Teller County 2015 CORA Conversation

Click here for the full CORA request as sent: Teller County CORA Request for ballots

Date: 10/14/2015 2:50 PM

To: Teller County Clerk and  Recorder
(ES&S)

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 3:39 PM

October 19, 2015

Harvie Branscomb  Via Email

Dear Mr. Branscomb:

I am in receipt of your October 14, 2015 email CORA request. As I read it, the first three paragraphs of your request are requesting copies of the source files used to create the ballots. I am respectfully delaying your request. State Statue 1-8.3-113 and 1-7.5-107. 3 references the 8 days permitted to receive UOCAVA ballots and signature discrepancy affidavits. We are able to fulfill your request on November 13, 2015.We are protecting the general integrity of the Election.

I do note your email includes, in the last five paragraphs of that email, notification that you intend to make a further CORA request of additional documentation. I thank you for that advance notice, and intend to separately respond with my findings on that prospective request,

Sincerely,

Krystal Brown

Teller County Clerk & Recorder

***

Date: 10/30/2015 4:54 PM

Thank you for timely responding to my CORA request for unvoted pdfs of ballots. Here I insert my comments inline with yours. Yours are marked TC for Teller County and mine are marked HB for my initials.

TC> I am in receipt of your October 14, 2015 email CORA request.  As I read it, the first three paragraphs of your request are requesting copies of the source files used to create the ballots.  I am respectfully delaying your request. State Statue 1-8.3-113 and 1-7.5-107. 3 references the 8 days permitted to receive UOCAVA ballots and signature discrepancy affidavits. We are able to fulfill your request on November 13, 2015.We are protecting the general integrity of the Election.

HB> Fulfillment of electronic records via email on Nov. 13 will satisfy my request. Thank you.

TC> I do note your email includes, in the last five paragraphs of that email, notification that you intend to make a further CORA request of additional documentation.  I thank you for that advance notice, and intend to separately respond with my findings on that prospective request,

HB> I have not received any findings on that prospective request, so here it is formally and respectfully delivered:

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 making this process economical in respect to my CORA request of their May election.   Galois Inc. also is prepared to provide service, software or advice for this purpose. Dr. Joe Kiniry is the contact there:  kiniry  at galois.com He will be glad to offer help.

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

***

November 4, 2015

Harvie Branscomb    Via Email

Dear Mr. Branscomb:

I am in receipt of your October 30, 2015 email CORA request. We will be able to fulfill your request 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.

Teller County is a small County and we have a limited amount of staff, we have been extremely busy with the November 3, 2015 Coordinated Election. I have put in a request for the vendors assistance on this matter. Due to the new system, we are seeking advice from the vendor to make sure we can fulfill all of your needs in timely manner. I will be in contact with you no later than the close of business Monday November 9, 2015.

Sincerely,

Krystal Brown

Teller County Clerk & Recorder

***

November 9, 2015

Dear Mr. Branscomb,

This email responds to your Colorado Open Records Request received by email on Friday, October 30, 2015 at 4:54 PM. As Teller County Clerk & Recorder, I am the custodian of the documents requested.

Previously you have requested “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.” You have stated that this request 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” in an earlier request.

Our office is prepared to fulfill this request on November 13, 2015 as previously agreed at no charge.

Within the request submitted on October 30, 2015 you expanded your request to include the following items.

  • 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;
  • the “cast vote records” or other record of vote patterns recorded per ballot by the voting system also as soon as statute allows;
  • a newly created electronic color scan copy of each ballot that was duplicated prior to scanning for tabulation.

For your first request , pursuant to C.R.S,. 24-72-205.5 we are unable to begin working on your request until November 23, 2015 when the ballots are no longer in use for our auditing and certification purposes. The deadline for which to post audit and canvass the election is Friday, November 20, 2015 under Secretary of State rule 11.3.3(m) and C.R.S. 1-10-102(1).

Within your request you acknowledged that we are required to protect the anonymity of the voter. For this reason and under the guidance provided to us in C.R.S. 24-72-205.5, we will need to redact any identifying marks from the ballot images before we provide them to you.

In response to your second request, the vote cast records per ballot will be provided with the ballot images in a separate excel file.

In response to your third request, we will be able to provide color scans of the ballots that were duplicated.

As of today Teller County has tabulated 6540 ballots and will have approximately 30 to cure. We estimate that it will take 5 seconds to review each image and 45 to redact and log.

We also estimate that there will be time expended exporting, organizing and preparing the images for delivery to you. These considerations lead us to believe that this process will take up to 25 hours of staff time and could require the purchase of media to transfer the files. You will be responsible for the cost if necessary which is payable to us prior to delivery of media.

Our cost estimate and required deposit is $550 (does not include media devices or shipping). Once you have paid this amount we will begin the work. We will record the time it actually takes us to fulfill your request and if it takes less time or material than is anticipated we will issue you a refund. If it takes more time than we anticipate, we will issue you an invoice that will be due within 30 days.

