Adams 2015 CORA Conversation

What follows is a conversation between Harvie Branscomb and Stan Martin, Adams County Clerk and Recorder and Christi Coburn, Chief Deputy, Adams County:

For the full CORA request email click here: Adams County CORA Request

CORA request for ballot pdfs to Adams County records custodian
 Wed, 14 Oct 2015 14:46:24 -0600
 To  Stan Martin, Adams County Clerk and Recorder
 (Clear Ballot Group voting system)

Dear Clerk and Recorder or other records custodian if applicable:

Stan, thanks for your  extra efforts at transparency.

Your county is piloting a new voting system in the November 2015 Coordinated Election.  This email serves as a Colorado Open Records Request for electronic copies of the original pdfs (or if not pdf, the applicable graphic source format) used to print unvoted paper ballots for your election.  This request encompasses ballots for all precincts, styles, voting methods (in-person, by mail/drop-off, emergency, UOCAVA, provisional, replacement) and any others such as specially printed test ballots but only if they in any way have different content. I do not request duplicate sets of pdfs used for e.g. replacement and mail if they are identical. Note however that ballot on demand source files may be different and if so, I am including them in my request.
  
 Note that this is not a request for a pdf created from a scan of the paper form of the ballot - this is for the source file used to create the ballots. Please advise me if the vendor requires a multipage pdf with a page for each instance of printed ballot or for any other reason the data capacity of my records request is too large for email fulfillment.

Although I am not required to explain my intention, I find it beneficial and good manners to do so.  I will be using the pdfs of the unvoted ballots as part of a technical process to independently audit the election and perform an evaluation of the voting system  using scans produced by the voting system to be obtained under CORA after certification as referred to below. Please discuss with me any concerns you have over the possibility that these pdfs could be used to create ballots that would be returned in your election or any other similar concerns that would present obstacles to fulfillment. I am prepared to take create an assurance that unexpected ballots will not result including by delaying the fulfillment of the request until Nov. 4.

This email also serves as a presumably helpful advance notice of my intention to CORA request 1) electronic scans produced by the voting equipment used in the pilot election of all the tabulated ballots returned in the 2015 Coordinated election  as soon as C.R.S. 24-72-205.5 allows. I will also be requesting 2) the "cast vote records" or other record of vote patterns recorded per ballot by the voting system. I will also be asking for 3) a newly created electronic color scan copy of each ballot that was duplicated prior to scanning for tabulation.

For requests 1) and 2) these files should be produced in the format and organization defined by the voting system. Only the fulfillment of request 3) will be the result of a scan not performed originally for tabulation. For all three requests I request no reformatting be done other than minimal redaction by adding a black area to an otherwise original graphic file to cover the privacy impinging mark(s) if any. I also ask that each instance of redaction be logged in a note to accompany the records fulfillment.   Note that with this advance notice I hope that you will find a way to most efficiently and inexpensively prepare electronic file copies of the ballots for fulfillment per C.R.S. 24-72-205.5.

That law does have a requirement for potential redaction of identifying marks. I am hoping you will make plans for accomplishing any research regarding identifying marks in the most efficient manner such as during election judge review of the incoming ballots and will discuss any associated costs with me as soon as possible. I am ready to discuss means to use tools in C.R.S. 24-72-205.5 to avoid privacy problems with styles that result in instances of less than 10 alike in the election.

Please respond with an estimate of the amount of any fees that  might be charged in the fulfillment of this future request.

If my request or any portion of it (including the prospective future request) will be denied or fulfilled only in part, please advise and cite the applicable law. If fulfillment will be delayed for any reason, please explain.

Thank you very much.

Harvie Branscomb

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Date: Wed, 14 Oct 2015 15:05:09 -0600

Harvie-

We have received your request.  I’m confident we will be able to email the requested documents by the deadline.  I do not anticipate a fee will be charged.

Christi Coburn

Chief Deputy/Election Administrator, Clerk & Recorder Department

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Date: 10/14/2015 6:37 PM

Hi Harvie-

Agree with Christi with one possible exception.  Per your future request # 3, depending on the number of duplicated ballots (which we are not anticipating many) we may have a small fee to run color copies of the original ballots.

Like Christi and I mentioned when you visited the other day, we have a concern with producing 9 or less ballots from a specific precinct or split, but believe we have a valid work around to fulfill your request.  We will cross that bridge when we get to it.

