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A absolutely cellophane adaptation would able-bodied serve democracy, decidedly accustomed AK’s abominable acclamation history…

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– Brad Friedman, The BRAD BLOG

After a anniversary of hand-counting cardboard applicant ballots in Alaska’s three-way U.S. Senate chase amid bounden Sen. Lisa Murkowski (who ran as an absolute applicant candidate), Republican applicant Joe Miller and Democratic applicant Scott McAdams, the Associate Columnist alleged the chase this afternoon for Murkowski.

Trailing by some 10,000 votes abaft Murkowski, however, and with several lawsuits apropos the blueprint of ballots still pending, Miller is suggesting it’s acceptable that his attack will alarm for a “hand count” of all of the ballots casting in the race, not aloof those in altercation during the counting of applicant ballots over the aftermost week.

Given Alaska’s years-long almanac of often-inexplicable acclamation results, activity aback at atomic as far as the 2004 Presidential Acclamation (and the aboriginal acclamation as Senator for Murkowski who had ahead been alleged by her ancestor to alter him in the U.S. Senate aback he became Governor in 2002); the afresh abortion and crisis of the state’s Diebold acclamation system; and the AK Division of Elections’ absolutely arresting history of blocking aborigine blank of acclamation after-effects — abundant of which has been authentic at The BRAD BLOG aback backward 2005 — a absolute adaptation of after-effects by the Miller aggregation would be both adapted and accessible for all approaching elections in the accompaniment (and akin for added states, area agnate nearly-impossible-to-oversee optical-scan acclamation systems are analogously used.)

We accept no authentic dog in this race, as our advantage of issues of Acclamation Candor is, as always, non-partisan. Our alone affair is for the voters, that they get to vote if they wish, that their votes are counted accurately if they do, and that the counts are performed acutely so that all citizens can apperceive that the after-effects are, indeed, accurate.

To that end, admitting we haven’t consulted anon with any of the campaigns in the Alaska race, we accept been afterward the blueprint carefully aback Acclamation Day two weeks ago, and accept been speaking with a cardinal of sources in the accompaniment who have, we’re told, been administration assorted thoughts we’ve offered with both the McAdams and Miller campaigns. The admonish we’ve offered — as we would to anyone who asked, including Murkowski’s attack — appears to accept been taken to affection by the Miller team, at atomic if one of their lawsuits, and a cardinal of their accessible statements accustomed over the aftermost anniversary are any indication.

As mentioned, Alaska’s history of acclamation after-effects that assume to baffle algebraic explanation, alternating with (understating the botheration here) beneath than cellophane processes and a abortion to accomplish recommended changes to their acclamation arrangement and procedures, leads to a case area a full, manual, adaptation of all ballots casting and counted — as alleged for by the Miller camp, or any added — would accommodate a admired account to the accompaniment and all of its voters…

On Fox “News” today, Miller said that his aggregation was reviewing the bearings to actuate whether a abounding “hand count” of all ballots will be alleged for by week’s end. An acclamation challenge cannot be filed until afterwards the chase is acutely certified by the state. “We’ll delay and see aback these numbers assuredly array out actuality at the end of the week,” he told Fox’s Neil Cavuto this afternoon. “The voters in the accompaniment of Alaska apprehend there to be candor in the process; we are activity to accompany that.”

“The action that has gone bottomward so far has been a duke calculation of the address in ballots,” he explained. “There’s not been any duke calculation of the added ballots. The added ballots accept all gone through a apparatus calculation process. The apparatus calculation historically has had inaccuracies complex in it.”

He is correct, as we’ll explain below.

Last week, Miller’s aggregation fabricated the aberration of bringing on discredited Republican accessible Floyd Brown as a spokesperson. Brown is conceivably best accepted for bearing the abominable and racially-based Willie Horton ads during the 1988 Presidential Acclamation and, added recently, as a backer in the Obama “birther” movement. As such, his aboriginal arguments out of the aboideau on Miller’s account were classic, bottomless Republican accuse of “voter fraud!” Aback then, the attack has taken a added accepted tack of ambitious accurateness and accurateness in the blueprint of results.

The attack has filed two lawsuits arise that end, to date, and now the achievability of a abounding acclamation challenge looms. There is acceptable acumen for such a contest.

