Garfield County 2015 CORA Conversation

For a full copy of the original CORA request click here: Garfield County 2015 CORA Request for ballots

Date: 10/14/2015 3:00 PM
 To Garfield County Clerk and Recorder
 (also entered on Garfield County website)
 (Hart)

Dear Clerk and Recorder or other records custodian if applicable:

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

***

Date: 10/19/2015 6:48 PM

Dear Mr. Branscomb –

Attached is Garfield County’s initial response to your October 14, 2015 CORA response.  We appreciate your cooperation.  Please feel free to contact if you have any questions before our November response date.

October 19, 2015

Harvie Branscomb      Via Email:

Re:      Open Records Request for electronic source document used to print un-voted paper ballots

Dear Mr. Branscomb:

We have reviewed your CORA request for “electronic copies of the original pdfs (or if not pdf, the applicable graphic source format) used to print un-voted paper ballots for your election”. I understand that you have indicated to Jean Alberico, Garfield County’s Clerk and Recorder, that you are willing to wait until after Election Day to receive those electronic source files. We appreciate your advanced understanding and cooperation in this regard. Because of it, we are willing to work with you to provide information that may be responsive to your request but only after the Clerk and Recorder accounts for all voted ballots.

Until that time, we do not understand the information you have requested to qualify as a public record. Even if it does, we have concerns about making such information available prematurely, not the least of which is our need to minimize any opportunity for ballot confusion or abuse and to ensure that the Clerk and Recorder is able to fulfill her statutory duties without disruption.

We anticipate that we will be able to respond to you no earlier than November 13, 2015. Depending on the size and volume and the time it takes to gather the information, we may be able to make the records available at no additional charge. If not, in accordance with Section 5 of the BOCC’s Open Records Policy and as authorized by C.R.S. § 24-72-205(6)(a), we will let you know of any requisite fees, payment of which will be required before the review will commence.

I understand that you anticipate submitting additional requests for public records after the election. We will address and respond to each such request when made.

Sincerely,

Tari Williams

Garfield County Attorney

cc:        Jean Alberico, Garfield County Clerk and Recorder

***

Date: 10/30/2015 4:46 PM

HB> Thank you for your timely response to my CORA request for unvoted ballot pdfs.

GC> We have reviewed your CORA request for “electronic copies of the original pdfs (or if not pdf, the applicable graphic source format) used to print un-voted paper ballots for your election”.  I understand that you have indicated to Jean Alberico, Garfield County’s Clerk and Recorder, that you are willing to wait until after Election Day to receive those electronic source files.  We appreciate your advanced understanding and cooperation in this regard.  Because of it, we are willing to work with you to provide information that may be responsive to your request but only after the Clerk and Recorder accounts for all voted ballots.Until that time, we do not understand the information you have requested to qualify as a public record.  Even if it does, we have concerns about making such information available prematurely, not the least of which is our need to minimize any opportunity for ballot confusion or abuse and to ensure that the Clerk and Recorder is able to fulfill her statutory duties without disruption.

We anticipate that we will be able to respond to you no earlier than November 13, 2015.  Depending on the size and volume and the time it takes to gather the information, we may be able to make the records available at no additional charge.  If not, in accordance with Section 5 of the BOCC’s Open Records Policy and as authorized by C.R.S. § 24-72-205(6)(a), we will let you know of any requisite fees, payment of which will be required before the review will commence.

HB>  A fulfillment on Nov. 13 by email containing electronic records will satisfy my request. If there are to be fees and considering they must be paid in advance I request that I be informed of this fact by Nov. 6 so that a timely fulfillment on Nov. 13 can be made. Since the records exist in entirety today, there should be no unknowns concerning the fulfillment of my request.

GC> I understand that you anticipate submitting additional requests for public records after the election.  We will address and respond to each such request when made.

HB> The unvoted pdfs are to be used to prepare for an independent evaluation of the voting system that is made possible by CRS 25-72-205.5 in combination with the excellent new capabilities of the piloted voting system.

