By Patrick Colbeck

We have all heard the words “The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history.” My response to this claim is two-fold.

  1. If this was the most secure election in history, that doesn’t say much for previous elections.
  2. #ProveIt. To quote MI State Senator Ed McBroom, “extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.

The best way to “prove it” would be for those brazen enough to make such security claims to support real, forensic audits. Instead of proving it, the purveyors of the “secure election” narrative have done their level best to obstruct any efforts to conduct a forensic audit in any of the battleground states. To make matters worse, there has been a concerted effort to destroy such records prior to September 3, 2022. Under Title 52 Section 20701 of the US Code, election officials are required to secure all election materials for 22 months after the election yet the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation have been silent on such infractions.

How do we expose the fallacy of their “extraordinary claims” that this was the “most secure election in history”?

Let’s start with the assumption that the vast majority of election officials (clerks, canvassers, poll workers, poll inspectors) across the country are honest, conscientious individuals. Is it possible for these honest election officials to have presided over the “most corrupt” election in history? Yes.

“How could that be?” you might ask. They focus upon how elections SHOULD operate not how they COULD be subverted. Election officials generally have confidence that if they simply execute the election system as designed, it will be secure. This begs the question, is the election system secure? If so, who deemed it secure?

When I was a Senior Design Engineer with Boeing, I was confident that my contributions to the design of the Environmental Control and Life Support System for the International Space Station were indeed safe and “secure”….until I spoke with Safety and Reliability officials during design reviews. They pointed out several “what if” scenarios that encouraged me to go back to the drawing board…literally. I’m happy to say that my designs are still safely operating years after their specified design life. Why? I listened to their questions, analyzed options to address their concerns and modified my design to mitigate the risk of their concerns being realized.

I have found that most election officials are very serious about securing the integrity of our elections. After all, who would want to be known as a corrupt election official? That is why I recommend helping them to better understand our election system vulnerabilities by asking them a series of questions. If they have credible, substantive responses to these questions, citizens can be reasonably certain of a secure election for their jurisdiction. If they are unable to do so, honest election officials will start to question the “most secure election in history” narrative and join the pursuit for a forensic audit and substantive election reforms.

So, what questions should we ask election officials? My recommendations are as follows.

General Questions

  • Do you believe that the 2020 election was the most secure election in history?
  • How would you define “election fraud”?
  • Would a willful violation of election law qualify as “election fraud”?
  • Are you aware of credible incidents of election fraud anywhere in Michigan?
  • To which election records do you believe the federal requirement for the preservation of election records applies?
  • Have you read Title 52 Section 20701 of the USC requiring the preservation of election records for 22 months after an election? (REF: “ALL records and papers which come into his possession relating to any application, registration, payment of poll tax, or other act requisite to voting in such election”)
  • Are there any election records which you believe are not subject to the federal requirement for the preservation of election records under the terms of Title 52 Section 20701?
  • What is the difference between an audit and a recount?
  • How would you define a Risk-Limiting Audit?
  • Do you believe a Risk-Limiting Audit satisfies the requirements of MI Constitution Article II Section 4 granting citizens to a right to an audit of statewide election results? Why or why not?
  • Are you aware of any 2020 election audits that have been conducted in Michigan?
  • Has there been an audit of statewide election results conducted in Michigan?
  • Do you believe that the conduct of 250 Risk-Limiting Audits of approximately 18,000 ballots constitutes an audit of statewide election results? How about a recount (NOTE: Only 72 ballots per precinct examined on average in precincts with as many as 2,999 eligible voters)? Why or why not?
  • What is the purpose of the board of canvassers (state and county)?
  • What are the responsibilities of the state board of canvassers?
  • Should a canvasser certify an election if the chain of custody for that jurisdiction has been demonstrably broken?
  • Which do you believe is a better measure of election integrity?
    a. Audit log demonstrating that the election record Chain of Custody was not breached
    b. Hand Recount confirms Statement of Votes
    If a), why do you repeatedly assert that b) is sufficient to demonstrate no evidence of election fraud?
    If a), why are you not pursuing a forensic audit?
  • Have you been directed by the State Bureau of Elections to prohibit access to any election records by citizens? What records were prohibited? What records were allowed to be seen? What reasons were given for prohibitions?
  • If this was the “most secure election in history”, why do you believe there is so much effort being applied to obstruct investigations into the veracity of that claim?
  • Did you receive any funds from a non-government entity (e.g. CTCL) in support of your election preparation or operations?

