Saturday, November 20, 2004

Destroying evidence in Florida 

Thom Hartmann, in this article, shares a remarkable account regarding Beverly Harris's efforts, www.blackboxvoting.org, in Volusia County, Florida. She found garbage bags full of original computer tapes from the evoting machines:

Bev showed up bright and early the morning of Wednesday the 17th - well before the scheduled meeting - and discovered three of the elections officials in the Elections Warehouse standing over a table covered with what looked like poll tapes. When they saw Bev and her friends, Bev told me in a telephone interview less than an hour later, "They immediately shoved us out and slammed the door."

In a way, that was a blessing, because it led to the stinking evidence.

"On the porch was a garbage bag," Bev said, "and so I looked in it and, and lo and behold, there were public record tapes."

Thrown away. Discarded. Waiting to be hauled off.

"It was technically stinking, in fact," Bev added, "because what they had done was to have thrown some of their polling tapes, which are the official records of the election, into the garbage. These were the ones signed by the poll workers. These are something we had done an official public records request for."

When the elections officials inside realized that the people outside were going through the trash, they called the police and one came out to challenge Bev.

Kathleen Wynne, a www.blackboxvoting.org investigator, was there.

"We caught the whole thing on videotape," she said. "I don't think you'll ever see anything like this - Bev Harris having a tug of war with an election worker over a bag of garbage, and he held onto it and she pulled on it, and it split right open, spilling out those poll tapes. They were throwing away our democracy, and Bev wasn't going to let them do it."

...and local news in Volusia county is beginning to take notice of Beverly Harris:

Watchdog Group Focuses on Optical Scan Voting
Staff Writer

Last update: November 19, 2004

After finding voting documents from Nov. 2 in trash cans behind two county buildings, a national watchdog group has named Volusia County one of its top priorities for investigation in the country.

Bev Harris, founder of Black Box Voting, a Seattle-based organization of elections activists, said Thursday her group is forming a team of investigators and attorneys to look into possible voting irregularities in Volusia County.

Their interest was piqued when representatives found polling place tapes, which show a printed record of ballots fed into optical scanning machines, in the garbage at the Department of Elections' warehouse on State Road 44 in DeLand and at the office behind the county administration building in downtown DeLand.

"Finding the tape in the garbage was beyond comical," Harris said in a phone interview. "The American people want an answer."

Elections Supervisor Deanie Lowe said the tapes were duplicates and the originals are still available for anyone to see. She said the duplicates provide a backup voting record as a safeguard.

Today, Black Box Voting representatives plan to officially request a hand-count in Volusia County to see the ballots in at least 50 precincts. That could involve election officials holding up thousands of ballots individually for those in the audience to see.

The exact precincts have not been listed, so the number counted could vary.

Black Box Voting has requested voting records from election offices in every county in the country, but has focused on the counties that use a specific type of optical scanning machine, Harris said. Thousands of volunteers have signed up to audit those records and make sure election totals match voter tallies on polling place tapes.

Representatives picked up 1,115 copies of Volusia County's receipt-like tapes late Wednesday. They paid $127 for the documents.

Black Box Voting could use the information to challenge an election, Harris said.