Per your future request # 1, we will plan to redact any identifiable markings (ie. initials, names or signatures) from the electronic scanned ballots before sending these to you electronically.

Stan

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Date: 10/15/2015 1:34 PM

Harvie-

We are working on your request. I wanted to let you know in advance that we will be putting a watermark on the .pdfs that says “Not an official ballot” – this is because we will be sending print-ready proofs.  I don’t think that should interfere with you doing what you need to on your end, but I wanted to give you a heads up.

Let me know if you have concerns.

Christi Coburn

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Date: 10/16/2015 12:05 PM

Harvie-

Here are the pdfs requested in your message below.  At this point, we consider this CORA request fulfilled but if you believe that is not accurate, let me know.  If you have questions, please feel free to contact me.

Thanks,

Christi Coburn

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Date: 10/16/2015 12:08 PM

Harvie-

Due to the attachment’s file size of 9MB, I want to make sure my email fulfilling your CORA request didn’t get snagged in any filters.  If you did not receive a separate email with an attached file, let me know and we can work out another way for you to receive the responsive documents.

Thanks,

Christi

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Date: 10/30/2015 5:20 PM

Stan and Christi
 Thanks so much for rapidly and completely responding to my CORA request before the deadline.  That is so much appreciated and your county has exceeded the performance of the 7 others similarly contacted. I was able to receive the ballot pdfs by email.

I am issuing my CORA request for the voted ballots and cast vote records so that any discussion of price or prepayment can be concluded before the access date provided for in CORA- namely certification unless an automatic recount is underway.

This email serves as a Colorado Open Records Request for electronic copies of

1) electronic scans produced by the voting equipment used in the pilot election of all the tabulated ballots returned in the 2015 Coordinated election  as soon as C.R.S. 24-72-205.5 allows.

2) the "cast vote records" or other record of vote patterns recorded per ballot by the voting system.

3) a newly created electronic color scan copy of each ballot that was duplicated prior to scanning for tabulation.

For requests 1) and 2) these files should be produced in the format and organization defined by the voting system. Only the fulfillment of request 3) will be the result of a scan not performed originally for tabulation.

For all three requests I request no reformatting be done other than minimal redaction by adding a black area to an otherwise original graphic file to cover the privacy impinging mark(s) if any. I also ask that each instance of redaction be logged in a note to accompany the records fulfillment.

That law does have a requirement for potential redaction of identifying marks. I know you are making plans for accomplishing any research regarding identifying marks in the most efficient manner. I am ready to discuss means to use tools in C.R.S. 24-72-205.5 to avoid privacy problems with styles that result in instances of less than 10 alike in the election.This can be accomplished by adjustment of the detailed scope of my request or by sufficient redaction of identifying detail such as precinct. I believe you are considering to redact the precinct code and instead provide the ballots identifiable only by style. This is acceptable if the redaction does not harm the ability to tabulate the ballots.

Please respond with an estimate of the amount of any fees that will be charged in the fulfillment of this future request. Please consider any means to make anonymization of the records efficient and cost effective. Denver county has experience with this as does Galois Inc. Dr. Joe Kiniry is the contact at Galois: kiniry at   galois.com

If my request or any portion of it will be denied or fulfilled only in part, please advise and cite the applicable law. If fulfillment will be delayed beyond the statutory release date for any reason, please explain.

Please feel free to respond to this CORA request on Nov. 4 if not before election day.  I hope ample and unusual advance notice of this request has been provided. It is my hope that this will lead to an expeditious and relatively painless effort to reply in spite of the difficult activities you are undertaking as part of the election that is unavoidably associated with this CORA request.

Thank you very much.

Harvie Branscomb

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Date: 10/30/2015 6:14 PM

Hi Harvie-

Christi and I received your CORA request.

Don't foresee any issues with completing your requests within your time frame.

Again, don't foresee any costs associated with completing requests 1 and 2.  May have a small cost with completing #3 depending on how many ballots we manually duplicate, but not anticipating many, if any.  I can't imagine this would take more than 1 hour, so regardless, don't foresee any expense passed on to you.    We'll cross that bridge when we get to it.

Do you have any plans to visit us next Monday or Tuesday?  If so, I would like to extend an invite to join us for a Clear Ballot tour/demo (see attached invite).  Open to the public and media.

