Sunday, November 18, 2012

Abandoned Shopping Mall is No Place for Supervisor of Elections Office

Welcome to the St. Lucie County Office of Supervisor of Elections. It's located in a run-down former shopping mall on State Road 70 in Fort Pierce Florida.

Now, why might this be?

There are no answers to that question. The supervisor's office says there are budget constraints which placed it here and there's nothing can be done on her end. The chairman of the county commission assures us the office is well funded, and that the failure of 6 of 18 memory cards in their job of transmitting data, is a result of poor training at the office, only. He knows this for a fact, and will brook no argument as to security, equipment, software or otherwise.

Here's what the state audit of the fouled election between Allen West and Patrick Murphy looked like. Here we see David Drury, chief of voter systems certification for the state, hard at work, or swindle, and we don't know precisely which it is. Certainly the lack of transparency is concerning. The only reason we can see him is because this phone camera pic is taken in the two inch space between a drawn vertical blind, and the wall.
Florida Division of elections chief David Drury at work surrounded by opened boxes of ballots

One concern for security of an election is hackability: can the guts of the voting systems be attacked from remote computer assault? That means, someone posting-up with a router, some signal decrypting equipment and mal-ware on a laptop. And the answer is? Yes. How? Well, the tabulating room - that's where the memory cards are coded before they are sent out to the voting precincts or early voting places, and where the data streams back from them and is compiled. It turns out this vital space is adjacent to a totally abandoned store. The divider between them is apparently wallboard over metal studs.
Left is a cavernous unsecured facility with wallboard separating from, right, the sensitive machinery tabulating the votes in the St. Lucie Supervisor of Elections Office.

On the left is a massive empty store, on the right is the supervisor of elections office. The white blinds behind the glass cover up the State Audit underway on Thursday morning. The tabulating room is between these two.

The mall security systems, alarms and so forth, come on at 10:30 p.m. according to the Palm Beach Post.  And yet on a typical day, the office closes at 5 p.m. While we were there, we could see no evidence of any mall security cameras anywhere.

Layout of the office?

Another concern is the storage area for the voting machines. This is adjacent to the mall service exit. There is a simple lock to the storage room which opens on the mall walk. The lock is one you might find on the side door to your garage. In the service exit hallway are stacked boxes by the dozen. Do they contain voting equipment or things necessary to the voting process? Unknown.

Walk right in
While the doors into this from the service exit hallway are only accessed via card swipe, the wrong person with the right card working at the wrong hours, could access this room unseen from either the mall, or the outside as there are exit doors on either end of the hallway. There didn't appear to be any cameras in this hallway. We entered from the public mall walk, the door wasn't locked. We took our time photographing everything inside it, then left through the fire exit door, which also was unlocked. There were no signs of No Tresspass.

Voting Equipment Left OUT IN THE OPEN.

When the recounting retabulating was going on, on Wednesday, they said there wasn't enough room to acomidate the press and observers, so they hauled the voting equipment across the mall walk to an abandoned jewelry store type space. Observers could walk from this space back and forth into the office tabulating room.

The condition of the mall itself, the falling ceiling tiles, the mold and dust, gave one much to think about. There were no video cameras in the "jewelry store" monitoring the twenty voting machines in operation as this proceeded. Who knows if this is relevant.

Elections supervisor Gertrude Walker and David Drury inside the "jewelry store" during the rescanning. No security cameras, ceiling tiles falling, dust.

In sum it is sufficient to say voting, is one of the most important processes we pay for in government. The vote is the place where all other decisions in government come from.

And yet, in St. Lucie County Florida, the vote is afforded a small corner in a run down largely abandoned shopping mall near the highway-town in Fort Pierce.
The office is wide open for any number of security failures.

When a failure does happen we get two vastly conflicting stories, neither of which make any sense. The media plays them up, without investigating the obvious. On the one hand, the democratic party goes after those going after Ms. Walker.

Yes, Ms. Walker is a 30 year veteran at her job. What about a scanning machine left in the Tradition polling precinct overnight? These things are not mutually exclusive. They both can be true. The latter needs to be investigated, regardless of the former.

The county commission chairman we spoke with can point fingers at Ms. Walker all day and say she was to blame through incompetence. And yet, what about this appalling setting they have place her in?

Ms. Walker doesn't have to be in on the steal to have these lapses in her office, and the security at the mall exploited for a rigged vote.

St. Lucie is one more example of how the state division of elections isn't just presiding over yet another (yawn/vomit) "Perfect Storm" of conditions leading to a screw up. No. The state division of elections obviously knows - or should know - the conditions under which the vote is taken and collected around the state.

They are guilty of aiding and abetting a screwed up vote: and it appears anymore, they are part of the swindle to sway the vote one particular way, over and over again. Because if it were all a mistake, they mistake would break left, as well as right. But it doesn't.

Allen West GAINED 500 votes in the confusion. Rick Scott won after a tainted vote. Al Gore LOST after a supreme court decision and a 16,022 backward vote in Volusia County.

And for years apparently everyone knew this office was located where it was, and was in the condition it was in before the screw up of 2012.

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