Cops Canvass Report Audit Trail

This is a section of the Cops Canvass Report. See also San Diego County Canvass Procedure

Audit Trail

Transparent and verifiable elections are essential to the operation of any democracy. To instill these qualities our elections procedures, it should be possible for an outside organization to audit the results, with minimal cost, difficulty, and delay. Such transparency is far from the reality of our elections process today, rendering a complete review of the even the count of the ballots processed nearly impossible.

The following suggestions would improve the ability of an organization like COPs to provide desperately needed outside oversight of the operation of elections in San Diego County:

Issue A002 - Public Posting of Audit Trail

The paper audit trail should be posted on the Internet on election night by elections officials so anyone can review it. Currently, oversight groups must access physical documents themselves or pay to have them scanned. Documents such as: Ballot Statements, Audit Log, Chain of Custody Report (disposition of all seals), and the Reconciliation Report are essential and should exist and be provided on the Ro V website to allow the public to easily access it.

  • Issue A002: Proposal to Ro V
    Post all elements of the audit trail, such as Ballot Statements, Audit Log, Chain of Custody Report (disposition of all seals), and the Reconciliation Report, as soon as the information is available (not after the certification of the election), in electronic form, and preferably on your public web site. Scan and make available image files for all ballots for review by the public, as suggested by the Open Canvass proposal.

  • Issue A002: Legislative
    Transparent and verifiable elections are integral to our democracy. Documentation of all elements of the audit trail, such as Ballot Statements, Audit Log, Chain of Custody Report (disposition of all seals), and the Reconciliation Report should be available on the Ro V website for review by oversight groups. The Audit Log should be improved, as is mentioned in the section Audit Log Discrepancies, and posted in its entirety.

Issue A023 - Documents Automatically Processable

Documents that are considered public, such as Ballot Statements, Street Indexes, and others should be automatically processable to minimize oversight costs. These documents should not have additional tabs, "sticky notes", or writing on the back added to them by poll workers and they should be of a size appropriate for automatic scanning equipment. For example, tabs effectively limit the ability for automatic document feeding equipment to operate on the documents and thus increase the cost for an outside organization to gather this information.

  • Issue A023: Question to Ro V
    Public documents, such as Ballot Statements, Street Indexes, and others, should not have additional tabs, "sticky notes", or writing on the back added to them by poll workers and they should be of a size appropriate for automatic scanning equipment. Instead, workers can use separation sheets with tabs to expedite flipping to the correct page. Notes pages should be provided and precinct workers trained to add any notes on the front of those pages, and not using tabs or sticky notes.

  • Issue A023: Legislative
    To make oversight of elections processes economically feasible, all public documents should be of appropriate sizes for automatic scanning, and there should be no tabs or other additions to those documents that will make manual scanning necessary.

Issue A009 - Ballot Statements Not Scannable

The Ro V claims that it is illegal to scan the Ballot Statements in their entirety because the signatures of volunteers and staff members who complete the Ballot Statements would be publicized. Citizens reject this claim and want these documents scanned in their entirety and placed on a public website. These are public documents and it is a violation of the CPRA not to produce them in their entirety for public review.

  • Issue A009: Proposal to Ro V
    Change procedure when this issue is settled and described by the Elections Code.

  • Issue A009: Legislative
    This issue needs to be settled by statute since the Ro V now claims that signatures of elections workers that authenticate the document are private and cannot be disclosed. Citizens want this issue settled by improving the Elections Code to explicitly state that the Ballot Statements (and all similar documents) will be scanned and accessible to the public.

Issue A024 - Scanner Tapes Not Accessible

Scanner report tapes are no longer available early in the canvass. According to state election code, a second copy of the scanner report was required to be printed when these scanners were used in each precinct, with that report being displayed outside the precinct door for anyone to inspect. However, the printing of the second report is no longer a practice when they are used in the Tally Center. This means we have to wait until the election is certified before we can start to review the election, which is an artificial restriction. The Ro V did make the original reports available for inspection, and we scanned the reports from 5% of the precincts in our review.

  • Issue A024: Question to Ro V
    Please make the tapes accessible early in the election, as a last resort for our oversight review. See Audit Trail for a complete review of this issue.

  • Issue A024: Legislative
    To aid oversight groups to track election processing, the following should be corrected:
    • Scanner Reports Available as soon as they are produced.
    • Scanner Reports Easily processable (i.e. not register tape).
    • Scanner Reports provided in electronic form.
    • OR: Improved Audit Log (detailing the exact vote of each precinct, the same as the scanner reports) in electronic format which is available immediately as the canvass is processed. See Audit Trail for a complete review of this issue.

Issue A025 - Scanner Tapes Difficult to Process

The audit trail provided by the current Ro V procedures include cash-register style paper tape which is difficult to process and sometimes impossible to read. Transparency of our Ro V procedures demands an audit trail that is much easier to process. Scanner reports should be produced on paper that is easily processable (such as cut-sheet letter paper) and with higher resolution printers that do not suffer from feed errors or light printing. These reports then can be easily scanned by oversight teams. (This suggestion is not essential if the audit log is improved or audit devices installed.) See Audit Trail and also Issue A023: Documents Automatically Processable, Issue A024: Scanner Tapes Not Accessible, Issue A018: Audit Log Insufficient, and Issue A029: Audit Devices Should be Allowed.

