Secretary of State Hall of Shame

1. Examples of Secretaries of State who have undermined election integrity.

A. Katherine Harris (Florida 2000)

i. In addition to being Florida Secretary of State in 2000 (Bush v. Gore election that came down to Florida), Harris was a co-chair of the Bush-Cheney campaign in Florida.

ii. Harris is best known for the butterfly ballot debacle.

iii. But Harris also mistakenly PURGED 1100 voters from the voter rolls in Florida; may well have tipped the race given that the presidency was decided by 537 votes in that state,

Katherine Harris, the former SOS of FLA, which handed Bush the presidency by just 537 votes, “mistakenly” purged 1100 voters from the voter rolls. …

iv. In the 2000 election, a Global Election Systems VOTING MACHINE in Harris’s state of Florida SUBTRACTED 16k GORE VOTES;

Few realize that a Global/Diebold EVM inexplicably lost 16k Gore votes in Volusia County, Florida in 2000. …

Internal Global/Diebold memos acknowledged the Volusia error but did not explain it …

v. Several months before the 2000 election, JEFFREY DEAN, a man convicted of sophisticated computer crimes became the MAJORITY OWNER and Sr. VP of Global, the vendor of the machine that lost 16k Gore votes in Florida.

In 2000, Global brought on FELON Jeffrey Dean (embezzlement & ALTERING COMPUTER RECORDS) & made him SR VP …

J. Dean of Global/Diebold was no ordinary criminal; his crimes involved a “HIGH DEGREE OF SOPHISTICATION.” …

vi. Dean, in turn, brought his friend, another convicted felon JOHN ELDER, to oversee PUNCH CARD PRINTING.

Soon after hiring Dean, Global hired a convicted drug trafficker to oversee punch card printing …

vii. Election Integrity advocate & author BEVERLY HARRIS is the one who discovered Jeffrey Dean’s history and position at Global, though Wired, Vanity Fair, a NYT editorial, and the AP picked up her scoop.

viii. Harris also refused to extend the recount deadlines with an unofficial gap of 288 votes.

viii. Although there was a “RECOUNT” that declared Bush the winner by 537 votes, a survey conducted on behalf of the Washington Post showed that Gore had a 3–1 majority among 56k discounted FLA ballots.

B. Ken Blackwell (Ohio Secretary of State 2004)

i. Blackwell was most recently a member of Trump’s voter suppression commission.

ii. But he was also aCAMPAIGN CO-CHAIR for Bush in Ohio 2004 and Ohio’s Secretary of State in 2004 (Bush v. Kerry).

iii. “accidentally” released 5.7 million Ohio voters’ SS#s

iv. As SOS, Blackwell fought for PAPERLESS (unverifiable) voting machines even though paperless machines make it impossible to conduct a hand recount, which means there is no way to verify that no tampering occurred;

v. Blackwell was later forced to admit that he OWNED STOCK in Diebold Election Systems, a now notorious vendor of PAPERLESS voting machines, when he negotiated to buy Diebold machines for Ohio. (via @blmohr)

vi. Blackwell also tried to BLOCK EXIT POLLS, but lost in court.

In 2004 election, Ohio Secty of State Blackwell tried to BLOCK EXIT POLLS (but lost in court). …

vii. Blackwell hired Karl Rove’s IT guru to create a BACKUP SERVER that routed Ohio’s results through a Republican run server (Smartech) in Tennessee;

Rove’s IT guru, Connell, created a 2004 election night “backup” server for OH Secty of State Blackwell. …

“Connell was the Bush campaign’s chief IT strategist.” …

Connell was to “create a ‘mirror site’ [backup server]” in case “official OH servers were overwhelmed” …

“Smartech of Chattanooga, Tenn., was retained to provide [the] BACKUP server.” …

Smartech had been PAID more than $72,000 by the Bush campaign. See screenshot below. …

the SmarTech site [in Tennessee] went into action at 11:14 p.m. on Election Day.” …

Wired also confirmed that in 04, the OH Secty State website routed election results thru Smartech in Tennessee. …

The transfer of OH’s vote count 2 the backup server remains a mystery bc there’s no evidence OH’s system failed …

Connell swore under oath that, ‘To the best of my knowledge, it was not a fail-over case scenario…” …

Bob Magnan, a state IT specialist for the OH Secty State in 2004 “agreed that there was no failover scenario”. …

Magnan was “unexpectedly sent home at 9 pm on election night & private contractors ran the system 4 Blackwell.” …

viii. Exit polls from 2004 election

“Late on Election Day, John Kerry showed an insurmountable lead in exit polling…” …

Yet final vote tallies in 30 states deviated widely from exit polls, w/ discrepancy favoring Bush in all but 9 …

“The greatest disparities [in 04] were concentrated in battleground states — particularly Ohio.” …

In one Ohio precinct,exit polls gave Kerry “67 % of the vote, but the certified tally gave him only 38%.” …

C. John Husted (Ohio Secretary of State 2016 & current)

i. Husted turned off function allowing preservation of voting machine BALLOT IMAGES, an important audit function.

In November 2016, OH Secty of State Husted assured everyone the voting machines had paper audit function. …

But OH Secty State Husted allowed counties 2 TURN OFF the voting machines’ paper audit function W/O EXPLANATION. …

EI advocate Bob Fitrakis sued Husted 2 turn voting machine audit function back on. Judge David Cain (R) called suit “frivolous …

D. John Merrill (Alabama Secretary of State, current)

i. Merrill destroyed voting machine BALLOT IMAGES before the recent Doug Jones v. Roy Moore election.

ii. Election integrity advocate John Brakey & others spearheaded a suit to compel Merrill preserve the images, but Merrill defeated it in the AL Supreme Court (after an initial order requiring him to preserve the images).

