From Black Box Voting http://www.bbvforums.org/cgi-bin/forums/board-auth.cgi?file=/1954/71456.html
(please go here to see all the evidence!)
Sunday, January 20, 2008 - 5:50 am
The "seals" are not seals. The "chain of custody" is not a chain of custody. Ballots being transported by the "state police" are actually transported by Butch and Hoppy, who are not employed by the state police. Butch and Hoppy's real names are not really Butch and Hoppy.
In New Hampshire, it's all hidden in plain sight.
If you are on the home page of Black Box Voting, click "more" to see a brief photo essay for how this all works. Bev Harris
"Butch" and "Hoppy"
"Butch" is on the left, "Hoppy" is on the right.
This is the van that "Butch" and "Hoppy" drive. These two men pick up all the ballots in New Hampshire from more than 230 locations and bring them to one central location for the recount.
They are followed by a single state trooper.
"Butch" has a real name: Armand Dubois. He doesn't like to be photographed and in video after video, he ducks out of the shots. He wears a baseball cap and dark glasses. At one point he said "you're taking a picture of me?"
Perhaps he's shy, but this is an evaluation of chain of custody, which includes knowing the names and background for people who ride around the state inside a van containing the ballots for the presidential primary election.
According to "Butch", the real name for "Hoppy" is Peter, but we do not yet know the last name. "Hoppy" is not camera shy, but we would like to know his real name and background. (Do not post personal or speculative information here. It will be removed. E-mail privately to email@example.com
Ballots are contained in a variety of cardboard boxes, with a few metal boxes thrown in from certain parts of Manchester. The New Hampshire secretary of state's office, which provides the labels for the boxes and provides the ballots for all the towns, claims they leave the decision up to the towns as to how to secure their ballots.
When people ask about the security of using old, used cardboard boxes to transport and store the official ballots for the presidential primary election, New Hampshire state officials quickly frame the issue as one of "frugality" and paint the problem over with rustic charm.
That doesn't address the problem. The random nature of the boxes enables both accidental and deliberate chain of custody breaches.
If the state of New Hampshire can provide the ballots and tell the towns what labels to use, they can tell them what container to store ballots in, or at the very least, publish guidelines for this.
Originally, the ballots were to be delivered to the state archive warehouse without notification to the public as to when they would arrive, and without permitting the public to photograph or videotape the ballot intake process.
The team assembled by Black Box Voting objected to this and insisted on public access to view the incoming ballot boxes and the intake process. We prevailed, at least temporarily.
So they have been bringing the ballots in the front door, taking them through the counting room, out the back door, through the electronically key-coded door into the archive warehouse, down the hall inside the key-carded warehouse, placing them in what they call a "vault" which is actually a small room with a lock that can be opened by a single key.
Ballots being transported from "vault" to counting room
Other items besides ballots have been kept in the "vault" as well:
Items left in ballot vault after transporting ballots, held in "vault" overnight, to the counting room.
Two other observations about the state archive warehouse:
They use the same bar code identification system for all items.
There are no windows and no way to observe what is going on in the warehouse. It has two loading bays in addition to the electronically key-carded door, and the counted ballots are NOT stored in the "vault" but rather, on shelves like all the other documents. Here is a photo of the loading bays:
As ballots are being transported back and forth to the warehouse "vault" and being counted in the counting room, boxes are being loaded and unloaded from the loading bay behind the building.
Shelves inside warehouse.
Ballot boxes photographed while being removed from the "vault":
Secretary of state Bill Gardner has several assistant and deputy secretaries of state. The assistant secretary of state in charge of ballots and ballot chain of custody is David Scanlan.
Here is David Scanlon (far end) moving a ballot cart with state archive employee Brian Burford.
Ballot box closeups:
The box below was shipped from the secretary of state TO the town clerk. The pinkish label is a shipping lable and so is the label next to it saying "deliver to":
The rebuttal provided by state and archive employees to concerns about the particular slit shown above is that the label on the top is the only thing that counts.
I'll post a closeup photo of the top label further down. On the top label are the signatures of the selectmen and information about location and information about the ballots inside.
I chose the above photo because it provides a clear image of the SHIP TO labels and also shows the label on the box top that is said to secure the ballot box. I cannot tell from this photo whether the clear tape is on top of that label or underneath it, but let's give the benefit of the doubt and assume the label on top is further secured with clear plastic tape.
This is not a chain of custody. There is absolutely no way for any observer to tell whether the clear plastic tape (if it's over the top label) was affixed on the night of the election, by the town clerk after the election, by Butch and Hoppy or a person they met enroute, or in the vault in the middle of the night.
It is easy to get distracted with off-topic questions like "are you accusing Butch and Hoppy?" or to take at face value someone's statement that the tape was put there on election night.