Time is of the essence for both requests because this project is tied into the UVS time line for SOS system selection. Evaluation of the voting system must be complete before December 15 to be effective and much work is involved after the electronic records are provided by you. Any delay for negotiation or delivery of charges in advance will harm the effectiveness of the evaluation and I ask you now to help me avoid such delays.

I presume that the location of identifying marks om voted ballots can begin at any time after my CORA request is made, for example as of today if resources were available.

For a best practice, the County would locate and anonymize records such as by duplication immediately upon arrival from the voter so that there is minimal risk of exposure of identifiable voter intent to election officials (election judges, canvas board, etc.). There is a vendor who is willing to provide software and  service and advice to assist you in doing this location process with efficient tools at a reasonable cost - Galois. Dr. Joseph Kiniry kiniry at Galois.com is the contact. Please explore this option instead of considering 170 hours of work. Denver accomplished the same task on 130,000 ballots for a charge of $265 with my assistance under a NDA for their May pilot municipal election.

It is now time to activate the second CORA request - the one for voted ballots:
  Note that I attempted to file this CORA request online but the scheme for checking human input was failing to accept my input and I was unable to use that mechanism.

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 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.This can be accomplished by adjustment of the detailed scope of my request or by sufficient redaction of identifying detail such as precinct.

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.

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 via the office of SOS as well as from myself in conjunction with my request for unvoted ballot pdfs. 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
***
Date: 11/2/2015 6:18 PM

Dear Mr. Branscomb,

I have cut and pasted the Garfield County Open Records Request Form below.   You previously submitted a records request on October 14, 2015 for certain election records.  A response was provided via email, and in the course of your conversation with the Garfield County Clerk and Recorder and the Garfield County Attorney regarding the October 14, 2015 records request, you requested additional information.  It is my understanding from your email and our conversation this evening that you could not submit the Garfield County Open Records request form electronically through the Garfield County website, and attempts to fax the document to the fax number provided on the County's website failed.   Pursuant to the Garfield County Open Records Policy, requests for records are to be made on the proscribed form.   The form is below.   Please completely fill out the form and return it to me at kjohnson  at garfield-county.com.

Thanks,
Kate


Kate Johnson
Assistant Garfield County Attorney

***

Date:  11/2/2015 6:25 PM
Open Records Request Form
 
 Date: 11/2/2015 
 Requestor's Name : Harvie Branscomb
 Organization Represented (if any): None
 Address: 
 Telephone (with area code) 
 Fax (with area code): 
 Email: 
 
 
 Name of document(s) requested, including the department where the document(s) originated:
 
 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 parts 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 parts 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. 
 
 (additional notes follow)  
 
 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.This can be accomplished by adjustment of the detailed scope of my request or by sufficient redaction of identifying detail such as precinct.
 
 Please respond with an estimate of the amount of any fees that will be charged in the fulfillment of this 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.
 
 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.
 
 Name of Requestor: Harvie Branscomb
 
 8246  8246
 Type the number you see above.
 
 Send Email
 
 Other perhaps helpful info:
  The unvoted pdfs are to be used to prepare for an independent evaluation of the voting system that is made possible by CRS 25-72-205.5 in combination with the excellent new capabilities of the piloted voting system. 
 
 Time is of the essence for both requests because this project is tied into the UVS time line for SOS system selection. Evaluation of the voting system must be complete before December 15 to be effective and much work is involved after the electronic records are provided by you. Any delay for negotiation or delivery of charges in advance will harm the effectiveness of the evaluation and I ask you now to help me avoid such delays.
 
  I presume that the location of identifying marks on voted ballots can begin at any time after my CORA request is made, for example as of today if resources were available.
 
 For a best practice, the County would locate and anonymize records such as by duplication immediately upon arrival from the voter so that there is minimal risk of exposure of identifiable voter intent to election officials (election judges, canvas board, etc.). There is a vendor who is willing to provide software and  service and advice to assist you in doing this location process with efficient tools at a reasonable cost - Galois. Dr. Joseph Kiniry kiniry  at Galois.com is the contact. Please explore this option instead of considering 170 hours of work. Denver accomplished the same task on 130,000 ballots for a charge of $265 with my assistance under a NDA for their May pilot municipal election.
 
