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Canvass Board submits vote abstract, files complaint

Posted: Thursday, Dec 9th, 2010

County Clerk Melinda Myers watches canvass board members Lisa Cyriaks and Scott Alexander as they pore over a machine tally of election results at the final canvass board meeting Dec. 1.

SAGUACHE — Following their final meeting last Wednesday to conclude the completion of the vote abstract for the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office, (SOS), the Saguache County canvass board issued a list of concerns resulting from issues encountered while conducting the final recount.

Democrat Chair Randal Arredondo, Republican Chair Richard Drake, Lisa Cyriaks for the library board, Ed Nielsen for the Moffat School District, Kathy Kulp for the Center School district and Scott Alexander for the Saguache Ambulance District signed the abstract and attached complaint.

This followed a machine retally of the contested Myers/Gomez, Joseph/Carlson races which confirmed the wins of Myers and Joseph.

The following letter written by Lisa Cyriaks was then addressed to the SOS. It is excerpted here.

Dear Mr. Choate and Mr. Buescher,

Please find attached a copy of the Vote Abstract for the recount the canvass board performed on Monday, Nov. 29.

For your information, these numbers were derived in the following manner: the NSCAD 5B question was hand counted and the other two races were run through the M650 machine. The 5B question when it ran through the machine changed the numbers to a tie. We were only able to resolve the matter (which we felt we owed Saguache County voters) by conducting a hand count. The final result matched the numbers from the Nov. 5 tabulation.

In the process of completing this task, we identified a number of additional concerns that we would like to address with you. We are in receipt of the letter from Wayne Munster clarifying our concern about the use of alternative language on ballots while using this machine; and acknowledging the “unfortunate” circumstance that the pre-election logic and accuracy test was not performed according the Rule or according to the specific conditions for use of the M650. Also, the Testing Board was not properly convened and the required steps taken under statute.

1. Other larger concerns the canvass board still has include that the M650 was never secured during the election process – including the critical time between Nov. 2 election counting and the Nov. 5 re-tabulation. In fact, the first time this machine was sealed was Nov. 9 after the BOCC meeting reviewing the election.

2. We also observed that the election officials altered the ballots by placing white sticky tabs and use of felt tip pens to facilitate ease of machine scanning. It is our understanding that this is specifically prohibited in state statute and the rules promulgated by the Secretary of State. The proper process in which the election officials should have been trained was to create duplicate ballots, leaving the original ballots intact as they were voted.

3. The ballot sample for the random audit was selected by the clerk’ s staff solely from the mail ballots and the audit was conducted by an election clerk and one election judge; without any bipartisan representation or canvass board oversight.

4. It should be noted that every time we ran the ballots through the machine it resulted in different numbers.

5. We also observed the inability of the clerk’s staff to create backups and use the disks to transfer data to a computer system for generation of reports. After the second stack of ballots for precincts was ran through the machine on November 29, the voting device failed to accept the disk generating this message: “Counters have reached maximum. Counters restored to last batch saved.”

6. When we attempted to reconcile the mail ballots with the number of envelopes, we found fewer envelopes than any of the page totals generated for mail ballots throughout the election cycle. This discrepancy could have been anywhere from three to 11 envelopes, depending on which report total we used.

Since this was the sector of ballots most impacted by the re-tabulations, especially Precinct 5, this may be of concern. Because the only paperwork produced for us relating to the mail ballots was either the spreadsheet generated by the clerk’s staff or reports from SCORE based on data input by clerk’s staff we were never able to conduct an independent review of the number of ballots received and counted in this election.

We also were denied the opportunity to specifically review and/or hand out the ballots from Precinct 5 which played a key role in the discrepancies. Due to the concerns about the machine, the inability to ascertain with any certainty the chain of custody, and the various violations of procedural requirements, we cannot attest to the accuracy or inaccuracy of the returns.

We also received a complaint from an elector that we have not yet responded to. We are attaching it for your information and hope that the report prepared by your office will address many of these concerns.


Edwin Nielsen, KathyKulp, Richard Drake, Lisa A. Cyriacks, Randy Arredondo

Scott Alexander

For the complete article see the 12-09-2010 issue.

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