at least:
    • Check-in and Check out procedures to document who has accessed the materials.
    • Serial numbers of any security seals used in the operation of the secure archive.
    • Closed-circuit TV recording, video archival, and review procedures.

Official Reports - Missing, Insufficient or Misleading

In addition to inadequate policy and procedures documentation, the official reports generated by the Ro V are frequently misleading, insufficient, or incorrect.

Issue A013 - Tally Center Reception Count Misleading

The count of precincts that have been received by the Tally Center on election night is frequently cited by news media as the number of "Precincts Reporting." However, the ballots may not be even counted yet, and there are a vast number of VBM, provisionals, write-ins, etc. that have not been processed either. Therefore, this number should not be made public. Instead, the figure should be the total number of ballots scanned and accumulated in the central tabulator divided by the total number of ballots received both on election night and as VBM ballots. Also see (See Issue A007: "Ballot Statements - Removed Write-ins Not Documented" regarding the removed write-in and damaged ballots that are not included in the count until much later.

  • Issue A013: Proposal to Ro V
    Discontinue using the "Precincts Reporting" figure and clearly state the significance of the number reported. The figure cited should be the total number of scanned and tabulated ballots divided by the total number of ballots received, both those received on election night and those received as VBM ballots. The Ro V should disclose that the "precincts reporting" figure is no longer used because it is not an accurate representation of the completion status of the election.

  • Issue A013: Legislative
    Mandate that the Ro V should discontinue using the "Precincts Reporting" figure and instead cite a completion figure based on the total number of scanned and tabulated ballots divided by the total number of ballots received, both those received on election night and those received as VBM ballots.

Issue A028 - No Reconciliation Report

A reconciliation report should be provided that includes an explanation for any irregularities and provides a means to document that the canvass is complete. This report should show the number of sign-in signatures, the number of ballots scanned and tallied, the number of provisional ballots accepted and rejected, the number of VBM ballots received at the precinct and the number processed, etc. such that the figures shown above all balance. This report has been mentioned by the Ro V but it apparently does not exist. See also Issue A026: No Reconciliation Procedure.

  • Issue A028: Question to Ro V
    Please explain the crashes and program errors encountered by the central tabulator in the November 2008 election with possible assistance by the vendor (Premier Election Solutions in this case).

  • Issue A028: Legislative
    It should be statutory that crashes and program errors reported in the audit log are described and resolved in the final canvass report without the need for oversight groups to make requests to have these explained. The reconciliation report is a logical place for these explanations.

Related Issues of Concern
The following Issues of Concern are related to this category but have more relevance to other categories. They will be expanded in full in those categories and are only briefly mentioned here to avoid redundancy.

  • Issue A002: Public Posting of Audit Trail -- The paper audit trail should be posted on the Internet on election night by elections officials so anyone can review it.

  • Issue A004: No Ballot Inventory Report -- No report is generated regarding whether any errors occurred during SPUW, including the count of ballots.

  • Issue A031: No Seal Tampering Report
    At present there is no report explaining tampered seals.

  • Issue A040: PEMT Reports Incomplete
    The PEMT should produce a report for every race and every precinct, as suggested by the So S.

Next section: Chain of Custody
Topic revision: r16 - 2010-02-03, RaymondLutz
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