***
Date: 11/2/2015 6:26 PM

Thank you Harvey, we will respond within the three days allowed by CORA

Kate Johnson

Assistant Garfield County Attorney

***

Date: 11/4/2015 10:20 AM

Kate Johnson

Douglas County (DC) had questions about my request and since they have the same voting system as Garfield I thought it would help to send you the same clarifications that they asked for:

HB> Here is one important update to my clarification based on additional understanding of Hart's system obtained yesterday. The pdfs of the cast ballots that I am requesting in part one should not include a graphical overlay of the system interpretation of the ballot content that Hart's system can optionally provide. I want the unedited original scan that reflects only the ballot contents visible on the paper ballot at the time it was returned to the county ( other than CORA required redaction of identifying marks) or the result of a duplication process.

one more previous clarification:

DC> The County received your CORA request on Friday, October 30. As a matter of clarification, can you provide further definition of the items you are requesting. Even amongst our team, we come to differing conclusions as to the nature of your requests.

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.

DC> Please clarify exactly what you are looking for. Is this intended to be a request for PDFs of the scanned ballots?

HB> Yes, if components of Hart Verity produce pdfs of scanned ballots then electronic copies of those pdfs are requested. It is my understanding that every ballot tabulated in the election will have a corresponding pdf regardless whether it was tabulated by the central count scanners or the "precinct scanners" in VSPCs. If there are other votes counted in the election that do not fall under that description then I do not understand and will need and ask for further explanation from you.

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

DC> Please clarify the definition of “cast vote records” or “other record of vote patterns.”

HB> I think this is a syntax problem. As a result of the novelty of this problem I have difficulty describing a new category of election record that is crucial to the upcoming statutory Risk Limiting Audit. What I refer to as the "cast vote record" is confusingly referred to as "ballot image" in places in Colorado's law and election  rules. It is the digitally represented machine readable and - when displayed or printed - human readable record of the machine interpretation of the voter intent contained on a tabulated ballot and that may have already been "resolved" or updated by election judges. An appropriate aggregation of all the cast vote records will sum to published election results by contest choice and under and over votes.

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

DC> Please clarify if you are asking for the original ballots as opposed to the duplicates.

HB> Correct. I am asking for an electronic copy of a new scan (not necessarily not likely using the voting system scanner but preferably with similar resolution) of each original ballot  in the case it was duplicated in a county process prior to and for purposes of tabulation. A different record is the duplicate produced by a regular election procedure (as opposed to the original of which I am requesting a copy) that will have been fulfilled by the part one of my request.

***

Date: 11/5/2015 5:28 PM

Dear Mr. Branscomb –

Attached is Garfield County’s initial response to your November 2, 2015 CORA request.  We appreciate your cooperation.  Please feel free to contact if you have any questions before our response date.



November 5, 2015

Harvie Branscomb        Via Email

Re:      Open Records Request received on November 2, 2015 for electronic scans of ballots, “cast vote records”, and electronic scans of each ballot that was duplicated prior to scanning.

Dear Mr. Branscomb:

We have reviewed your Open Records Request for the above referenced ballots. We appreciate the additional information you have provided to further clarify your request and want to work with you to ensure that we provide all documents responsive to your request within the timeframes imposed by the Colorado Open Records Act (“CORA”).

To protect the integrity of the election process and voter privacy the general assembly enacted a stay period during which the clerk and recorder is precluded from fulfilling open records requests for ballots. The subject stay period commences the forty-fifth day prior to the election and concludes on the date the clerk and recorder is required to certify an official abstract of votes cast for the applicable election, pursuant to C.R.S. § 24-72-205.5. The ballots you have requested are ballots returned in the 2015 coordinated election. Pursuant to C.R.S. § 1-10-102, an official abstract of votes shall be certified no later than the seventeenth day after the election, which is November 20, 2015. In accordance with the above stated law, the earliest the Garfield County Clerk and Recorder could fulfill your open records request is November 20, 2015.

