Monthly Archives: October 2016

Colorado Secretary of State comments on Ion Sancho video concerning “Diebold” Precinct Optical Scanners

Here is a video that was posted on FaceBook and has been seen on FB at least 6,563,489 times. It shows how easy it was to change results on a formerly Diebold precinct optical scanner of a type still used in Colorado. It features famed Leon County Florida Election Supervisor Ion Sancho and also Harri Hursti, a well known election technologist.

Below are some of the comments on a recent posting of the video, starting with those by the Colorado Secretary of State and followed by my own.

Wayne Williams This video does not reflect Colorado requirements. Memory cards are secured. In addition, 95% of Coloradans vote by mail, so there is obviously a paper ballot record. The new in person voting systems that I approved and that have been adopted in 18 counties have a paper ballot for in person voters as well. Even the older machines have to have a paper record to be legal in Colorado. Plus, we compare the machines to hand counts both before and after the election. So while I can’t say this can’t happen anywhere, it can’t happen in Colorado.

Like · Reply · 1 · 14 hrs

Harvie Branscomb In the video is well respected Leon County Florida Election Supervisor Ion Sancho and election quality activist Harri Hursti. The voting device shown is still used in Colorado especially in municipal elections. Broomfield and Pitkin Counties stopped using it only this year. The statutory post election audit that we use in Colorado has defects and can easily miss errors in tabulation that would alter an outcome. We are slated to move to a much more effective risk limiting audit in 2017 but surprisingly little preparation has been made for the transition. Our Colorado recount law (because of a poorly chosen denominator for the trigger threshold) is at least half as sensitive as that of many states and during a recount the same machines are used that can replicate tabulation errors that occurred in the first count.

Harvie Branscomb To make our statutory post election audit effective more than 500 ballots ought to be audited in large counties and the number should depend on the unofficial margin for each contest- more ballots selected for audit in case of a narrower victory margin. The way ballots are chosen for audit currently is rarely actually random and this lack of randomness will harm the value of the audit. And finally many counties do not audit by comparing a hand count to election night results, although this year a new rule will cause more counties that can to do so. When you look at the details of these integrity defending practices you find many places where improvements are needed.

Harvie BranscombOur new voting systems in 18 counties do provide machine printed paper copies that the voter can handle during in person voting but these copies encode the voter intent in what amounts to an electronic ballot printed into a QR code. That QR code isn’t voter verifiable. Not all counties allow voters to mark a paper ballot in person and cast it in the polling place without sending the ballot into the mail ballot signature verification process that can lead to the ballot not being counted until a letter from the clerk is responded to. The Colorado model can definitely be improved upon.

Like · Reply · 13 hrs
Here is a link to the FaceBook page containing the video: