Jim Allen, Communications Director for the Chicago Board of Elections (BoE), acknowledges that “the numbers didn’t match” initially in the legally mandated 5% audit of voting and tabulating machines after the recent Illinois Democratic primary between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Allen, however, insists that this is simply a “perception issue” and that absolutely no election fraud took place.
Allen was responding by phone to my questions regarding allegations from citizen vote monitoring groups Who’s Counting? – Chicago and the Illinois Ballot Integrity Project (IBIP). Dr. Lora Chamberlain is a leader of Who’s Counting, which works with IBIP to credential election day monitors and joined them this year to audit the audit. IBIP was started in Illinois in the aftermath of the 2000 Al Gore versus George Bush Debacle. A total of six members of the two groups gave affidavit-based testimony at the April 5, 2016 Chicago Board of Elections meeting.
The testimony is, simply put, beyond stunning.
It can be viewed in its entirety on the official Chicago Elections YouTube channel. Beginning around the 24 minute mark will launch you into a most profoundly bizarre and troubling hour of bureaucratic bore and can-this-be-for-anything-like-real nonsense-mongering.
Chicago BoE Legal Counsel James Scanlon says early on that “[t]he 5% audit or tabulation cannot be used to change the results of the election. It’s only a means of testing the voting equipment.” Multiple times BoE members suggest that citizens testifying aren’t really credible to talk about an audit because they aren’t professional auditors. As Andrew Galipeau notes by way of comment over at YouTube, the entirety of the citizen monitoring discussion takes place after the BoE has already pulled a fast one to certify the election results without allowing time for objections from those who showed up to do just that:
0:00 Meeting opens and introductions
0:30 1st item of business (accept the results)
0:45 From the audience “Can we object?” – “No, not yet”
1:01 “Any discussion? Does not let audience know this is the time to object/discuss
1:14 Motion passes and they accept the results.
1:38 Meeting is adjourned.
1:48 You can see her visibly exhale in relief, as they have just certified the results and the public has not realized Special meeting is started (but they have already accepted the results). The entire rest of the video is essentially meaningless and just putting on a show for the public to air grievances with no legal recourse available. Really wish we could fix it, bureaucracy is bullshit. It’s all certified legally official before 2 minutes into the video.
I followed up with an interview of Dr. Chamberlain and spoke by phone with Jim Allen twice. Between one direct comment on the video and my interviews with Allen, the Chicago BoE never denies the counting irregularities. When pushed, they simply state, as Allen did in a follow up email to our conversations,
The numbers did match. There were questions about the process of taking the first tabulation sheet back and finding and correcting the errors on that tabulation sheet. The numbers did match. Again, no votes were added or removed.
Allen used an analogy with me about balancing your personal checkbook: “If you are going through your checkbook and the first time is mismatched, you don’t immediately yell ‘the bank is ripping me off’.”
What isn’t clear, on this analogy, is whether the checkbook figures were ever actually balanced or whether the bottom line was simply fudged to accept that the bank is always right.
Four of the people who gave testimony described unbelievable irregularities in detail without a single word of rebuttal about the specifics of how the audit tabulation occurred from the Board. In sharp contrast to a more orderly audit in Rensselaer County, New York, Chamberlain, Michelle Suzanne Gale, Rebecca Kerlin, and William Shipley stated that problems included erasure of tally sheet votes when they didn’t match (then adding some to get to the correct, pre-determined number), attempts to hide the work that was being done or to block the view of monitoring citizens, rapid adding of tallies to tally sheets near the end of the day to make things work, inconsistencies in the way names were read leading employees tallying the results to say “wait, I’m confused” without real redress, most stations having a single person to tally results for particular machines rather than two tally-ers, tally-ers falling asleep or absenting themselves to the bathroom while the results continued to be read-out, double reading of votes that had already been tallied, and multiple methods for cheating or fudging the results when they didn’t match, which was apparently quite often.
Shipley says in his testimony that he took photographic evidence, which I have not yet seen, of the erasure of tally marks.
Allen was willing to cop to some of the troubles, especially with tallying. He attributed it to counters not having enough space on their tally sheets. “The tally sheets did not change in size,” Allen told me, when they moved from the election day machines to the early voting machines. Early voting included substantially more votes as it took place over a fifteen day window before election day. The citizens groups emphasized as well that it was the early voting machines with the most troubles. This led, according to Allen, to “writing on the backs of sheets” when “instead of keeping the first tally sheet and handing the preparers of the hand count a new blank sheet to start over” they just used the same, smaller-sized sheet. “So you were correct, the numbers didn’t match” the first time around. But, Allen added, “there’s no proof or evidence we are aware of that any votes were added or erased. That’s a pretty inflammatory allegation.”