Remit payment to:

Teller County Clerk & Recorder PO BOX 1010

Cripple Creek, Co. 80813

***

Date: Tue, 10 Nov 2015 14:54:56

Krystal Brown
Thank you for your responses regarding my three part  CORA request for voted ballots in the 2015 November election.
Regarding part one:
The county estimate of 5 seconds per image to look for identifying marks while similar to some other counties suggests a very inefficient system has been planned for the task.  I agree that 45 seconds to redact and log is reasonable. 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 $550 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  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:
City Of Cripple Creek Council Ward 5

with a total of – at  – present 84 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) ES&S  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 ES&S scans of the duplicate ballots  that correspond to the scans of originals requested in 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 140  times 5 or 10 seconds or ujp to 1400  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 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 ES&S 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 ES&S system of the ballots containing

City Of Cripple Creek Council Ward 5   (approx. 90)
2) 50 scans of ballots that are deemed incorrectly marked such as x-es and checks
3) the set of ES&S 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

***

Date: 11/12/2015 12:38 PM

Krystal
I am about to try to call you about your schedule if I don’t see an email from you.  I want to know when you will have election judges in to do final processing of your cure and UOCAVA ballots. Particularly if you are doing any of that processing today.

I need to plan my drive to the eastern slope.  I’ll have a watcher credential from No on BB.
Harvie Branscomb

***

Date: 11/13/2015 3:09 PM

Hello Harvie,

We will have election judges in on Monday Morning 11/16 to cure and finalize the processing. We will be doing our Canvassing on the 11/18 at 1:00. Please feel free to call of email me with any question.

Thank you,

Krystal Brown

***

Date:  11/16/2015 7:47 AM

Thank you Krystal. I am now on the way to watch and expect to get there by 9AM. I’ll have credentials signed by the registered agent of NO on BB. Please be ready to accept my watcher credentials.

Thanks again. If it is not obvious where central count is located please let me know.

Harvie

Date:  11/16/2015 8:42 AM

Hello Harvie,

My judges are scheduled at 10:00 am. however one called in sick so I just have one judge that is going to make it.

If you just come to my main office and then we can show you where we will be at for the processing of the ballots.

Krystal Brown

***

Date: 11/16/2015 9:55 AM

Mr. Branscomb,

Attached are the final exports of the ballot files that were used to produce the ballots for the Teller County 2015 Coordinated Election.  I apologize for the delay in getting these out to you.  I was home on Friday with a sick child.

There are six (6) files.  These are the individual ballot styles and are named accordingly.  These are the files that were sent to our print vendor and used to produce the ballots not a new export for this request.  These files do not include the stub since that was added by the vendor.  The files are on an oversized sheet with cut marks.

Thank you.

Janice Hellman

Deputy Clerk | Teller County Clerk & Recorder

***

Date:  11/16/2015 4:43 PM

Hello Harvie,

I would like to recap our conversation this morning, and also let you know Janice figured out how to export ballot images by style. Please see my answers in blue below.

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:

City Of Cripple Creek Council Ward 5

with a total of – at  – present 84 votes plus some under and over votes, presumably a number that could also slightly rise this week.

A.) Estimated cost will most likely be $ 25.00 to $50.00 with the first hour being free, we will be able to do the majority of the work in that first hour time frame.

2) I request a total of 50 (if there are that many) ES&S  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.

B.) This once again, is something we are going to have to go through each ballot, the DS200 scanner will read a “x” or checkmark. To go through each ballot and redact any marks it will take us hours so the price is the $500.00 to $550.00 to redact and copy and log each scan.

3)  The set of ES&S scans of the duplicate ballots  that correspond to the scans of originals requested in part three.  Presumably these have by design zero identifying marks

C.) We have around 49 duplicate ballots. However we did not keep them in a separate batch, once again we would have to go through each batch to locate the scanned image. We do have the original ballot in a file folder so we would be able to produce a scan of each of those ballots for you and that would fall into the $ 25.00 to $50.00 with the first hour being free  time frame.

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?)

To be determined per our conversation at our meeting concerning your cost constraint.

Thank you,

Krystal Brown

***

Date: 11/19/2015 2:42 PM

My responses marked by text: “HB>”

Sent from my android device.

—–Original Message—–
From: “Brown, Krystal”
To: “harvie@electionquality.com
Cc: “Hellman, Janice” , “Wise, Stephanie”
Sent: Mon, 16 Nov 2015 4:44 PM
Subject: RE: CORA request of oct. 30 for scans of anonymous voted ballots

Hello Harvie,

I would like to recap our conversation this morning, and also let you know Janice figured out how to export ballot images by style. Please see my answers in blue below.

HB> Thank you.

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:
City Of Cripple Creek Council Ward 5
with a total of – at  – present 84 votes plus some under and over votes, presumably a number that could also slightly rise this week.
A.) Estimated cost will most likely be $ 25.00 to $50.00 with the first hour being free, we will be able to do the majority of the work in that first hour time frame.

HB> Please fulfill this portion of my request.

2) I request a total of 50 (if there are that many) ES&S  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.

B.) This once again, is something we are going to have to go through each ballot, the DS200 scanner will read a “x” or checkmark. To go through each ballot and redact any marks it will take us hours so the price is the $500.00 to $550.00 to redact and copy and log each scan.

HB> Please do not fulfill this portion of my request for reason of prohibitive cost pending any further pricing discussions.

3)  The set of ES&S scans of the duplicate ballots  that correspond to the scans of originals requested in part three.  Presumably these have by design zero identifying marks

C.) We have around 49 duplicate ballots. However we did not keep them in a separate batch, once again we would have to go through each batch to locate the scanned image. We do have the original ballot in a file folder so we would be able to produce a scan of each of those ballots for you and that would fall into the $ 25.00 to $50.00 with the first hour being free  time frame.

HB> Please fulfill the duplication of originals as requested.

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?)

To be determined per our conversation at our meeting concerning your cost constraint.

HB> I am unclear what advance charge is involved in the above-approved portions of my request. Please advise. I will be suggesting some software pursuant to our conversation that may make some of the portions if this request more efficient.

Harvie Branscomb
***