Archive for April, 2014

Unity for Victory Spring Dinner

Now is the time to demonstrate our united support for the strong ticket which can and will win in November. On June 1, candidates and activists will come together at the Laborers’ Hall in Urbana, Illinois for the spring dinner of the Champaign County Democratic Party. Confirmed speakers at this point include Lieutenant Governor Candidate Paul Vallas, State Treasurer Candidate Mike Frerichs, Congressional Candidates Ann Callis (13th) and Eric Thorsland (15th), and State Representative Candidate Carol Ammons (103rd).

Other prominent candidates and potential speakers include U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, Governor Pat Quinn, Secretary of State Jesse White, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, and Comptroller Candidate Sheila Simon. Watch this site for the latest information as it becomes available.

As always, proceeds from this event will be used for our local operating expenses and for GOTV efforts which benefit all candidates. This dinner is an opportunity for unions, progressive groups, and all local Democrats to exchange views with our candidates as they begin their general election campaigns.

Use this Dinner Order Form for complete information. Act now to reserve your seat ad dinner and receive the pre-payment discount.

Issues Remain with Official Results of March 2014 Primary Elections

By April 1, 2014, the Champaign County Clerk had determined that election day issues. which required an unprecedented county-wide retabulation of Democratic Primary ballots to correct, had in fact been resolved; and that the official results were now “100 percent accurate”. The official canvass was certified, the final summary report was prepared, and the results were proclaimed and delivered to the State Board of Elections as required by law. The Board is required to complete its own canvass of these results by Friday, April 18.

The question today for the Board and the public is: Are the results from Champaign County “100 percent accurate”? Unfortunately, they are not.

To confirm this statement, first be assured that when a voting machine accepts a ballot on election day, that machine must account for every vote in every contest on that ballot. It records valid votes, an over-vote (too many ovals filled), or under-votes (ovals left blank) for each race. Even if a contest has no candidate, it is not ignored. Instead, that uncontested race generates one under-vote. The formula is always: Processed votes = (votes + over-votes + under-votes). Also, the precinct total of ballots processed for any contest in the Democratic Primary can never exceed the total number of Democratic ballots cast in that precinct (shown at the top of each precinct report). Of course, the same is true for the Republican Primary. With this in mind, here are several anomalies apparent in the official precinct reports from the website of the Champaign County Clerk (links provided).

In Cunningham 14, there were 243 Democratic ballots processed, but 244 ballots were processed for the Democratic precinct committee candidate.

In City of Champaign 5, nine Democratic ballots total were processed, nine (combined) for the three candidates for Congress in the 13th District, and nine for the unopposed State Central Committeewoman in that district. But sixteen ballots were processed for the unopposed State Central Committeeman in that district. Since State Central Committeewoman and Committeeman are always paired, this should never happen. This situation recurs in Condit, but there three extra ballots were purportedly processed for State Central Committeewoman.

A bizarre situation exists in Cunningham 17, a precinct split between the 13th and 15th Congressional Districts. The unopposed Democratic candidates for Congress and State Committeeman in the 15th District had zero ballots processed – not surprising, since there were only two registered voters in that small area at the close of regular registration. But the Democratic Candidate for State Central Committeewoman had 63 ballots processed from that sparsely-inhabited area, and was credited with 44 actual votes!

Remarkably, these anomalies exist in the Republican Primary reports as well, contrary to the Clerk’s assurances that only the Democratic ballots were miscounted on election day.

In City of Champaign 34, 229 total Republican ballots were processed, but 243 materialized for the Precinct Committee candidate.

In Champaign 5, 348 total Republican ballots were processed, but only 347 for County Clerk, and 341 for their Precinct Committee candidate.

Finally, there is a special issue on the Republican Primary ballot which should be addressed promptly. The Honorable Lisa Holder White (Republican, Macon County) sought the nomination of her party for a 10 year term on the Fourth District Appellate Court. She was unopposed in the primary. However, the summary report assigns her 11,248 votes cast for her in Champaign County to a non-existent race for a seat on the Circuit Court. (No candidate filed for the Democratic party nomination, and the resulting under-votes are properly assigned to the Democratic Appellate Court contest).

It must be understood that all these examples are discrepancies, not facts. This means, for example, that no one claims that forty-four wraiths rose from the fields of northeast Urbana to vote at the Civic Center. However, they do serve as contradictions, which are routinely used in logic and mathematics to expose and disprove faulty assumptions. In this case, the faulty assumption is that the revised, official results for either party’s Primary Election in Champaign County is “100 percent accurate”.

The State Board of Elections should refrain from certifying the flawed results from Champaign County and including them in district totals until the county’s ballot processing issues have been identified and resolved.

March, 2014 Primary Election Issues

Two questions frequently asked about Incorrect Election Results Trigger County Wide Recount:

HOW ARE VOTES COUNTED ON ELECTION DAY?

All votes in Champaign County are recorded on paper ballots, which are machine scanned and tabulated. Each tabulating machine accounts for every ballot processed, reports results for each precinct assigned to it, and records for all contests in that precinct the valid votes counted, the invalid over-votes rejected, and any blank (under-votes) ignored for that contest. This information is recorded on the same sealed computer memory device which contains information required by the tabulator, especially the electronic descriptions of the various ballot styles assigned to that machine. After the polls close, the machine prints paper reports immediately for retention by the judges of election and any authorized poll-watchers. The judges of election (who are appointed by the Chairs of the two leading established parties) then remove the memory device and paper ballots, seal them in the presence of the poll-watchers, and immediately transport them to the Election Authority (in Champaign County, that is the County Clerk). There, under the supervision of the Authority, teams of election judges and workers from both parties receive, process, and store the election materials. The memory devices are read by a computer which uses software certified by the State Board of Elections to aggregate the data and produce the unofficial election results released on election night. The memory devices and paper ballots are sealed and secured to await any post-processing required. This includes machine re-tabulations and manual ballot counts on machines randomly selected by the State Board of Elections.

WHAT HAPPENED IN MARCH 2014?

The basic procedures above worked well in Champaign County throughout the era of punch cards (“chad” to the contrary notwithstanding), and, until now, were remarkably efficient with the current generation scanner technology. On March 18, 2014, the process was completed around 10pm, and the unofficial results produced at that time seemed plausible to everyone at the processing center. Of course, attention was focused on the critical races on both partisan ballots. It was morning before the irregularities in minor contests were identified. Then followed the events described in our post, which were widely reported in the press.

On Monday, March 24, the Clerk determined that the issues were isolated to the bottom of the Democratic Primary Ballot, and that by re-programming the tabulators with ballot definitions properly synchronized with the paper ballots, then re-processing all the Democratic Primary ballots, all symptoms would disappear. After the recount, updated unofficial results were posted, and he reassured voters that “we just went through a monumental effort to reissue these to make sure they’re 100 percent accurate”, and that new procedures would preclude these issues from recurring in the future. On April 1, the outstanding absentee and provisional ballots were absorbed, and the official results were proclaimed by posting them to the Champaign County Clerk’s official website and transmitting them to the State Board of Elections, as required by law. The Board will conduct its own certification procedures and incorporate Champaign County results with those from other counties by Friday, April 28, 2014.