Recent History of Absurd Numbers, Lack of Blank in AK Elections

The Democratic Affair in Alaska has, for years, been amid the best advancing in the nation arise gluttonous accurateness afterward baffling and absurd to baby-sit acclamation results. Beginning in aboriginal 2006, The BRAD BLOG covered, sometimes about exclusively, the years-long roller-coaster ride as the Alaska Democratic Affair (ADP) accustomed admission to database files from the state’s Diebold voting arrangement and as the accompaniment presented added arresting excuses for abstinent the affair the adapted to see the abstracts absolute the raw numbers of how voters voted as recorded by their e-voting system.

In August of this year, afterwards Murkowski arise her applicant bid afterward her accident to Miller in the GOP primary, we abundant how the acclamation was acceptable to analysis the state’s arguable Diebold system. But the history of problems in the accompaniment deserve afterpiece analysis as the Miller aggregation decides whether the numbers arise by the Division of Elections — as tallied alone by the oft-failed, easily-manipulated optical-scan systems — accurately reflect the will of the voters.

Alaska blogger and radio host Shannyn Moore accent some of these apropos beforehand today in her commodity at Huffington Post (and crossposted at “Mudflats”), but added detail, accomplishments and ambience is acceptable advantageous here.

[Brad Friedman discusses the AK Senate chase on Shannyn Moore’s radio appearance on KUDO in Alaska. Listen here.]

As The BRAD BLOG arise in February of 2006, afterwards Democrats had noticed acutely baffling numbers in the state’s 2004 acclamation results, including far beneath votes arise in final results, as compared to district-by-district tallies, and a arise 200% aborigine assembly in a cardinal of areas, afresh affair agent Kay Brown told the Anchorage Daily News: “At this point, it’s absurd to say whether the absolute candidates were declared the champ in all Alaska challenge from 2004.”

It was added than a year afterwards the election, and one of the two aloft parties in the accompaniment were clumsy to akin apperceive if the after-effects of a Presidential and U.S. Senate acclamation were accurate. No amount how one feels about Alaska’s acclamation system, that point highlights an complete abortion of it.

The ADP, as allotment of their attack to see the Diebold databases arise for accessible almanac review, acclaimed some of the rather arresting anomalies of the 2004 after-effects in a columnist absolution issued in April of 2006 alternating with a accusation [PDF] they were affected to book afterwards the accompaniment banned to about-face over the databases for inspection, claiming they were the proprietary acreage of Diebold, not the voters of the state:

The history of the action over those databases was not a appealing one, and included some amazing claims by the accompaniment (notably, beneath afresh Governor Frank Murkowski, Lisa’s father). Here’s how we abbreviated the batty aback and alternating in one of our accessories account the roller coaster as it played out over several months in 2006:

That was then. After that aforementioned year, the Democrats were balked by the Division of Elections afresh aback they’d requested to analysis the 2006 acclamation aftereffect databases, alone to be denied admitting a cloister order.

That action abundant acclamation procedures in which no aborigine care to accept confidence.

Diebold Op-Scan Arrangement Failure

Diebold’s optical-scan systems, acclimated beyond the absolute state, accept a acclaimed history of failure, from simple scanning errors, to accustomed vulnerabilities acceptance abetment of after-effects via both the accouterments and software. To abridge some of the best notable credibility in that history which are acceptable be of absorption to the Miller campaign:

Leon County, FL HackIn backward 2005, Finnish computer aegis able Harri Hursti accustomed how Diebold’s optical-scan systems could be manipulated in such a way that after-effects arise by the arrangement could be reversed. The alone way to ascertain the abetment would be to hand-count the absolute cardboard ballots. That hack, accustomed in a apish acclamation in Leon County, FL, was video taped as it happened and served as the cardinal acute arena from HBO’s Emmy-nominated 2006 documentary Hacking Democracy. (You can watch that arresting arena adapted here.) The arrangement that accustomed for that drudge is still in use in Alaska, and abundant of the blow of the country today.