Due to the scope of your request and the volume of responsive documents, the Clerk and Recorder cannot reasonably prepare or gather the records within the three-day period imposed by CORA without substantially interfering with her other public service responsibility, and therefore will need seven business days to fulfill your request. While we will work diligently to fulfill your request before the deadline of December 3, 2015, please be aware that November 26th and 27th are County holidays and the Clerk and Recorder’s Office is closed.

In your initial request, you ask for advance notice of the costs and fees charged to fulfill your request. Pursuant to the Garfield County Open Records Policy the first hour of research and retrieval time is free of charge, and a fee of $30.00 applies to each additional hour spent gathering and preparing the records. Any actual costs incurred by the Clerk and Recorder in making the requested ballots available may also be charged to you. See C.R.S. § 24-72-205.5(4)(VI).

The Clerk and Recorder estimates that the actual cost to fulfill your request is $990.00 based upon the following calculations:
  1. Electronic scans of each tabulated ballot: There were approximately 11,200 ballots returned. Each ballot will need to be examined and any marks redacted pursuant to C.R.S. § 24-72-205.5(4)(b)(II). Each ballots consist of two pages for a total of 22,400 responsive pages. Staff will spend approximately 5 seconds reviewing each page for identifying marks. 5 second per page * 22,400=112,000 seconds/60 = 1867 minutes/60=31.1 hours. An additional hour is needed to complete a redaction log for a total of 32 hours at $30.00 = $960.00;
  1. “Cast Vote Records”: The Clerk and Recorder estimates that it will take less than 1 hour to fulfill this request;
  1. Duplicate Ballots: There are approximately 130 duplicate ballots. The Clerk and Recorder will have to identify those ballots which were duplicated and create either a paper copy or an electronic copy. We estimate this will take 2 hours at the cost of $30.00 an hour for a total of $60.00.
Garfield County will not begin work to fulfill your request until we receive a deposit in the amount of $990.00. This is only an estimate and staff may need to spend additional time beyond our initial estimate to fulfill your request at the cost of $30.00 per an hour. This estimate is for time spent retrieving and preparing documents for inspection and does not include costs to produce paper copies or copies via CD or other media. It is also unknown at this time if the Clerk and Recorder will incur unforeseen actual costs, such as software costs, to fulfill your request.

If you would like us to begin fulfilling your request on November 20, 2015, please send a check in the amount of $990.00, made payable to “Garfield County Treasurer”, to the Garfield County Attorney’s Office, Attn Kate Johnson, 108 8th Street, Suite 219, Glenwood Springs, CO 81601 within 10 days of the date of this letter. If your deposit is not receive within 10 days of the date of this letter, this request will be deemed closed.

Please feel free to contact me if you have questions.

Sincerely,

Katharine A. Johnson

Garfield County Attorney

cc:        Jean Alberico, Garfield County Clerk and Recorder

***

Date: 11/6/2015 1:01 PM

HB> Kate Johnson
  I am in receipt of the Garfield response to my second records request,thank you.

 Here is the text of your letter including a partial response and some I hope illuminating commentary on my part:

GC> We have reviewed your Open Records Request for the above referenced ballots.  We appreciate the additional information you have provided to further clarify your request and want to work with you to ensure that we provide all documents responsive to your request within the timeframes imposed by the Colorado Open Records Act (“CORA”).

 HB> Thank you.

GC> To protect the integrity of the election process and voter privacy the general assembly enacted a stay period during which the clerk and recorder is precluded from fulfilling open records requests for ballots.  The subject stay period commences the forty-fifth day prior to the election and concludes on the date the clerk and recorder is required to certify an official abstract of votes cast for the applicable election, pursuant to C.R.S. § 24-72-205.5.  The ballots you have requested are ballots returned in the 2015 coordinated election.  Pursuant to C.R.S. § 1-10-102, an official abstract of votes shall be certified no later than the seventeenth day after the election, which is November 20, 2015.  In accordance with the above stated law, the earliest the Garfield County Clerk and Recorder could fulfill your open records request is November 20, 2015.

HB> Agreed.

