Friday, March 16, 2012

Dominion Voting Accepts Blame for the Hillsborough Glitch

In a letter dated March 15, 2012 Dominion voting has said their machine is to blame for the glitch that essentially erased 38,000 ballots, which necessitated a "rescanning" of those ballots, all from early voting, on Nov. 2 going into Nov. 3, 2010.

We have been asking the county since July 2011 for written documentation of a root cause for this rescanning of 38,000 ballots, 50 percent of the ballots from the last three days of early voting.

Today Peg Reese, deputy chief of operations for the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections called us after inquiries were made to her office from Noah Pransky of WTSP News in Tampa.

Pransky spoke with us on March 8, following the last meeting of the county commission, and again via email, March 13.

Reese released this document dated yesterday March 15, 2012. Detailing what had been stated by Mark Sharpe, county commissioner, on Jan. 5 2012 following our first appearance before the county commission.

This marks the first time the county election supervisor has shared publicly, that Dominion voting unequivocally owned the blame for this glitch, in the Hillsborough election Nov. 2, 2010.

Ms. Reese said the SOE runs a clean shop. There is nothing to indicate to her that anyone working there from the SOE Lennard on down, would intentionally do anything to sway a vote one way or another. She said everyone working for the Hillsborough SOE is totally committed to providing a fair and accurate vote where every vote counts in a timely fashion.

Previous to this, the county has been slow if not recalcitrant to release information explaining this glitch. SOE Lennard, MIS Director Tim Bobanic and Chief of Staff were less than straightforward on July 21, 2011 during our interview with them. Lennard, who was not corrected by Latimer or Bobanic indicated the glitch did not happen during the general election but rather during the primary in which case all rescanning was done by 11 p.m. both assertions contrary to the historic record. He also offered no documentation when asked by us relative to this glitch despite the existence of a Conduct of Election report which detail the problem, dated Nov. 14, 2010 and a March 1, 2011 answer from Dominion voting.

Acting County Attorney Don Odom released that document relative to the "glitch" earlier this month after pressure from many who read this blog. This report from Dominion seemed to point the blame at staff members for a "hot extraction" of 12 memory cards which were then sent to early voting to capture the vote.

Ms. Reese had no answer at this time as to why those 12 memory cards weren't tested before they were sent to capture the early vote during the November election in which Rick Scott was elected by the narrowest margin in any Florida gubernatorial race since the late 1800s? Just over 60,000 votes separated himself and Alex Sink.

The "glitch" of 2010 mimicked a similar glitch in 2008 wherein 80,000 ballots were rescanned, also from early voting, also from Temple Terrace, a bedroom and minority community adjacent to University of South Florida, which has 38,000 undergraduates and 9,000 graduate students. In other words, an area predominantly democrat.

But Reese said the glitch in 2008 was different in that the memory cards were only supposed to capture 5,000 votes each, something that wasn't known by then machine contractor Premier elections or reported to the SOE prior to the election. They essentially were overloaded, she said.

Premier, a rename of Diebold Elections was sold to Dominion in 2010. The same machines, the software the systems remain largely in place all across the country

During the 2008 glitch, it was later revealed that some 431 previously voted ballots many from District 3 including Temple Terrace, were found in a box in a warehouse and given to new Supervisor of Elections Phyllis Busansky.

Busansky was found dead in her hotel room in June 2009 during a convention for elections supervisors in St. Augstine. She was working with auditors and federal investigators who were looking into the financial dealings of her predecessor, Buddy Johnson.

Governor Charlie Crist replaced Busansky with Republican Earl Lennard.

Lennard promised reforms to the office.

Reese also didn't know why it had taken so get any documents to us regarding our questions. She wouldn't say why the SOE continues to rely on these machines despite the numerous glitches. Nor would she speculate whether or why Hillsborough glitches seem to target areas of heavy democrat participation.

She reiterated that Hillsborough's SOE is totally committed to a fair and accurate vote.

Stay tuned for more.

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