Routinely Mistallied BallotsFollowing the arise agitated achievement of Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama in New Hampshire’s “first-in-the-nation” primary acclamation in January 2008, questions about the after-effects — which were in bucking to all pre-election acclamation as able-bodied as avenue acclamation taken the day of the challenge — Democratic applicant Dennis Kucinich filed for a duke account of ballots that were counted by the aforementioned blazon of Diebold op-scan systems as acclimated in Alaska’s elections — and in the Leon County, FL hack. That, afterwards a cardinal of anomalies were acclaimed in the results, including the actuality that Obama had baffled Clinton in the 40% of NH towns area hand-counts are performed, by an about analogously antipodal allotment to the one he absent to Clinton in the blow of the accompaniment area Diebold op-scanners are acclimated to account ballots.

Kucinich’s fractional hand-count revealed, as he abundant at the time, miscounts from 4.9% to 10.6% at assorted precincts aback hand-counts were compared to the aboriginal Diebold op-scan results. The blow ante were all far in balance of the accurateness amount adapted for voting systems by the federal Advice America Vote Act (HAVA). Here, for example, are the after-effects from the Kucinich-requested hand-count of Nashua’s Ward 5 precinct:

The latest tallies in the Alaska Senate chase appearance beneath than a 1% aberration amid Miller and Murkowski’s totals.

The “Deck Zero” bug

Following the Presidential Acclamation in 2008, Humboldt County, CA agitated out a a first-of-its-kind “Transparency Project” in which an accessible antecedent ballot-scanning affairs and an off-the-shelf scanner were acclimated to calculation cardboard ballots ahead counted by Diebold’s scanners. That agreement arise that hundreds of ballots had been dropped, after apprehension to arrangement operators, by the Diebold scanner.

The bug, as Diebold would after accept in a accompaniment analysis of the problem, was accepted as the “Deck Zero” bug and existed in abounding versions of Diebold’s op-scan system. Accustomed the alterity amid the arise cardinal of votes in the 2004 Presidential and Senate challenge abbreviated aloft by the ADP, as compared to the District-by-District numbers abundant in their lawsuit, a analysis to actuate if the “Deck Zero” bug came into comedy this year in the Senate chase (or in any added races, or in any antecedent elections!) is absolutely reasonable.

That aforementioned California analysis would additionally acquisition that Diebold’s analysis log arrangement analogously accustomed for analysis logs to be adapted and/or deleted by operators of the system, in abuse of federal acceptance requirements. In added words, unless Alaska is application a added adapted adaptation of the Diebold software, it’s about simple to adapt after-effects in the axial tabulator and annul about all affirmation that one has done so. Incredibly, some versions of the software akin accommodate a “Clear” button which, aback pressed, will annul analysis logs entirely, and after notice.

Did any of those things affect the after-effects of Alaska’s Senate race? It’s absurd to actuate that one way or addition after a complete duke calculation and adaptation of all ballots casting and uncast in the race.

Following the 2004 and 2006 disputes in Alaska, as able-bodied as a cardinal of accompaniment studies award austere deficiencies in the Diebold system, Alaska’s Division of Elections commissioned a “Security Project” with the University of Alaska Anchorage in adjustment to analysis the state’s acclamation system.

The project, as abundant by the University and the DoE in October of 2007, was to be implemented in four phases, with achievement in January of 2009. Based on the basic recommendations from the project, the accompaniment bent that a planned “upgrade” of the state’s Diebold systems to the newer Assure 1.2 belvedere (also fabricated by Diebold, afresh renamed as Premier Acclamation Solutions), would booty abode in 2009 afterward the 2008 Presidential Election.

This afternoon the DoE’s Executive Director, Gail Fenumiai accepted to The BRAD BLOG that that arrangement was not implemented. “We did not advancement and do not apperceive at this moment what our affairs are,” she wrote via email in acknowledgment to our query.

That may absolutely be a acceptable thing. As The BRAD BLOG arise in July of 2008, admitting 79 violations of federal acceptance standards, the U.S. Elections Assistance Agency (EAC) accustomed the new Assure 1.2 arrangement anyway. In 2009, one of the computer scientists who formed on California’s battleground “Top-to-Bottom Review” of all e-voting systems acclimated in the accompaniment (whose allegation were cited in Alaska still-unimplemented “Security Project”) objected to the EAC’s abusage of aegis abstracts from that abstraction in their federal testing and accursed the agency for accepting afield certified the Assure 1.2 arrangement at the federal akin in the bargain.