GC> Due to the scope of your request and the volume of responsive documents, the Clerk and Recorder cannot reasonably prepare or gather the records within the three-day period imposed by CORA without substantially interfering with her other public service responsibility, and therefore will need seven business days to fulfill your request.  While we will work diligently to fulfill your request before the deadline of December 3, 2015, please be aware that November 26th and 27th are County holidays and the Clerk and Recorder’s Office is closed.

 HB> While I agree with your previous paragraphs, this one is not at all consistent with my reading of the law. The stay only delays the act of fulfillment until a certain date. It does neither affect the initiation nor interim activities or county responses to the request. The stay does not preclude any preparation for fulfillment as if the three day period for beginning and ending all activities regarding a required response begins on the day the stay ends. If this is not your understanding then some advice from a court or legislators is needed to clarify this ambiguity.

GC> In your initial request, you ask for advance notice of the costs and fees charged to fulfill your request.  Pursuant to the Garfield County Open Records Policy the first hour of research and retrieval time is free of charge, and a fee of $30.00 applies to each additional hour spent gathering and preparing the records.  Any actual costs incurred by the Clerk and Recorder in making the requested ballots available may also be charged to you.  See C.R.S. § 24-72-205.5(4)(VI).

HB> I am not at this point asking for advance  notice - I am asking for a quotation to be provided as a response to an active CORA request. The stay does not appear to preclude the making of a formal quotation.

GC> The Clerk and Recorder estimates that the actual cost to fulfill your request is $990.00 based upon the following calculations:

Electronic scans of each tabulated ballot:  There were approximately 11,200 ballots returned.  Each ballot will need to be examined and any marks redacted pursuant to C.R.S. § 24-72-205.5(4)(b)(II).  Each ballots consist of two pages for a total of 22,400 responsive pages.  Staff will spend approximately 5 seconds reviewing each page for identifying marks. 5 second per page * 22,400=112,000 seconds/60 = 1867 minutes/60=31.1 hours.  An additional hour is needed to complete a redaction log for a total of 32 hours at $30.00 = $960.00;

 HB> I see no way of describing this plan for locatIon of identifiable marks as anything other than excruciatingly slow - slower than the time taken  for average signature verification - a much more taxing task.

 I myself have performed this location function for identifying marks for Denver County ballots  at a rate of at least 3,000 to 5000 ballots per hour and it could be even faster without interruption. If software auch as ImageJ or OpenCount is used to enhance the productivity much higher speeds are possible. Some counties in response to this request are not charging me at all for this location/redaction process.

 I fear that the ordinary and necessary  and valuable urge to achieve efficiency in elections does not appear to always apply to processes that will be paid for by the public instead of the county. This could be interpreted as an artificial obstacle to public access. I hope this is not a factor in the the development of the  County's estimate. Perhaps some additional attention could be paid to making the process more efficient?

GC> “Cast Vote Records”:  The Clerk and Recorder estimates that it will take less than 1 hour to fulfill this request;

 HB> I recognize this as a reasonable estimate. Thankyou.

GC> Duplicate Ballots:  There are approximately 130 duplicate ballots.  The Clerk and Recorder will have to identify those ballots which were duplicated and create either a paper copy or an electronic copy.  We estimate this will take 2 hours at the cost of $30.00 an hour for a total of $60.00.

 HB> These are existing paper records that can be copied onto paper for max 25 cents per each but if scanned or faxed as I have requested to create electronic records should cost no more than the cost of the time for scanning/faxing plus the time for any necessary redaction. I would guess this would consume less than one hour.

GC>Garfield County will not begin work to fulfill your request until we receive a deposit in the amount of $990.00.  This is only an estimate and staff may need to spend additional time beyond our initial estimate to fulfill your request at the cost of $30.00 per an hour.  This estimate is for time spent retrieving and preparing documents for inspection and does not include costs to produce paper copies or copies via CD or other media.  It is also unknown at this time if the Clerk and Recorder will incur unforeseen actual costs, such as software costs, to fulfill your request.

GC> If you would like us to begin fulfilling your request on November 20, 2015, please send a check in the amount of $990.00, made payable to “Garfield County Treasurer”, to the Garfield County Attorney’s Office, Attn Kate Johnson, 108 8th Street, Suite 219, Glenwood Springs, CO 81601 within 10 days of the date of this letter.  If your deposit is not receive within 10 days of the date of this letter, this request will be deemed closed.