Technical Questions

  • What standards do you use to certify the software configuration of your voting machines?
  • Who verifies compliance of the software configuration for each machine with these standards? When?
  • Would you classify the installation of non-certified software on election equipment as an “irregularity” that needs to be investigated?
  • Are you aware that multiple technical experts discovered the installation of SQL Server Management Studio on Antrim County election equipment?
  • Are you aware that SQL Server Management Studio is not part of the Election Assistance Commission certified software configuration?
  • Are you aware of why this software is not allowed as part of the certified software configuration? Do you know what functions it is capable of?
  • Do you believe that the installation of non-certified software capable of changing election results would be grounds for decertification of the election? If not, what do you believe is the appropriate criteria for the “certification” of an election?
  • What standards do you use to certify the hardware configuration of your voting machines?
  • Who verifies compliance of the hardware configuration for each machine with these standards? When?
  • Do you connect any of your election voting equipment to any any other electronic devices during the period of time between the software and hardware certification of your machines and the certification of the election results? If so, by what means (e.g. Wi-Fi, Ethernet, 3G/4G Modem)?
  • Are your communications encrypted? If so, who controls the encryption keys used?
  • Do you have a list of all of the IP and MAC addresses for all election equipment and connected network devices used during the election? If not, how do you secure the chain of custody pertaining to electronic voting records if you do not know what devices have access to those records?
  • Do you have a record of the connection settings for any applications transferring data to external networks? Do you know with absolute certainty whether or not these connection settings allow for two-way data transfers? If so, how do you know?
  • Have you completed a software audit of all devices connected to your election voting equipment? Hardware audit? If not, why not? If so, when? How?
  • Do you connect any of your election voting equipment to election equipment at municipal offices? County offices? State offices? By what means?
  • Do you have access to traffic logs for all of your network devices (e.g. routers)? Where are these logs stored? How are they secured?
  • Do you believe that if any one of these networked devices are compromised, the election record chain of custody is compromised?
  • Have you been told by vendors that your voting systems are “air gapped”?
  • If so, what proof were you provided of this assertion?
  • Are you aware of the discovery of a 4G Wireless modem being found installed on the motherboard of an ES&S 200 voting machine? (i.e. every time the machine was turned on, it was telling the internet “here I am”)
  • Are you aware that there is evidence of this device communicating with foreign servers (Taiwan, Germany) during the election cycle?
  • Does it concern you that there is evidence of foreign communications with our election system?
  • Have you inspected the motherboards for your voting systems to preclude the existence of any wireless modems?
  • Do you drop off your equipment to third party vendors for “maintenance”?
  • Do you certify the configuration of your equipment before drop off and upon return? If so, how do you certify the configuration? If not, how do you verify that the chain of custody for the election has not been subverted as a result of configuration changes made by your vendor or parties to which the equipment was shipped out by vendor?
  • Do you have the administrative account credentials for your election management system?
  • Do you have the administrative account credentials for all electronic devices within your jurisdiction (e.g. servers, laptops, routers)?
  • Do you have the administrative account credentials for any database management software used to support election management?
  • Do you share your administrative account credentials between personnel or does each individual have their own account credentials?
  • When was the last time you changed your account credentials?
  • Do any vendors have administrative account credentials for your voting equipment? If so, have you ever conducted an audit of their administrative activity on your election equipment?

Chain of Custody Questions

  • Do you believe it is the responsibility of election officials to maintain the chain of custody for election records?
  • For which election records, if any, should chain of custody be demonstrated?
  • Provide examples of how your election record chain of custody is maintained for each election record (e.g. logs)
  • Have you reviewed event logs for electronic voting equipment under your jurisdiction? If not, how do you verify that the chain of custody pertaining to electronic election records has been maintained?
  • What are the risks to election integrity if any if the chain of custody has not been maintained?

Qualified Voter File Questions

  • Do you believe that the preservation of Qualified Voter File records falls under the records protection requirements of Title 52 Section 20701 of USC?
  • Which organizations have the ability to view, add, modify or delete QVF records?
  • How are these activities recorded?
  • Who monitors these activities by these organizations? How?
  • How do you verify the integrity of QVF data for your jurisdiction? Who performs this verification? What methods are used? When is this verification performed?
  • If absentee ballot applications were mailed to all people listed in the QVF, do you have records of when each voter was mailed an application? Do you have records when these applications were returned?
  • Would you be concerned about election integrity if an analysis determined that over 616,000 of the entries in the QVF were not eligible to vote yet still listed in the QVF as eligible?
  • Would you be concerned about election integrity if the Qualified Voter File were not to account for 1,061 out of the 15,962 ballots said to have been cast in a given county? Would you concede this as an indication that the election record chain of custody is broken?
  • Do you have a snapshot of the QVF for your jurisdiction prior to the election? Post-election certification? Have you analyzed the two for any differences?
  • Who has administrative account credentials for the QVF? Are these credentials shared between individuals or are users required to have unique account credentials?