A Repub., a Dem., an Independent, & a minister have filed a LAWSUIT to compel ALABAMA SOS John Merrill to PRESERVE the DIGITAL BALLOT IMAGES that r generated automatically by AL’s VOTING MACHINES. The images can help verify the machine tally

“Not only did Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, the state’s top election official, oppose a simple transparency measure [preserving the ballot images that are part of the voting machine audit trail]. He fought it tooth and nail.” #ProtectOurVotes

iii. Ballots images are important because they can show if PAPER BALLOTS ALTERED between the election and any recount (to either match or not match the machine result) and also allow CITIZEN OVERSIGHT/TRANSPARENCY via citizen recounts.

2. Examples of Secretaries of State who have improved election integrity and what they did?

A. Democrat Jennifer Brunner (Ohio 2008) cleaned up after Blackwell.

B. Virginia’s Democratic governor Terry McCauliffe and State Election Board (which is majority Democrat) banned paperless voting machines in the state before the recent special elections. (In Virginia, the governor and State Board of Elections, rather than a Secty of State, seem to be in charge of managing elections.)

C. After the ban on paperless machines, Virginia now runs its paper ballots through OPTICAL SCANNERS.

·D. Even Virginia, still needs improvement. Like most states, VA doesn’t have a law requiring ROBUST HAND AUDITS after every election. Even the RECOUNTS are mostly by MACHINE (with exceptions for absentee ballots and provisionals). They should be by HAND.

3. Question: Back to bad Secretaries of State, I understand there’s an effort to recall Georgia’s Secretary of State Brian Kemp. What can you tell me about him?


A. Voter purger — before the GA06 election, more than 380,000 voters received purge notices.

B. Similar to Blackwell, Kemp “accidentally” released private info on 6 million voters, including SS# and DL#s

C. Under Kemp, GA was one of only 2 states that declined help from the DHS to improve security of its election system before the 2016 election.

Citing “states’ rights,” Kemp rejected DHS’s offer help to secure GA’s election system in August 2016.

D. Kemp did not fire Merl King, the head of Georgia’s Elections Center, despite TWO major breaches of its election management system: one before the 2016 general election and another shortly before the GA06 election. The system was left unprotected online for months. Even after the first breach, the Center did not (for the most part) correct the problem.

E. Election Management Systems are a major target for hackers because they are the ballot programming computers. If someone infects the USB stick or memory card that transfers the ballot program to the voting machines, all voting machines would be affected.

IT expert Alex Halderman: Ballot-programming computers can be hacked, infecting USB sticks or memory cards that transfer the program 2 voting machines.

F. Kemp insisted on using paperless machines for the GA06 election, despite the two security breaches and despite the theft of several electronic poll books from someone’s car in a parking lot before the election. He defeated the paper ballot suit on a technicality.

4. Question: Why did the GA06 election receive so much attention?

A. It was the first realistic chance after Trump’s election to “flip” a red seat blue and thus was seen as a “REFERENDUM” on Trump

B. MOST EXPENSIVE house race of all time

The GA06 special election was the most expensive House race of all time. …

C. At a time when the U.S. was engrossed in RUSSIA’S “HACKING” of the 2016 election, it didn’t go over well that GA is one of just 5 states to use paperless machines.

As noted in the suit, GA is 1 of just 5 states that exclusively use touchscreen machines w/ NO PAPER AUDIT TRAIL. …

D. Election integrity advocate MARILYN MARKS filed a paper ballot suit before the election and thus brought much needed attention to the UNVERIFIABLE nature of Georgia’s paperless machines.

E. Paperless machines are UNVERIFIABLE because there is no paper that can be checked against the machine tally to see if the machine was hacked.

F. Final polls had Ossoff and Handel separated by less than .1%.

G. But Handel officially won by 5%

H. The Georgia election center WIPED ITS SERVER days after Marilyn Marks filed the GA06 election challenge.

5. Question: What would you recommend to states hoping to improve their election security for 2018? You want hand marked paper ballots right? I know you’ve said that paper ballots are necessary but not sufficient. What do you mean by that?

A. Overall, we need LAWS (that do not currently exist) allowing for meaningful HAND counting of hand marked paper ballots. If we don’t get to count the paper, the machines might as well be paperless.

B. More specifically, we need laws requiring:

* ROBUST hand audits after EVERY ELECTION,

* Full hand recounts if the audit suggests the scanner tally was incorrect,

* Preservation of voting machine BALLOT IMAGES.

C. We also need laws requiring that, before precinct level results are sent to the tabulators, they must be posted outside the precinct for the public to see. That way if there is any alteration of vote totals at the tabulators, it can be detected.

6. Question: Why do the ballot images matter?

A. They protect the CHAIN OF CUSTODY between the election and any audit and/or recount. If the PAPER BALLOTS are ALTERED to either match the initial count or to differ from it, the images would show that. That’s why it’s so disturbing to have Secretaries of State like JOHN MERRILL in Alabama and JOHN HUSTED in Ohio who DESTROY THEM.

Voting machines are the electronic equivalent of counting ballots BEHIND CLOSED DOORS. Anything we can do to bring in public oversight and transparency should be done because democracy itself is at stake.



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Jennifer Cohn

Jennifer Cohn

Attorney and Election Integrity Advocate #ProtectOurVotes #PaperBallotsNow @jennycohn1