THAT IS NOT A CHAIN OF CUSTODY.
The only item that even remotely resembles a chain of custody is the signed label on the top of the box. Since we have no idea when the other tape was put on, or who affixed it, that tape cannot be considered part of the chain of custody.
Furthermore, this taping of the label was not a consistent practice from box to box or town to town.
I think we can all understand that the town clerk would slit open the end of the box to retrieve shipped ballots.
That explains the slits that ONLY slit the two original shipping labels.
That doesn't answer the chain of custody questions revealed by the above slit. The questions raised by the above photo in my mind are:
1) Can someone get their hand into the slit?
2) Was the box slit secured by tape or anything when it came out of the van?
3) Was the box slit secured in any way at the town before pickup?
4) Is there any record of what the box looked like on election night and also, before pickup? In other words, do the signatures even match, is the tape in the same places.
5) If there is no tape securing the label at the top, it would be the ONLY thing securing the box since the sides are slit. If this label is removed, does it leave telltale evidence?
6) Does the slitting of the labels upon receipt of original ballots explain all openings on all ballot boxes?
Let's look into that a little further.
Here is a ballot box that has been opened for counting.
Here is a ballot box that has been counted. It has both the lable affixed at the town with the selectmen's signatures on it, and a new label affixed to show it has been counted.
Here is an empty ballot box with the top label attached. The ballots are in the process of being counted. As Anthony Stevens, from the sec. state office, watched I checked to see whether the labels on the top of the boxes leave any mark if you remove and reaffix.
They stopped my experiment after I had peeled about two inches.
I now call these labels "Post-Its".
It is important NOT to allow referring to these labels as "seals" because they are not seals, they are removable labels. When writing about the chain of custody in New Hampshire, we should not refer to the boxes as being "sealed" by these labels, which are in many cases the only line of defense when the end of the box top is sliced.
These are labels. Not seals. A "seal" actually "seals" the container. These labels do not seal it.
The person with responsibility for making sure the seals are actually seals is Assistant Secretary of State David Scanlan. He chose labels that are not seals.
I asked Scanlan if he believed the ballot boxes were secure when slit at the end. He said the boxes are secure because of the label on the top. Here's a hand in the slit. You decide if you are comfortable with this.
He was referring to what I call the "PostIt" note.
After seeing the condition of the ballot boxes coming out of the vault, I was curious about the condition of the boxes as they were unloaded from the van. The photos below are of ballots unloaded from the van during the early afternoon of Thursday, Jan. 17:
Let's have a closer look at that last box coming out of the van:
Pat and Manny, the representatives for Kucinich, did not go back to the ballot vault with me. To the best of my knowledge, the only people who went back there were the Hillary Clinton observers.
The Kucinich representatives have said they are comfortable with the chain of custody. I did not see them take a single photograph, nor did I see them lodge any protest about this.
Republican ballots were also brought in, to the best of my knowledge, WITHOUT notifying the Republican candidate who has paid for a recount.
The next series of photos will be from the towns we visited to capture photos of the condition of the ballot boxes before they were loaded into the van. I will do that in a separate thread, perhaps later, and open this thread for discussion now.
In New Hampshire, the ballot chain of custody is a bunch of broken cardboard boxes with a post-it on top.
Okay, done for now. More later. Scott Perry
Not sure if you already have this info. I just joined the forum today.
Found our friend Armand's contact info....
Go to this link for Armand Dubois contact information.http://admin.state.nh.us/directory/procSearch_internet.asp?FName=&LName=dubois&l
The only Peter in the SoS Records and Archives dept.http://admin.state.nh.us/directory/procSearch_internet.asp?FName=peter&LName=&ls
tDepts2=SECRETARY+OF+STATE&btnSearchPeople=Search+by+Name Bev Harris
BBV participant Chris Reid has identified Hoppy.
His name is Peter Falzone. He provided a link to a state employee list with Peter "Pete" Falzone and an address for a Hoppy Falzone. He's a stock clerk. Jenny L. Hurley
Remember, White Pages has a lot of phone numbers, if you need that. Scott Perry
phone numbers are provided on the links above.
As well an email address for Hoppy. Jason Reed
So. They PAY for state police and get Peter & Armand? It seems some one AT LEAST, has a refund comming.
Great work, BEV et al! You're an assett to the people. Your investigation was well worth your effort. (BIG HUG!) John Howard
It's not clear from any of the photographs whether or not any of the so-called seals are actually numbered.
In Canadian Federal elections, the box seals are individually numbered and must be signed for and accounted for, even if the extras are unused. The numbers of the seals placed on the top AND bottom of the boxes, are recorded on the equivalent of the precinct summary report, and become part of the record of the election. Numbered seals are not removed, but are instead cut, so that if a box needs to be resealed for some legitimate reason (which must also be documented) there is a record of every seal placed on the box, to whom the numbered seal was issued, and by whom the replacement numbered seal was affixed.