 HB> I am in a position now to authorize you to proceed with parts two and three of my request totalling in your estimate up to three hours and will prepare a check for two hours at $30 per hour or $60 as an advance payment (presuming the first hour is free per statute). The remaining portion -part one at $960 will require further consideration on my part as well as discussion with you in the future.

 HB> It is my understanding that under CRS you may proceed with the process in a manner that would produce the records as soon as the stay is lifted and that is what I am asking you to do. I am asking you to begin before Nov. 20 if you find that to be legal. If not please advise so I can make appropriate complaints to those who crafted the law.

HB> Here is the relevant portion of CRS 24-72-205.5:
  Except as otherwise provided in paragraph (b) of this subsection (3), the designated election official shall not fulfill a request under this part 2 for the public inspection of ballots during the period commencing with the forty-fifth day preceding election day and concluding with the date either by which the designated election official is required to certify an official abstract of votes cast for the applicable candidate contest or ballot issue or ballot question pursuant to section 1-10-102 or 31-10-1205 (1), C.R.S., as applicable, or by which any recount conducted in accordance with article 10.5 of title 1, C.R.S., or section 31-10-1207, C.R.S., is completed, as applicable, whichever date is later.

Harvie Branscomb

***

Date: Tue, 10 Nov 2015 15:13:52

Kate I previously responded to you concerning the need to discuss the first part of my three part  CORA request of Nov. 2   for voted ballots in the 2015 November election.
Regarding part one:
The county estimate of 5 seconds per side to look for identifying marks while similar to some other counties suggests an extremely inefficient system has been planned for the task. I believe that it is possible to examine the digital scans of the ballots at a rate more than 10 times faster. To perform that function at your predicted rate I guess operators will be twiddling their thumbs as they wait for the 5 seconds to elapse.   Since the estimate results in a required payment in advance of $990 and since that amount is far from an amount I can afford I will be forced to constrain the scope of this part of the request as follows:
In part one of my request, in place of every ballot tabulated in the election, I now request  scans from only three subsets of the ballots tabulated. This will substantially reduce the overhead you will encounter for fulfillment:
1)  In place of all tabulated ballots, electronic files of  photographic recordings by the voting system of the sides of each ballot  that contains the following contest:
Town Of Parachute Ballot Issue 2A

with a total of – at  – present 164 votes plus some under and over votes, presumably a number that could also slightly rise this week.

2) I request a total of 50 (if there are that many) Hart  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.

3)  The set of Hart 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

Please revise your cost estimate based on my attempt to constrain costs and difficulty of this task in order to render it financially accessible to myself as an unpaid election quality advocate and member of the public. I presume that the voting system is capable of isolating the ballot scans containing this selected contest without examination of each ballot scan and hence the cost for this constrained request will be considerably lower and on the order of, at your quoted estimated price, about 220  times  10 seconds or about 2200  seconds that amounts to less than an hour at your predicted slow rate. I am here guessing that 10 seconds is sufficient time to scan through a set of images to arrive at each poorly marked one and if not, then perhaps some of the extra time not needed for location of identifying marks may be sufficient.

As a heads-up, in  compensation for the lack of economical accessibility to the scans of all tabulated ballots I may require access to a very select and specific set of physical paper ballots in your office under terms yet to be discussed. My intention is to form a simulation of a risk limiting audit.  Will you please  establish a price for that service (in person examination of paper ballots?)

As for the remaining two portions of my request, I still request of part two – cast vote records ( as supplied by the Hart system and applicable to a Risk Limiting Audit) for all tabulated ballots as requested before. I also still ask for part three – as before- new electronic copies of all ballots that required duplication  prior to tabulation and inclusion in the election.