Poll Book Questions

  • Do you believe that the preservation of Poll Book records falls under the records protection requirements of Title 52 Section 20701 of USC?
  • Do you use electronic poll books or paper poll books?
  • If electronic poll books, when do you load the election day configuration of your poll book?
  • Do you disconnect your poll book from all networks once the election day electronic poll book has been loaded?
  • How many instances of poll books do poll workers use in your jurisdiction for each precinct to verify the identity of voters and track their voting status? (e.g. Do you have one copy for poll-based poll workers and another for Absentee Voting Counting Board poll workers for the same precinct?)
  • Did you manually add any voters to the poll book on election day? If so, under whose direction?
  • Did you add any voters to the poll book after election day? If so, under whose direction?
  • Do you have a list of election day registrants? Do you have records indicating the issuance of provisional ballots to these registrants? Were these ballots tabulated? If so, were they tabulated prior to verification of the voter eligibility to vote or after?
  • Do you have a record of who voted by mail and who voted in person for each precinct?
  • How did you verify the voting age of voters listed in your poll books?
  • Do you have a record of how the identity of each voter was verified before tabulating their ballot?
  • How did you verify signatures on ballot envelopes for absentee ballots? If automated, what equipment was used? Where are the configuration settings for this equipment documented? How was the accuracy of your verification method validated?
  • Did you refuse to capture an challenges raised by a certified poll challenger? If so, why? What impact do you believe a failure to capture such challenges would have on board of canvasser election certification activities?
  • How do you explain the fact that the voter turnout in every county in a given state follows a single formula based upon 2010 demographics?
  • If electronic poll books are used, who has administrative account credentials for the poll book? Are these credentials shared between individuals or are users required to have unique account credentials?

Ballot Questions

  • Do you have any ballot drop boxes within your jurisdiction? How many? Who paid for them? How are they monitored? Who specifically picked up the ballots from each drop box and when?
  • Do you believe that the preservation of ballots falls under the records protection requirements of Title 52 Section 20701 of USC?
  • Do you believe that the preservation of ballot images falls under the records protection requirements of Title 52 Section 20701 of USC?
  • Do you believe that the preservation of both pre-adjudication and post-adjudication ballot images falls under the records protection requirements of Title 52 Section 20701 of USC?
  • Do you store both pre-adjudication and post-adjudication ballot images? If so, where are they stored? How have they been secured?
  • Do you believe that the preservation of spoiled ballots under the records protection requirements of Title 52 Section 20701 of USC?
  • Have you preserved all of your spoiled ballots? Where are they stored? How have they been secured?
  • Do you believe that the preservation of blank ballots falls under the records protection requirements of Title 52 Section 20701 of USC?
  • Have you stored all of your unused ballots? Where are they stored? How have they been secured?
  • Do you have any blank ballots mixed in with cast ballots in your ballot storage containers?
  • Do you believe that the preservation of ballot envelopes falls under the records protection requirements of Title 52 Section 20701 of USC?
  • Have you stored all of your ballot envelopes? Where are they stored? How have they been secured?
  • Do you use non-authorized ballot storage containers for any step during ballot processing? If so, please describe how the chain of custody for the ballots are maintained during usage of non-authorized ballot storage containers.
  • Do you have any absentee voting counting board ballots which show no evidence of folding?
  • Did you require or offer sharpies to voters in order to mark their ballots with their votes?
  • Do you have a rejected ballots report? Does the report include reasons for each rejection?
  • Do you have a ballot test matrix that was used in support of the public accuracy test for your tabulation machines? Does this matrix include all permutations of vote options in a given election? Which permutations does it not address? Did you store your test ballots? Where are they stored? How are they secured?
  • Did you issue public notification of the public accuracy test prior to the election? If so, how was the public notified?

Vote Tally Questions

  • Do you believe that the preservation of vote tallies falls under the records protection requirements of Title 52 Section 20701 of USC?
  • How are votes tallied? Manual or Automated.
  • If vote tabulation is automated, what error rate was evident? (i.e. # ballots requiring adjudication/total number of ballot scans)
  • If vote tabulation is automated, is the vote tabulation equipment networked with any other device(s) on your local network? If so, do you have any records of which devices were on that network?
  • How are vote tallies transferred from device to device in your local network? (e.g. Person in the loop routes the data or it is automated on the basis of pre-defined heuristics) Do you have a record of each vote tally transfer that occurred between election day and the certification of the election results for your jurisdiction? Where is this record stored? How has it been secured?
  • Do you provide unofficial election results prior to closure of your precincts?
  • How are these results communicated to external entities? Do you have a list of entities to which you transfer election results? Do you have time-stamps for each vote tally transfer?
  • Do you verify the vote tally on the sending and receiving end every time there is a transfer of data over the network? How do you verify the tally?
  • If your vote tallies are communicated over a network, what evidence are you able to provide that confirms you were secured from any cyber threats such as a “man-in-the-middle” attack.
  • As an election official, how would you explain the vote spikes reflected on the following diagram? Do you believe the observed anomalies merit further investigation? Why or why not?

