This post is an addendum to my column of Sept. 29, 2010. It is the culmination of months of FOI requests directed to the S.C. Election Commission and the Charleston County Board of Elections by citizen investigator Frank Heindel, which began after the highly dubious June 8 primary. What you will see here is an email Heindel sent to members of the county election board on Sept. 14, 2010, expressing his concern about the large number of "events" which occurred with the iVotronic voting machines on June 8, as detailed in audit logs from the machines. Heindel had been requesting these logs for two months, only to be met with excuses and foot-dragging from board executive director Marilyn Bowers.
On Wednesday morning, Sept. 15, board members met with Bowers. On Thursday morning, Bowers suddenly announced her retirement as head of the board. This post does not contain her resignation letter, and her letter makes no mention of Heindel, his FOI campaign or the June 8 primary. Bowers' resignation letter can be seen in a subsequent blog post.
These emails are best read from bottom to top to capture their chronological order.
To my MANY array of friends in the “Election World”,
I wanted to personally let ALL of you know that I will be retiring as the Executive Director of the Board of Elections and Voter Registration of Charleston County following the Nov 2nd General Election. There were so many memories revived as I went through this list of recipients for this email. My last date of employment with Charleston County is undetermined at this time but I will be staying long enough to make sure everything is finalized following the election and assist with a smooth transition for whoever is chosen to fill this position.
Thanks to ALL of you for all of the help that you have given me (some of you for MANY years — more than we like to think about) over the years. It is hard to imagine that someone so young as I am (HA!) could have possibly been conducting elections for 30+ years but it is true — guess it gets in your blood.
I have attached the letter that I presented to the Board last night and to my Staff today that will hopefully enlighten you as to why I am retiring at this time. Don’t be strangers just because I will not be practicing as an “Election Official”. I do plan to stay active in SCARE and the election world.
Marilyn Bowers, Executive Director
Board of Elections and Voter Registration
——- Forwarded Message ——-
Sent: Tuesday, September 14, 2010 8:14:32 AM
Subject: Charleston County voting machine performance summary June 8, 2010
September 14, 2010
Charleston County Board of Elections
Dear Charleston County Board of Elections Members,
The audit logs from the Charleston County June 8, 2010 primary include many unexplained events which could indicate serious problems with the voting machines. I am writing to you to request an explanation of these events and also to request you to publish these audit logs online along with the meanings of all the events encountered with our voting machines after each election.
I have requested Charleston County election employees to explain what causes these events and the meaning of the messages, but have been unable to obtain an adequate explanation. My immediate reaction to these events is that all did not go well in this election. A thorough analysis is needed, including the reason each message is issued, the complete meaning of the message, and a description of any action taken by the Ivotronic voting machine in response to the event.
As an example of the problems encountered, consider iVotronic #5137929. One hundred forty-six Charleston County voters cast their votes on this machine, which had 324 unexplained events between the time the first vote was cast at 7:10 a.m. and the last vote was cast at 6:50 p.m. These included 202 events of "PEB access failed", 58 events of "Failed to retrieve EQC from PEB", 58 events of "Terminal shutdown - IPS exit", and 6 events of "Terminal shutdown". Contrast this performance with that of Ivotronic # 5138665 , where 179 voters cast their votes without a single suspicious event. If one machine can perform with no suspicious events, then cannot a high percentage of the machines be expected to perform at that level?
According to the head tech in Charleston County, the "Terminal shutdown - IPS exit" event is most likely caused by dead batteries. IPS stands for Internal Power Supply. Charleston County had 822 "Terminal shutdown -IPS exit" events involving 199 voting machines. This means that 49% of our voting machines apparently shut down at least once on Election Day due to a problem that is being blamed on dead batteries. Since the ES&S User Manual undoubtedly calls for recharging batteries on all Ivotronics in a short time period before each election, does the ES&S system provide a way to detect underperforming batteries before the election?
Inadequate voting machine performance may also cause longer lines on Election Day. For example, 32 machines were not open and ready for voters at 7:00 a.m. There were 19 machines that had to have their date and or time changed after 7:00 a.m. indicating that no one had properly checked the machines prior to Election Day. Sixteen voting machines had their zero tapes printed after votes were cast, which is surely a serious violation of approved election procedures. What is Charleston County's policy regarding the testing of voting machines prior to Election Day? Were all 391 of these voting machines checked and tested prior to Election Day?
Another concern I have is with the lack of proper security measures regarding our voting system. Charleston County has been hiring part time rovers to fix our voting machines on Election Day. These rovers have access to the passwords, yet they have not been filling out any incident reports or logs detailing what machines they were fixing, what the problems were, and what the solutions were to the problems. Also, the passwords the rovers are using have not been changed in years. These serious security lapses are simply unacceptable and need to be corrected prior to the next election.
I have summarized the Charleston County voting machine performance for the 391 voting machines used on June 8, 2010 below.
Please explain the meaning of these messages, the cause of each event, and the action that the voting machine takes in response to each event. The people of South Carolina need to be able to trust that our voting machines are functioning properly and these events certainly do not inspire confidence.
Mt. Pleasant, SC
Vote cancelled -terminal problem -33 events on 20 machines
PEB access failed- 2351 events on 211 machines
Terminal shutdown- IPS exit- 822 events on 199 machines
Election ID data mismatch -PEB vs. CF 88 events
Failed to retrieve EQC from PEB- 816 events
Failed to get PEB ballot header block- 10 events on 10 machines
Failed to get PEB EQC block- 16 events on 13 machines
Failed to get PEB revision- 4 events on 4 machines
Failed to get PEB type - 228 events
Failed to get PEB vote header block - 43 events
Invalid PEB for procedure- 7 events
Set terminal date and/or time- 19 machines reset after 7:00 a.m.
Zero tapes printed after votes have been cast- 16 machines
Terminal shutdown (after 7:30 a.m. and prior to 6:30 p.m.) - 800 events on 255 machines
Select calibrate screen -33 events on 18 machines
Terminal touchscreen recalibrated -21 events on 14 machines
PEB block CRC error- 73 events
PEB not prepared for polls- 4 events
Terminal shutdown -DIE exit - 7 events on 7 machines
PEB pulled during PEB block read - 30 events on 26 machines
Close terminal early - 7 events on 7 machines
Warning - I/O flag set - 20 events on 4 machines
Warning- can not read terminal screen- 1 event
Terminal -opening state - 32 machines had this event after 7:00 a.m. indicating machines not ready for voters