I look forward to your reply and please make the new quotation in a form (separated in parts) so that I can  choose which of the parts I can afford to pursue. Also I hope that this simplification will aid in fulfillment close to or on the date of the end of the C.R.S. stay.  To be effective this evaluation must be completed (along with evaluation of 7 other counties’ public records) in December.  CRS 24-72-205.5 provides for a stay of fulfillment, not a stay of request. It does not require a stay of a constructive beginning of a fulfillment process so I hope you will find a way to begin as soon as we are both satisfied with the required payment.
CRS 24-72-205.5 (3) (a) says in relevant  part: “the designated election official shall not fulfill a request under this part 2 for the public inspection of ballots during the period …”
Here for clarity is an encore of my  questions and current request:

1)   scans from the Hart  system of the ballots containing

Town Of Parachute Ballot Issue 2A  (approx. 170)
2) 50 scans of ballots that are deemed incorrectly marked such as x-es and checks
3) the set of Hart scans of duplicated ballots (no voter identifying marks)
4) the entire set of cast vote records for all tabulated ballots as applicable to the risk limiting audit
5) access for personal inspection of duplicated ballots (the originals)
6) color copies of duplicated ballots (the originals) in electronic format
I hope I will soon see your cost for each of the above. I am willing to repay the cost of  the media needed to supply the data to me.
Please recall that the Colorado Constitution requires in Article VII Section 8- that “all elections by the people shall be by ballot, and in case paper ballots are required to be used, no ballots shall be marked in any way whereby the ballot can be identified as the ballot of the person casting it.”  I am distressed to learn that it is my responsibility to personally pay to achieve a requirement of the constitution to the effect that any violations of it will also be hidden from me.

Thank you very much.

Harvie Branscomb

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Date: 11/13/2015 8:49 AM

Dear Mr. Branscomb,

Records responsive to your first Open Records request for the source files for ballots are available for pick up at the Garfield County Attorney's Office.   The source files were saved directly to a CD per your request for the file and not a pdf image.  As stated in the Garfield County Open Records Policy, the cost of the CD is $5.00.  Less than 1 hour was needed to gather the records and so there are no fees for research and retrieval time. The CD is available to be picked up upon payment of $5.00.  The Garfield County Attorney's Office is located at 108 8th Street, Suite 219, Glenwood Springs and is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.  If you wish to have the disk mailed to you, please contact me directly to make arrangements.

Regards,
Kate

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Date: 11/13/2015 3:26 PM

Dear Harvey,

Please find attached Garfield County’s response to your revised records request submitted by email on November 10, 2015.

Re: November 10, 2015 Revised Open Records request for copies of tabulated ballots.

November 13, 2015

Harvie Branscomb                                                                         Via Email:




Re: November 10, 2015 Revised Open Records request for copies of tabulated ballots.

Dear Mr. Branscomb:

We received your November 10, 2015 email in which you narrow the scope of your initial request for copies of all tabulated ballots to three subsets of tabulated ballots. This correspondence is to provide a revised estimate of costs based upon your modifications to the initial request and respond to the concerns stated in your email of November 6, 2015.

As stated in our initial response letter, pursuant to the Garfield County Open Records Policy the first hour of research and retrieval time is free of charge, and a fee of $30.00 applies to each additional hour spent gathering and preparing the records. The Clerk and Recorder's revised estimate to fulfill your request is $300.00 based upon the following calculations:

1. Electronic scans of tabulated ballot:

a. Town of Parachute Ballot Issue: The voting system has the ability to identify and isolate responsive ballots. The ballots will be reviewed and redactions made for identifying marks. The Clerk and Recorder estimates it will take 1/2 hour to fulfill this request.

b. 50 ballots which the voter used an "x" or "checkmark" or other marks in contradiction of the instructions: The voting system is incapable of isolating ballots responsive to your request electronically, therefore, to fulfill this request the Clerk and Recorder will have to review each ballot until 50 ballots responsive to your request are identified. Once responsive ballots are identified,  the Clerk and Recorder will redact any identifying marks. It is possible 50 ballots are identified within the first 5 hours, drastically reducing research and retrieval time. It is also possible that the Clerk and Recorder will spend more than 10 hours reviewing all 11,200 ballots and not find 50 ballots responsive to your request. Due to the indefinite nature of this request, the Clerk and Recorder can only provide a broad estimate of 8 hours needed to identify and prepare the records at a cost of $30.00 an hour for a total of $240.00.

    c.  The set of HART scans of duplicate ballots: The Clerk and Recorder estimates  it will take approximately 1/2 hour to fulfill this request.