Issue A017 - Scanner cards not Archived

Memory cards used to capture the vote from each scanner are not maintained as a permanent record of the election. It is too difficult to access data to reconstruct the election. At present, the only option for oversight groups is to scan the report tapes produced by the ballot scanners, and these do not include any VBM or provisional ballots. If the memory cards were archived, then oversight groups would be able to reconstruct the election results based on those cards without needing to resort to scanning the scanner reports. Such oversight is a check of election manipulation within the GEMS central tabulator. Note: It is preferable and less expensive for elections officials for oversight groups have access to a complete audit log. (i.e. including all information downloaded from the scanners, not just the count of ballots) and including the VBM and Provisional ballots scanned. (See Issue A018: Audit Log Insufficient and Issue A029: Audit Devices Should be Allowed)

  • Issue A017: Question to Ro V
    If a complete audit log is not available (Issue A018), and if no audit devices are allowed to collect all information transferred to the central tabulator (Issue A029: Audit Devices Should be Allowed), the Ro V should archive the scanner memory cards so these can be accessed by oversight groups to easily reconstruct the results of the election for a sample without needing to scan the report tapes from the scanners, and use memory cards for all scanning operations.

  • Issue A017: Legislative
    If the complete audit log is not available (Issue A018), and if no audit devices are allowed to collect all information transferred to the central tabulator, elections officials should be required to archive the scanner memory cards as a record of the election so these can be accessed by oversight groups to easily reconstruct the results of the election for a sample without needing to scan the report tapes from the scanners.

Issue A029 - Audit Devices Should be Allowed

If no improvement to the audit log is possible, then audit devices should be placed on the serial interface cables that supply data to the central tabulator to allow a log of all communication from all scanner and DRE equipment to the central tabulator. Data from those audit devices would allow an oversight activity to reconstruct the election and guard against tabulator-based election manipulation by unauthorized elections workers, and can eliminate the need to scan scanner report tapes and other difficult to process documents.

  • Issue A029: Proposal to Ro V
    The use of audit devices on the serial interface cables is the easiest way that you can provide for complete oversight while not changing current operations. It is preferable to improve the Audit Log, because that does not require any audit devices. Short of that, placing audit devices on serial interface cables will allow oversight groups to capture all communication on the line in both directions and save it into a memory device.

  • Issue A029: Legislative
    If an exhausting audit log is not possible to create, then it should be possible to install audit devices on the serial interface cables on all scanner and other vote counting equipment to allow exhaustive inspection of the vote-count data being sent to the central tabulator. Such audit devices can significantly improve the reliability of the canvass and guard against manipulation of the vote count by compromised elections workers working using the central tabulation equipment or due to programming or innocent ballot handling errors.

Issue A027 - No Operator Notes

A log of all operator activities should be maintained that explains the rationale for re-scans, etc. At present, no operator log is maintained while 133 re-runs occurred with no explanation.

Related Issues
The following issues are related to this category but are fully described in another Issues of Concern category:

  • Issue A018: Audit Log Insufficient
    The audit record available from the GEMS Central Tabulator does not provide sufficient detail to reconstruct the election.

  • Issue A020: No Log of changes to the Election Management System
    The Election Management Systems is updated when a VBM ballot is received. However, there is no audit log of each transaction.

  • Issue A028: No Reconciliation Report
    A reconciliation report should be provided that includes an explanation for any irregularities and provides a means to document that the canvass is complete.

  • Issue A030: No Paper Trail for VBM and Provisionals
    Unlike ballots processed on election night, no scanner reports are produced and ballots are read directly into the central tabulator.

  • Issue A039: Tally Sheets too big to process automatically
    The Post-Election Manual Tally (PEMT) should use paper that is easily processed by automatic document feeding equipment.

  • Issue A040: PEMT Reports Incomplete
    The PEMT should produce a report for every race and every precinct, as suggested by the So S.

  • Issue C001: Logic & Accuracy Testing Not Witnessed by COPs
    Logic & Accuracy Testing Procedures not witnessed nor video recorded by our project team.

  • Issue C001: Question to Ro V
    Please provide advance notice to our project team so we may witness and video record Logic & Accuracy Testing.

We would also like the actual ballots completely imaged and provided to the public in a timely fashion. For more information on this proposal see Open Canvass, a method to completely image the ballots in the election and allow public review in a timely fashion.

Audit Trail Options

There are a number of options that must be emphasized with regard the audit trail. The following options are mutually exclusive, i.e. we need only one, and they are listed in the order of preference. The goal of these options is to allow the entire election to be reconstructed by oversight groups.
  1. Complete Audit Log (See Issue A018 - Audit Log Insufficient) -- This will allow oversight groups to completely reconstruct the election inexpensively and relatively easily. This is the best option that may be available if the Ro V had documentation on the GEMS audit log and the options available. If not already available as an option in the GEMS central tabulator equipment, the software should be improved to provide this function.
  2. Audit devices allowed (See Issue A029 - Audit Devices Should be Allowed) -- Will allow complete reconstruction of the election but will impose the cost of the audit devices and require that they are installed on all serial cables.
  3. Scanner memory cards available and used for all scanning. These memory cards can be used to reconstruct the election only if they are used for all scanning and they must be available for audit:
  4. Scanner Tapes must be complete and processable, the following must be addressed:

Next Section: Issues Summary
Topic revision: r16 - 2016-12-24, RaymondLutz
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