Have a good weekend,

Stan

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Date: 10/30/2015 6:44 PM

Stan
 Yes I would like to visit on Monday or Tuesday. I do not have watcher credentials yet, so public access would be good.
 Thanks. Yes I can be there Monday. Thanks.
 Harvie

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Date: Tue, 10 Nov 2015 15:34:02

Stan

Could you please write back to me with your schedule for final signature verification and tabulation, as well as the timing for the statutory audit, mock RLA and canvass proceedings?

Thanks again for being so responsive to my CORA requests.  Because  several other counties have quoted excessivly slow and expensive processes for  locating   indications of  voter identity on the ballot scans, I have found it necessary to constrain several of my other CORA requests to a smaller number of scans in order to afford the transparency.

Because my efforts will result in  a comparison of voting systems, I would like to add in  to my request three extra  limited requests   to see how they could be fulfilled by Adams County.  I know that these are duplicative of my original request, but it is useful to know if the voting system  does  facilitate these types of fulfillment. So to be fair I would like you to deliver on these limited requests as well.

A) electronic files of  image scans by the voting system of the sides of each ballot  that contain the following contest:

City Of Brighton Council Member Ward 2

with a total of – at  – present 1311 votes plus some under and over votes, presumably a number that could also slightly rise this week.

B) I request a total of 100 (if there are that many) Clear Ballot  ballot scans that represent ballots on which voters have used "x" or "checkmark" indications or other exceptional marks in contradiction of the printed instructions. This will embody a test sample of poorly marked ballots that I can use (in combination with the cast vote records) for a demonstration of the capability of the voting system to maintain accuracy under difficult conditions.

C)  The set of Clear Ballot scans of the duplicate ballots  that correspond to the scans of originals requested in my CORA request part three.  Presumably these have by design zero identifying marks.

Other counties will now be responding to requests similar to above (and  of course the cast vote records of all tabulated ballots and the new copy scans of the originals that became duplicates.

If there is a cost associated with each of the above could you please quote them separately and in addition please quote the price for me to come in person to see the paper originals of the duplicated ballots (or other selected ballots). I have also asked other counties for this.

Thank you again for your commitment to transparency and accuracy as well as efficiency.

Harvie Branscomb

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Date: Tue, 10 Nov 2015 17:23:13
 Hey Harvie

At first glance, don’t foresee any issues with fulfilling your new requests. In fact, this will probably be less work than your original request.

Christi and I will discuss these new requests Thurs morning (we are closed tomorrow for Veterans Day).

Again, I’m not anticipating any significant costs to fulfill your new requests. We should be able to collect all this info within the hour or two CORA allows free of charge.

As for quoting you a price to come in person to see paper originals of the duplicated ballots… I don’t foresee any cost associated with this. In fact, we haven’t had any ballots we have had to ‘manually duplicate’ up to this point, everything has been electronically adjudicated thus far. Might be a few come Friday when we conduct a final count, but we’ll cross that bridge on Friday.

Christi and/or myself will keep in touch after Thursday.

Christi- are we set to complete final sig ver and tabulation this Friday? Assuming we are?

We are conducting our post election audit next Tues (not sure of the time). RLA next Thurs (again, not sure of the time). Canvass next Friday (Christi will need to give you timing of all of these).

Talk soon, happy Veterans Day,

Stan
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 Date: Tue, 10 Nov 2015 19:20:23
 Thanks Stan
 I sent the email to you last but got the first response back from you. I really appreciate your responsiveness.

Harvie
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 Date: Thu, 12 Nov 2015 08:36:12
 Stan and Harvie

A couple of clarifications.

We will be doing final tabulation on Friday afternoon; I expect to start around 2:30. All signature verification is complete at this point (excepting cure letters returned) unless we get more UOCAVA ballots in. If do see more, I only expect a handful.

Regarding dates for future activities, we are starting post-election audit and 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, 11.17. Canvass will be on Thursday 11.19 at 9:00 a.m. At this point the SOS is not certain we will conduct an RLA given we may have a recount. To date, we’ve not received instructions from them.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Christi Coburn

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Date: 11/13/2015 5:40 PM

http://coloradofoic.org/some-counties-charge-thousands-of-dollars-for-public-inspection-of-voted-ballot-records/

Adams County transparency in the news.
 Harvie

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