2. "Cast Vote Records": The Clerk and Recorder estimates that it will take 1/2 hour to fulfill this request;

3. Duplicate Ballots: There are approximately 130 duplicate ballots. The Clerk and Recorder will have to identify duplicated ballots, make redactions for identifying marks, and physically scan the ballots to produce an electronic color copy. The Clerk and Recorder estimates this process will take 2 hours for a total of $60.00.

In total, the Clerk and Recorder estimates at least 11 hours of research and retrieval time will be spent fulfilling your request. Garfield County will not begin work to fulfill your request until we receive a deposit of $300.00 ($30.00 x 10 hours). This is only an estimate. If staff spends under 10 hours fulfilling your request, the County will refund any overpayment. Likewise, if staff spends over 10 hours fulfilling your request, a fee of $30.00 per an hour will be charged for each additional hour of staff time expended. This estimate is for time spent retrieving and preparing documents for inspection and does not include costs to produce paper copies or copies via CD or other media.

As part of your modified request, you ask for access to inspect ballots under "terms yet to be discussed". It is unclear from the request what specific ballots you seek to inspect and therefore the County cannot estimate the amount of time, if any, needed to gather and prepare the records. Once you identify which ballots you wish to inspect, please submit an Open Records Request online at http://www.garfield-county.com/attorney'open-records-policy, and we will gladly make such records available for inspection unless otherwise prohibited by law.

Pursuant to the provisions of C.R.S. § 24-72-205.5, the Clerk and Recorder cannot access the ballot images for production under CORA until the election is certified, which by law must occur on or before November 20, 2015. The County will process your request as soon as is possible, and likely, the records will be available before December 3, 2015. We will contact you as soon as the records are available.

We will not begin work on your request until we receive a deposit for of $300.00 by check made payable to "Garfield County Treasurer". You can personally deliver the deposit or mail it to the Garfield County Attorney's Office, Attn Kate Johnson, 108 8th Street, Suite 219, Glenwood Springs, CO 81601. If we do not receive a response within 10 days, this request will be closed.

Please feel free to contact me if you have questions before our response deadline.

Sincerely,

Kate Johnson

Assistant Garfield County Attorney

***

Date: Sun, 22 Nov 2015 22:52:52

Kate Johnson

Here is my answer to specify the portions of my updated request of Nov. 10 that I would like you to fulfill:

1a. Town of Parachute Ballot Issue: The voting system has the ability to identify and isolate responsive ballots. The ballots will be reviewed and redactions made for identifying marks. The Clerk and Recorder estimates it will take 1/2 hour to fulfill this request.

HB> Please fulfill this portion 1a  of my request.

1b. 50 ballots which the voter used an "x" or "checkmark" or other marks in contradiction of the instructions:

HB> Please apply only two hours or max $60 dollars to this  portion 1b of the request.

1c.  The set of HART scans of duplicate ballots: The Clerk and Recorder estimates  it will take approximately 1/2 hour to fulfill this request.

HB> Please fulfill this portion 1c  of my request.

2. "Cast Vote Records": The Clerk and Recorder estimates that it will take 1/2 hour to fulfill this request;

HB> Please fulfill this portion 2  of my request.

3. Duplicate Ballots: There are approximately 130 duplicate ballots. The Clerk and Recorder will have to identify duplicated ballots, make redactions for identifying marks, and physically scan the ballots to produce an electronic color copy. The Clerk and Recorder estimates this process will take 2 hours for a total of $60.00.

HB> Please fulfill this portion 3  of my request.

HB> My understanding is that for what I have requested  I can deduct $180 for 6 of the 8 hours estimated to find the 50 incorrectly marked ballots. Thus the advance payment would amount  to $120. I will be attending the mock RLA on Monday and will provide advance payment at that time. I assume that records will be kept of person hours and tasks so that I can understand what future CORA requests for ballots might cost.
 

Thank you very much. 

Harvie Branscomb

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