That “inflammatory allegation,” however, is precisely what multiple affidavits and witnesses insist happened. Most troubling, in my viewing of the video and follow-up discussions and emails, there is only one suggestion ever of a recount when, as both sides agree, the tallies didn’t match. BoE members never come close to describing any procedure required in terms of starting over when things do not match. Shipley instead reports around the 1:21 mark that when one brave auditor in a single instance spoke up against what appeared to be pressure from the top to make things just match, they were reluctantly told to recount. The individual tally-er did so and said again that it did not match. A third time, then, they were asked to recount, and it still did not match. At this point, according to Shipley, other counters were brought in to bring the audit results in line with the reported vote total.
Since Chamberlain in particular reported that the mismatches would have meant substantially more votes for Bernie Sanders in a very specific case, I followed up with her to ask if all or most of the mismatches were similarly suggestive of a miscount favoring Clinton. Chamberlain responded, “It appears to us that the inaccuracies were mostly in favor of Hillary,” but she added, “we are not going to say that in a court of law because we didn’t have every table covered every day” and “there was a lot of blocking behavior” by BoE employees throughout the process.
Allen, for his part, is most upset about the timing of the affidavit reports. For citizen monitors, it makes perfect sense. The audit ended at the beginning of the last week in March and they showed up to the next meeting the first full week in April. For Allen, this was much too late as “things were sealed” as of the certification which they were legally required to do by that date. For Allen, the two groups “waited until after the board was required to make a legal declaration” before raising objections. Chamberlain and IBIP, however, reasonably believed that they were showing up to make objections at precisely the right meeting.
Allen insists that the machines are perfectly good, even though they were first certified in 2002 and put into use in 2006. They’ve survived more intense recounts, by Allen’s reckoning, with candidates from two sides present and without showing a single missing vote.
And this appears to be the real rub.
Allen and the Chicago Board of Elections have an overweening trust in the machines that tabulated the early votes. For Allen, the citizen groups’ objections are mystifying; he thinks they mean that the entire Board and its employees and volunteers were “in the hop for Clinton.” Near the end of my initial conversation with him, I double checked to make sure that Verified Voting information is correct about the type of machines used for early balloting in Chicago.
By this point in my research I had realized strongly that it isn’t enough to simply state that electronic machines are stealing votes. There are dozens of different types of voting and vote tabulation machines in use across various states and counties. They are not all equally vulnerable to hacking of votes. Some are quite old; some were newly bought and put into use for this election cycle. Some are networked to other voting machines or tabulators in a particular county; some are not. Some have paper trails while, sixteen years after Bush v. Gore, some still do not. Some have been very provably hacked, while others have passed “Red Team” vulnerability tests. (And some of the ones that have been hacked are particularly vulnerable because they are networked, hacking has proven viral, and hiding the corruption, even from a paper trail, is easily accomplished.)
On Monday my final report in this series, Part 6, will look at a handful of machines among the worst of the worst as they are present in various counties throughout various states. Do those worst of the worst machines match up with where exit polling is most terrible or not?
Allen responded to my question to confirm that Chicago early voting machines are the AVC Edge II Plus or EIIP. Over the final ninety seconds as we closed that initial phone conversation, I quickly Googled the AVC Edge. Other than having a paper trail, it is in fact among the worst of the worst. It would not take Allen’s entire crew to be corrupted, just a lazy audit process. In 2008 a team of scientists from the University of California Santa Barbara showed that a single person could hack the Edge without breaking the security seals. Furthermore, the hack could be accomplished in such a way that the bad code would easily spread to all other machines in a particular county.
Eight years later, those easily hackable AVC Edge machines are still counting votes in a wide variety of states and counties, including in the third largest city in the United States. And one of the only processes by which to test the security of these machines in Chicago is nothing less than a tremendous joke.
Part 1: Taking Election Fraud Allegations Seriously
Part 2: Debunking Some Election Fraud Allegations
Part 3: In-depth Report on Exit Polling and Election Fraud Allegations
An Interview With Lead Edison Exit Pollster Joe Lenski
Part 4: Purged, Hacked, Switched
Part 5: Chicago Election Official Admits “Numbers Didn’t Match”
Part 6: Clinton Does Best Where Voting Machines Flunk Hacking Tests