Anomalies, Adaptation and Accurateness in AK’s Senate Race

As the Anchorage Daily News credibility out today, akin if every one of the applicant ballots that the Miller aggregation is currently arduous for misspellings and added problems were absitively in his favor, the after-effects as they accepted abide — hand-counted in the case of write-ins, machine-counted in the case of all the added ballots — would still favor a Murkowski win:

Murkowski has a advance of 10,400 votes, a absolute that includes 8,153 ballots in which Miller assemblage challenged over things like misspellings, added words or accuracy issues.

Miller has filed a accusation charging that accompaniment law was abandoned aback ballots that included misspellings of Murkowski’s name were counted for her nonetheless. Alaska’s accompaniment law for counting ballots (AS 15.15.360) requires that at atomic the aftermost name of applicant candidates be accounting “as it appears on the applicant acknowledgment of candidacy” on the ballot. The rules as spelled out in the statutes are “mandatory and there are no exceptions to them”. They added specify that “A acclamation may not be counted unless apparent in acquiescence with these rules.” Case law, however, as interpreted by the courts activity aback as far as 1998 has reportedly accustomed a added advanced “voter intent” base for free the authority of applicant ballots. Miller’s suit, charging the DoE abandoned the aphorism of law is still pending.

[UPDATE 11/20/10: Federal adjudicator rules for Miller, briefly halts acceptance of chase as catechism of acclamation misspellings is adjourned to accompaniment court. Details now here…]

But akin if Miller were arrive in that case, as the Anchorage Daily News describes, he’d still accept to acquisition added votes miscounted adjoin him, or votes for him that were not counted at all. On that closing point, his acknowledged aggregation has filed a additional clothing gluttonous analysis of poll rosters to actuate if the cardinal of votes cast, as reflected by those who active into polling places to vote, is the aforementioned as the cardinal of ballots absolutely tabulated, unlike, apparently, the cases in 2004 that Democrats approved for so continued to reconcile.

The Division of Elections nixed Miller’s antecedent accessible annal appeal to analysis the poll books, but has aback agreed to acquiesce them to analysis some of those poll rosters. (We haven’t had time yet to actuate how the DoE will actuate which poll books the attack will be accustomed to analysis and which ones they won’t — admitting it absolutely seems they care to be accustomed to analysis every one of them, if they are to be able to accommodate the after-effects of the acclamation to actuate if it has been accurately tabulated.)

A account arise by the Miller attack today additionally addendum that they’ve asked to analysis poll tapes, the arbitrary calculation of all ballots scanned, as printed by the precinct-based op-scan machines at the end of Acclamation Night. “So far the Division of Elections has bootless to acknowledge to the Miller appeal for these tapes,” the account reads.

Another abeyant red-flag suggesting the call of abounding adaptation was acclaimed by Shannyn Moore in her blog account today. She says that the assembly for this year’s chase was lower than ability accept contrarily been accepted accustomed the almighty aerial absorption the three-way Senate race, featuring two Republicans in a year with ample GOP turnout, received:

It’s aberrant that Anchorage appearances by both Rachel Maddow and Glenn Beck accoutrement the aerial contour chase had such a air-conditioned aftereffect on voters. It’s analytical that the abandoned gubernatorial race, reportedly, had several hundred added votes recorded than the attention-grabbing U.S. Senate race.

Moore added addendum the aberration of Acclamation Night aftereffect averages actual about absolutely the aforementioned all black as allotment were advancing in from beyond the assorted state:

Furthermore, as allotment from about the accompaniment caked in on acclamation night, the percentages amid candidates in statewide challenge never afflicted throughout the evening-despite Juneau, for instance, actuality ideologically adverse of Wasilla.

Indeed a analysis of results, as acquaint contemporaneously that night by Alaskan blogger Jeanne “AKMuckraker” Devon who was alive blogging them from Acclamation Axial in Anchorage as they were actuality adapted on November 2nd, appearance a abnormally baby change in boilerplate after-effects in the Senate chase throughout the night. Actuality are the specific numbers as she arise them on her blog “Mudflats” that evening:

27% advertisement (first after-effects posted)Write-In: 39%Miller (R): 34%McAdams (D): 25%

34% advertisement (9:31pm)”Those numbers are captivation beyond the board…Southeast Alaska and rural areas accept not arise in yet.”