Keep in mind also, that the consistently sized, numbered seals are made specifically for the consistently sized boxes that are used for the transport of the marked ballots. The supposedly 'frugal' use of inconsistent recycled boxes from heaven-knows-where simply isn't an option.
(Message edited by harmonyguy on January 20, 2008) christine c reid
I myself didn't have a lens through which to evaluate chain of custody and election integrity questions, and thought it would be helpful to read the thinking of professionals whose job it is to protect and ensure the integrity of evidence -- criminal investigators.
For any novices also interested in such a point of comparison, I've excerpted a few quotes that related to Bev Harris's reports from the field.
The quotes are from this link:http://instructor.mstc.edu/instructor/mbessett/Criminal%20Investigation%20Theory
I cannot identify the original source or author from the actual PDF, but it appears to be M Bessett, Criminal Investigation Theory, Physical Evidence Handbook.
. . .In any criminal investigation, the validity of information derived from examination of the physical evidence depends entirely upon the care with which the evidence has been protected from contamination [CR Note: In the case of elections, the contamination is of election results, e.g. theft/substitution/ destruction/changing of votes on ballots or theft of ballot stock] In other words, if the evidence has been improperly collected, handled, or stored, its value may be destroyed and no amount of laboratory work [CR note: or election recounting] will be of assistance. Therefore, it is important that items of evidence be collected, handled, and stored in a way that will ensure their integrity. In doing so, the likelihood is increased that useful information can be extracted by examination and that the item will be considered admissible in court proceedings. It is important to properly collect, seal, and identify collected items for two reasons. First, you must be able to prove that the item introduced in court is the same item that was collected at the scene [CR note: or, in this case, whether the ballots being counted are the ones originally voted]. Second, you must ensure that the item is not altered or contaminated between the time it is collected and the time it is examined forensically or entered as evidence. These objectives are best achieved by proper packaging and sealing of evidence.
. . . On packaging materials: Packaging materials should protect the item from contamination, tampering, or alteration. To help select an appropriate packaging method,
ask two questions:
1. What information is sought from analysis?
2. What could cause the item itself or the sample sought to deteriorate?
With respect to the first question, ask yourself, “Why am I collecting this item? What piece of information might it give me that will
help prove this case?” Knowing what you’re seeking will help to identify unacceptable packaging methods.
Only new, unused materials should be used to package evidence. If the packaging has been previously used, trace evidence can be imparted to the item, negating the value of some examinations. [CR note: in this case, consider nonstandard box types, presence of multiple labels, old tape on the box that may render seal peelable (slick surface), and old box damage as contamination of evidence that no breaking of seals or opening of boxes has occurred from date and time of sealing] Common packaging materials include: paper, cardboard, plastic, metal cans, and glass. [CR Note: Author states that plastic is a surface to which some tamper evident tapes will not adhere. I have to ask if the metal boxes used were tested to ensure that the seals would adhere without undetectable removal. Both the material of the container and the compatibility of the selected tape -- seal and packaging tape -- are relevant and should be tested before using.]
D. Tamper-proof tapes. Tamper-proof tapes are destroyed by efforts to remove them. Traditionally, the security feature was created by a combination of a tenacious adhesive and a low tensile strength backing. Some new tapes change color or have words develop when disturbed. The tapes come both in long rolls and in short, individual strips. These tapes are advertised as providing tamper-proof seals on all surfaces. In reality, some brands of tape can be removed from plastic bags without evidence of tampering. [CR note: Important - take a cardboard box with "old" plastic tape over it, tape that seal over the plastic tape, and that seal even if tamper evident MAY peel right off.] Always check for permanence on an identical test object before using a particular tape. If the brand of tape or packaging is changed, retest. [CR comment: it is impossible to carry out this step when using NONidentical test objects -- boxes -- as a FEATURE of the election procedures]
[CR note: this is on the subject of taping boxes with e.g. filament tape]: always write your initials over the ends of the tape -- if it is removed, it will be nearly impossible to realign the initials.
One advantage of tamper-proof tapes is that they are designed to shred or tear when pulled or stressed. This advantage is a potential disadvantage, however, if a mechanically strong joint is required.
Unless somehow reinforced, the tape may spontaneously shred if stressed. When the tape joint may be strained, use another method to secure the joint (tape, staples, etc.) and then use tamper-proof tape across the joint. Some tamper-proof tapes will not adhere to very cold metal surfaces.
END OF QUOTE SERIESBob Fleischer
The "seals" did not appear to have any numbering, either preprinted or hand written.
