Court rules ballot tracking illegal in Washington

Court declares illegal ballot tracker to be illegal. (Citizens have to
sue for this decision.) Track-back barcodes on mail-ballots lets
government snoop into your vote.

Here is a recent press release about this little-reported, but
crucial, court decision:

Green Party of San Juan County Press Release – 5 April 2013

(FRIDAY HARBOR, WA, 5 April 2013) – San Juan County Superior Court
Judge Donald E. Eaton ruled that a controversial voting system using
voter-identifying barcodes on ballots is illegal. The system has been
used for years in several Washington counties. Similar lawsuits are
underway in Colorado.

Local voters and the San Juan County Green Party prevailed over former
Secretary of State Sam Reed and San Juan County Auditor Milene Henley
in a citizen suit originally brought by Orcas Island residents Tim
White and Allan Rosato in 2006. The two seek to remove the unique
ballot bar codes.

The system, dubbed VoteHere Mail-in Ballot Tracker (MiBT), is a
paperless election tracking, processing and auditing software package.
A series of processing station time stamps purports to track each
ballot from the time it was sent to the voter to the time it was
counted. On March 27 Judge Eaton ruled that MiBT is an integral part
of the voting system, and required to undergo rigorous certification.
State law prohibits voting systems not certified under the
legislature’s program of public examination and expert testing.

White and Rosato decided to pursue the suit after intensive sampling
of MiBT tracking data posted online by San Juan County in 2005. They
documented anomalies suggesting inconsistent, impossible and changed
ballot tracks for some ten percent of voters: ballots counted before
they were received, two ballots accepted from the same voter, ballots
received and counted though never sent out, and dozens received and
signature-accepted but not counted. The two became even more concerned
when, after they presented their findings and the election was
certified, much of the inconsistent tracks were suddenly “fixed” with
new entries-and then returned to its original confused state two
months later.

For Rosato, the issue struck to the core of his confidence as a voter:
“Not only was the code for this proprietary software not available for
public inspection, it hadn’t even gone through the voting system
certification process. So how were we, as voters, to know-first of
all, that the software was working properly-and second, that it wasn’t
being used for other purposes, such as manipulating votes or linking
voters to their votes?”

The case is spiced with charges that Secretary Reed awarded millions
in no-bid contracts to the tiny company, VoteHere, whose chairman and
chief lobbyist, Ralph Munro, was Reed’s mentor and campaign chair.
VoteHere’s principals also included several U.S. intelligence power
brokers, such as Robert Gates, former U.S. Secretary of Defense and
head of the CIA.

White is ready for change. “We sustained this effort to expose and
block the push-button election rigging and secret ballot snooping
capabilities we documented. The gavel is down for San Juan and other
counties to stop using this rogue voting system. It’s past time to
remove unique bar codes from our ballots and to open up this ‘black
box’ voting system to public certification testing. Judge Eaton
affirmed citizen rights to know how our votes are counted.”

Seattle public interest attorney Knoll Lowney represents White, Rosato
and the Green Party of San Juan County, where the offending voting
system was first deployed. Lowney said “It is unfortunate that a
lawsuit was required to force the Secretary of State and San Juan
County to protect these voters’ confidence in the voting system. Every
voter should have an equal right to vote on a certified system and
these voters were denied that protection.”

Across the street from Judge Eaton’s chambers, San Juan County
officials are busy issuing ballots for the April 23 Special Election.
Auditor Henley ignored the decision in her interview in Wednesday’s
local media, and has not responded to inquiry whether they are still
using the tracking and auditing voting system now officially ruled

Read Judge Eaton’s ruling here.

Originally published at Black Box Voting

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