Statutory Compliance Questions

Compliance with state and federal statutes reveals another important set of questions for election officials.

State Election Laws

The following state election law questions are geared towards compliance with Michigan election law. If you are interviewing election officials from a different state, please regard the following questions as examples. You will need to investigate and itemize the pertinent election statutes for your state.

  • Do you believe the integrity of the election is at risk as a result of violations of MCL 168.24j: Containers? Has any evidence of violation(s) of this statute been brought to your attention? What actions were taken?
  • Do you believe the integrity of the election is at risk as a result of violations of MCL 168.31a: Audits? Has any evidence of violation(s) of this statute been brought to your attention? What actions were taken?
  • Do you believe the integrity of the election is at risk as a result of violations of MCL 168.37: Uniform Voting System? Has any evidence of violation(s) of this statute been brought to your attention? What actions were taken?
  • Do you believe the integrity of the election is at risk as a result of violations of MCL 168.509n: SoS Duties? Has any evidence of violation(s) of this statute been brought to your attention? What actions were taken?
  • Do you believe the integrity of the election is at risk as a result of violations of MCL 168.509r: QVF Maintenance? Has any evidence of violation(s) of this statute been brought to your attention? What actions were taken?
  • Do you believe the integrity of the election is at risk as a result of violations of MCL 168.510: Dead Voters? Has any evidence of violation(s) of this statute been brought to your attention? What actions were taken?
  • Do you believe the integrity of the election is at risk as a result of violations of MCL 168.727: Challenge Documentation? Has any evidence of violation(s) of this statute been brought to your attention? What actions were taken?
  • Do you believe the integrity of the election is at risk as a result of violations of MCL 168.734: Challenger Interference? Has any evidence of violation(s) of this statute been brought to your attention? What actions were taken?
  • Do you believe the integrity of the election is at risk as a result of violations of MCL 168.735: Poll Books? Has any evidence of violation(s) of this statute been brought to your attention? What actions were taken?
  • Do you believe the integrity of the election is at risk as a result of violations of MCL 168.765a AV Counting Board? Has any evidence of violation(s) of this statute been brought to your attention? What actions were taken?
  • Do you believe the integrity of the election is at risk as a result of violations of MCL 168.765 Ballot Verification? Has any evidence of violation(s) of this statute been brought to your attention? What actions were taken?
  • Do you believe the integrity of the election is at risk as a result of violations of MCL 168.798 Tabulation Testing? Has any evidence of violation(s) of this statute been brought to your attention? What actions were taken?
  • Do you believe the integrity of the election is at risk as a result of violations of MCL 168.931 Misdemeanor Conduct? Has any evidence of violation(s) of this statute been brought to your attention? What actions were taken?
  • Do you believe the integrity of the election is at risk as a result of violations of MCL 168.932 Felonious Conduct? Has any evidence of violation(s) of this statute been brought to your attention? What actions were taken?
  • Do you believe the integrity of the election is at risk as a result of violations of MCL 752.11 Law Enforcement Responsibility? Has any evidence of violation(s) of this statute been brought to your attention? What actions were taken?
  • Do you find it concerning that there have been no investigations into any alleged violations of the aforementioned state statutes by state law enforcement authorities?
  • What do you believe is the net impact upon election integrity if state election laws are not enforced?

Federal Election Laws

  • Do you believe the integrity of the election is at risk as a result of violations of USC Title 18 Section 2384 Seditious Conspiracy? Has any evidence of violation(s) of this statute been brought to your attention? What actions were taken?
  • Do you believe the integrity of the election is at risk as a result of violations of USC Title 52 Section 20701? Has any evidence of violation(s) of this statute been brought to your attention? What actions were taken?
  • Do you believe the integrity of the election is at risk as a result of violations of USC Title 52 Section 20702? Has any evidence of violation(s) of this statute been brought to your attention? What actions were taken?
  • Do you find it concerning that there have been no investigations into any alleged violations of the aforementioned federal statutes by federal law enforcement authorities?
  • What do you believe is the net impact upon election integrity if these federal laws are not enforced?

NOTE: For your convenience, you can download a PDF version of all of these questions via link below.

ELECTION OFFICIAL QUESTIONS

Summary

We can show our evidence. We can cite our right to an audit. We can demand investigations.

It is all to no avail unless we can encourage election officials to sincerely question the narrative “this was the most secure election in history”. I truly believe that the vast majority of our election officials are good people. They want to do what is right. Unfortunately, what they neglect to realize is that there are bad people in the world who seek to subvert the integrity of our elections. The good election officials have effectively fitted themselves with blinders. These blinders correspond to blind faith in a system that is not as secure as they have been led to think it is. Once election officials begin to realize they may not know as much as they thought they knew about the elections, we can finally enlist them in the call for forensic audits as partners not adversaries.

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