40% advertisement (9:49pm)”And still they authority at 40% returns.”

68% advertisement (10:52pm)Write-In 39.33%Miller (R): 35.32%McAdams (D): 24.36%

78% advertisement (12:00am)Write-in: 39.96%Miller (R): 34.89%McAdams (D): 24.15%

It’s accessible that the vote calculation could accurately abide as constant as that all night, admitting it’s absolutely addition acumen that a abounding adaptation of ballots, by hand, would be appropriate, if alone to put such questions to rest.

In Miller’s columnist absolution today, agent Randy DeSoto says: “Our attack has affidavit affidavits anecdotic apart acclamation boxes, added precincts area abundant ballots arise to be in the aforementioned handwriting, others area there is 100% aborigine assembly and still added precincts area the ballots were beatific to the Division of Elections presorted by U.S. Senate candidate. These and added irregularities accord our attack pause. Alaskans charge be able to assurance the after-effects of its elections.”

The account goes on to note: “Additionally, the Murkowski applicant ballots accept undergone a duke calculation analysis area baby ballots are actuality counted for her, admitting the Miller ballots accept all been counted by apparatus with abounding authentic ballots not actuality included.”

On that point, the Miller aggregation is correct. Murkowski’s ballots accept been reviewed, appropriately so, by hand, by animal beings. Miller’s (and McAdams’) accept not. They should be. If a chiral analysis of ballots is “Democracy’s Gold Standard” aback it comes to reviewing the abutting of elections, absolutely such a analysis is adapted for any acclamation in which the after-effects are in question. To that end, Miller would absolutely be assuming a account to all voters in Alaska — and elsewhere, area agnate computer tabulators are used, rather than the added authentic assay of ballots by animal beings — in calling for a abounding adaptation of the acclamation results.

In that effort, Miller’s affected should additionally accomplish actual accessible annal requests for receipts from the acclamation press houses to actuate how abounding ballots were printed. For anniversary precinct, a abounding adaptation of voted ballots, baby ballots and unvoted ballots should be performed, as anniversary acclamation printed should be absolutely accounted for, and accurately tallied.

Every footfall of the action should be 100% cellophane to all candidates, all voters and every aborigine who has a pale in the aftereffect of the election. Nonetheless, over the years, whenever The BRAD BLOG has acicular out such apropos about assorted elections, we’ve been accused of forwarding some “conspiracy theory” or addition about some applicant or voting apparatus aggregation accepting “stolen the election!” We accept never done so, nor are we accomplishing so now. We are alone pointing out the call of the checks and balances adapted for absolute aborigine blank in adjustment to assure authentic self-governance. We are alleging no conspiracies of any affectionate — aloof in case that’s cryptic to some of you.

When the AK Division of Elections arise the accomplish they were demography to accommodated the recommendations of the University of Alaska’s “Security Project” in 2008, Acclamation Systems Manager Shelly Growden was quoted [PDF] as saying: “The Division and our agents are committed to administering impartial, defended and authentic elections.”

While “impartial, defended and authentic elections” are acutely key goals for every election, there is one chat larboard out of that byword which is adapted to assure that elections are absolutely “impartial, defended and accurate”. That chat is “transparency”. After transparency, none of us can apperceive if any acclamation was conducted impartially, deeply or accurately. In a democracy, cipher should anytime be asked to artlessly assurance in acclamation admiral that it was. Indeed, one of the items alleged for in AK’s “Security Project” was a analysis of “methods to assure [the] arrangement from awful assembly gluttonous to affect [the] acclamation outcome.”

Alaska itself accustomed that acclamation admiral are not to be alone trusted. We’ve had absolutely abundant of “faith-based elections” in this country.

Alaska’s clue almanac on the acclamation accurateness advanced is actual poor. Such that the Joe Miller attack can advice attain the much-needed accurateness through a abounding adaptation of all ballots casting in his state’s U.S. Senate race, he’ll be accomplishing a account for his voters, and all voters alike, as able-bodied as for the account of capitalism in these United States.

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