Monday, December 15, 2008

November 2008 Ballot Images are Online

The Transparency Project's scanned images of Humboldt County's November 2008 ballots are now available online. Thank you to Streamguys, especially Jonathan Speaker and Andy Jones, for helping us get the bits out of our beautiful low-bandwidth region. And thank you to EARC for offering the hosting space.

The UC Berkeley Election Administration Research Center is hosting the images in collection form, as a series of approximately one gig files and accompanying GPG signatures. The site is momentarily password protected; if it is still password protected when you read this, we've been given permission to give the case-sensitive user/password combination of "download/Down2disc".

The ballots will also be hosted as individual images (and perhaps as collections as well) at Parke Bostrom's ETP site.

We expect the ballots to become available at other sites as well.

The latest version of Ballot Browser software is also available. This location will point to updates as they appear.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Time-Standard followup, and more

Thadeus Greenson has written a follow-up to his story from Friday. It appeared in our local newspaper, The Eureka Times-Standard, on Sunday.

I've written my own commentary, it's at my web site:

One of the founding volunteers, Tom Pinto, who works at the Humboldt County District Attorney's office, has put up a web site for the project at This site has a lot of history and pictures, in addition to an overview of the project.

The story is also getting a fair amount of exposure in the "election integrity community," whatever that is. It's been picked up by Brad Friedman's

The Peter B. Collins national radio show had Registrar Carolyn Crnich on its Friday program.

Where's that counting software you're talking about?

Here's the latest development release of the vote counting software I've been developing:

Here's the matching "signature"

The software hasn't yet been packaged up for full public release but it is, after all, open source, which means I can't hold onto it forever.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Software glitch yields inaccurate election results

Here's a link to coverage of the discrepancy the project found, possibly exposing a four year old flaw in Premier Election Systems software. The story is by Thadeus Greenson of the Eureka Times-Standard.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

We Scanned More Ballots than were in the Official Results

Despite accurate work by our elections department, their official count was missing 197 ballots from a single precinct. Humboldt's version of GEMS appears to drop the zero'th ballot deck under certain circumstances.

Statement by Mitch Trachtenberg,
developer of Ballot Browser, open source vote counting software


Our votes are too important to be counted by secret code running on proprietary machines.

Since 2000 and before, many people have warned that the vote counting machines might not be doing exactly what they say they do.

Today's results demonstrate that the warnings are correct. A stack of 197 valid ballots was not included in Humboldt County's official count, despite the accurate work of Humboldt County's elections department.

As far as I understand, this appears to be due to an error in Premier Election System's software... an error Premier -- formerly Diebold -- may have known about.

Our Election Transparency Project completed its scan of all ballots late on Sunday, and it was clear that our count of ballots scanned did not match the count of ballots in the official results. By counting votes with Ballot Browser, open source software running on the open source platform Linux, we were quickly able to localize the problem to precinct 1E-45. This precinct turned out to include the first deck of ballots run through the Premier system, and it was not included in the results produced by Premier's software.

Has this happened in other counties? How can we know?

Our votes are too important to be counted by secret code.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Scanning is complete

The scanning process has been completed. We expect to be releasing the images within a few days. We are now doing preliminary counts on the scanned ballots, and plan to release them once we've had a chance to look over the counts.