Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Florida Is Once Again At The Legal Vortex Of A Potential Stolen Election


-by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman

Florida has long been a vortex for stealing elections. Now a Florida-based legal case that is likely to go to the US Supreme Court could once again decide the presidency.

The case centers on how our votes will be counted in an election that will be conducted largely with mailed-in paper ballots. In particular, its focus is on electronic scanning machines that are in at least 80% of US precincts.

From a paper ballot, the scanners produce a digital image. That image can then be electronically read, yielding an overall election result in less than ten seconds. The paper ballots themselves are preserved for recounts.

But according to a lawsuit filed July 1, election boards are illegally choosing to discard the images. The plaintiffs want the courts to stop that.

Signed by three Florida Democratic legislators, the suit demands that electronic ballot images be preserved in accordance with federal law.

By federal law the ballot images are considered part of the public record and, like the actual paper ballots, must be retained at least 22 months. The machines are used in at least 80 percent of the nation's voting stations.

But many Secretary of States and/or State election boards around the country simply erase the images, allowing local officials considerable leeway in determining the vote count. In Florida, which has been notoriously fluid in the accuracy of its outcomes, only 27 out of the 67 counties that we know of are preserving the ballot images.

This suit was filed under the leadership of John Brakey, founder and director of AUDIT Elections USA, a nationwide election protection coalition specializing in digital imaging.

"These records called ballot images will help verify the accuracy of the 2020 presidential election," says State Representative Joseph S. Geller (D-Aventura). Geller is joined in the lawsuit by State Representative Geraldine Thompson (D-Windermere) and State Senator Victor M. Torres (D-Kissimmee) as well as Dan Helm, a candidate for Supervisor of Elections in Pinellas County. Geller said the destruction of these images is clearly in violation of state and federal law.

"Governor DeSantis has just signed a new law that allows digital ballot images to be used in recounts," says Susan Pynchon, Director of Florida Fair Elections Coalition, "and yet there is nothing in the law requiring the ballot images to be preserved for 22 months. This new law adds urgency to the preservation of ballot images as vital election records."

Says Brakey: "Florida been the scene of numerous razor-close elections, including the 2000 presidential election decided by just 537 votes and the 2018 U.S. Senate election decided by only 10,033 votes.

Preservation of voting materials has been a widespread problem. In 2004 the King-Lincoln-Bronzeville civic organization sued the state of Ohio to preserve ballots for audits and a recount. Ohio’s then-Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner ordered all county election boards to bring all ballots and other related materials to a special repository in Columbus. The demand was supported by the federal courts.

But 56 of Ohio’s 88 counties failed to comply, claiming they were missing all or some of the necessary election material needed for a recount. There were no ensuing prosecutions.

Allen County claimed some of its materials got water damage, and then all were destroyed by a contractor. Guernsey County said a trash collector picked up the ballot boxes in error. The Mahoning County Board of Elections blamed environmentalists who "accidentally" picked up ballots when recycling. Hamilton County "accidentally" shredded its ballots. Holmes County took the "dog ate my homework" prize by claiming a carafe of coffee spilled on the ballots as they were stored in a vault.

Goal ThermometerIn Florida, 2018, Broward County "lost" 2,040 ballots. Brakey noted that the voting machine companies themselves have marketed digital voting equipment that creates ballot images that can help in "auditing and adjudication….Had Broward County saved their ballot images in 2018, the mystery of the missing 2,040 ballots could have been solved."

Florida defendants include the Supervisors of Elections in Broward, Miami-Dade, Duval, Orange, Lee, Pinellas, Palm Beach, and Hillsborough Counties, who say they have no legal obligation to save the ballot images, and admit to destroying them.

"The ballot images are a critical component for system diagnostics," said Ray Lutz, an electrical engineer who is one of the nation's top experts on ballot images. "If errors or discrepancies are discovered, the images are needed to pinpoint the source of those errors, whether it's faulty equipment, software bugs, or other external reasons.

"Ballot images can also be a check on the paper ballots," Lutz added. "Paper ballots can be modified with a pen, accidentally destroyed or inappropriately shredded. Having the original image created when the vote is cast protects against modification of the paper ballots."

Ballot images are public records that can easily allow anyone to verify election results. Some places, such as Dane County, WI, and San Francisco, CA, and 15 counties in Florida, provide ballot images with a public records request or post all the ballot images on their websites so that voters can verify election results for themselves.

“Unfortunately, at least one vendor has built a self-destruct mechanism into their voting systems that allows election officials to destroy evidence that is public records that can help determine if election results are accurate,” Brakey said. “Our success in this lawsuit will go a long way towards reducing cynicism about elections. Our country needs elections that are transparent, trackable, and publicly verified.”

Links to Case # 2020 CA 001238:

The Complaint Filing # 109701662, E-Filed 07/01/2020 09:55:22 PM

This Complaint with Hyperlinks to all Exhibits.

UPDATE From Howie:

I asked three of the most prominent Democratic challengers running for office, congressional candidates Adam Christensen and Cindy Banyai and Bob Lynch who is running for a Republican-held state legislative seat in a south Florida swing district, about the danger of election theft Wasserman and Fitrakis are warning about. Adam told me that "the largest election frauds that have occurred in history involved the incumbent governments (and dictatorships) burning the boxes of ballots so that no one could ever verify that the votes were counted correctly. This is the digital version of burning ballots to hide results. If you care about living in a democracy then destroying election results is something that we cannot allow to happen."

Dr. Cindy Banyai has been raising awareness on issues in Florida elections since earlier this year recognizing that the DeSantis administration could use the COVID-19 pandemic to suppress votes. "We absolutely need to check every process and ensure there is integrity in our elections in Florida. There are simply too many people trying to skirt the system and use the bureaucracy to eliminate votes. These types of backups are needed to dissuade any potential vote suppression and check any discrepancies."

Bob Lynch noted that "Of all the people who have been spot on about what is happening right before our eyes, there has been no bigger Cassandra than Jenny Cohn. She has been talking to everyone about this since At least 2018. I realize that the cable news stations have decided that Malcolm Nance and Sarah Kendzior are bad for business, but Jenny never even got on. She has written the manual on all of the different ways our voting machines can be hacked or compromised and yet nobody on either side seems to care. It makes you wonder. There is a Pulitzer out there for any half-assed reporter who wants to chase down this story. Follow the money and the patents."

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At 10:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stealing an election is now the only way either party can win. Hackable machine balloting MUST end, and elections MUST be run by accountable non-partisan entities.

My unicorn will be delivered via a rainbow any day now.

At 4:13 AM, Blogger Procopius said...

"There were no ensuing prosecutions." How can we change that? I lost faith in Obama with "we must look forward, not back," when the law of the land (both treaty and U.S. Code) REQUIRED an investigation of plausible claims of torture. Impunity is so ingrained in out culture we don't even notice it except in the case of police officers.

At 8:34 AM, Blogger Cugel said...

If this election and any election comes down to a recount in Florida we are all royally screwed before it starts. Fortunately, that doesn't look very likely at this point. The entire election hinges on it being a complete blowout repudiation of Trump and the Republicans. If the margin is too big it then cheating isn't going to be enough to sway the results.

In short, if Biden wins Florida by his current margin of around 5% nothing these corrupt GOP election officials can do is going to matter. But, if Florida goes to Biden by 5% Trump will already have lost Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and the election. He's so far behind in CO and VI that it's not even a contest.

At 5:42 AM, Blogger Dianne Barker said...

What % of state's election equipment, in USA, produces ballot images needed for a fair recount?


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