My impression is that, the couple of times I hired moving companies to move the contents of my home, they did a far more thorough job of numbering, describing, and documenting the pieces than did the people who packed and moved the ballots in NH.
Most if not all of the boxes I saw (on that one day, the first day of the re-count) had a separate label on them with an inventory control number and bar code. Michael DiSalvo
Where are we as far as CRIMINAL charges go in NH? I can think of at least 3 circumstances deserving of felonies for various officials involved. Are we going to play softball with these guys, giving them 1000s of dollars in a mock recount that doesn't make a difference or are we going to put these degenerates IN PRISON? christine c reid
John Howard - have you seen any electronic documents describing this Canadian protocol? I have gone through some electronic info from Canada that's quite interesting, but haven't yet found this protocol. I did find highly detailed descriptions of putting the cast, spoiled, and uncast ballots etc. in separate sealed envelopes before sealing all into the ballot box.
New Hampshire's Voting Procedures Manual is here:http://www.sos.nh.gov/FINAL%20EPM%208-30-2006.pdf
NH election procedures protocol for state elections (not federal primaries) specifies putting votes into a container supplied by the NH SOS (quote to follow) - can anyone from NH clarify/enlighten on this point? Also, I would note that the manual is admirably detailed and in many ways an example. I am unable to find any reference to chain of custody as regards centralized recount procedures. Perhaps others can point it out.
SEALING AND CERTIFYING BALLOTS. Ballots must be sealed immediately after the votes at a state election have been tabulated, the results have been announced, and the return prepared. The moderator or his or her designee, in the presence of the selectmen or their designee, shall place the:
• Cast ballots;
• Canceled ballots;
• Uncast ballots;
• Ballots from any additional polling places; and
• Successfully challenged absentee ballots
in containers supplied by the Secretary of State.
RSA 659:97. The container shall be sealed in public by the moderator with the sealer provided by the Secretary of State. RSA 659:97. Bev Harris
We have a name for the green SUV -- which is actually a green jeep -- that rendevouzed with Butch and Hoppy on Thursday. It was brief - green jeep sitting by road waiting for them, one of them hops out and goes across the road to jeep, says something to driver of green jeep,
jeep turns north and Hoppy/Butch turn south for more pickups.
Again, do not post personal or speculative information here, but your emails have been quite helpful.
The jeep belongs to Carl E. Rowell Jr. of Lyndeborough. He does not appear to be a public official.
No personal information allowed to be posted here, remember, nor names of family members. We have name of wife. Catherine Ansbro
Thanks Bev for all this great work.
Those photos speak volumes. The NH "box" system is a disaster. The "chain of custody" is a joke. I won't bother commenting on the van and SUV drivers. The whole thing reeks.
NH staff, volunteers and voters should be hopping mad that a few weak links can so effectively and completely undermine their sincere efforts to run clean elections. Catherine Ansbro
They are followed by a single state trooper.
Where was the state trooper when you were following the white van and witnessed the rendezvous with the green jeep? Steve Goettler
What is it going to profit anyone if all of this evidence is just going to be ignored? Will any of these findings come to bear on the recount?
It seems that the SOS and the media are saying that nothing will be found to change the initial count, so who is going to care? How does anything that is found that is to be questionable going to matter? Bev Harris
Directly behind the white van. Parked behind them for the rendezvous. Catherine Ansbro
Any idea who the lone state trooper was? Bev Harris
We'll find out. And it would be fascinating if he was the same guy that followed Dubois and Falzone in 2004 with the Nader recount.
to Steve: I dunno. What's your suggestion? Why don't you get into the Citizens Tool Kit and pick a module and get busy. Let us know what you are doing to pull some weight on this.
Here's the Citizen's Tool Kit: http://www.blackboxvoting.org/toolkit.html
Pick something, take one action, let us know how it goes. Don't wait for others or sit criticizing on the sidelines. Trust your own common sense and get this information to where you think it will do the most good. Bill Bowen
It looks like Carl owns his own business in Lyndeborough, although what exactly the company does isn't listed:
This is public information.http://www.ecspace.us/Business/%40New+Jersey/Rowell.Carl.Jr.%26.Gail/ODExODc3NQ Timothy A. Balcer
That's odd... Google maps puts that address in the middle of nowhere...http://maps.google.com/maps?q=1711+Center+Rd,+Lyndeborough,+NH+03082,+USA&ie=UTF
8&ll=42.885838,-71.790998&spn=0.003388,0.006888&t=h&z=17&om=0 John Howard
During training for each Federal election, each poll worker is issued a manual specific to their particular role. Unfortunately, none of those manuals appear to be available online, however the combined manual for Deputy Returning Officers and Poll Clerks have detailed, illustrated instructions showing what numbered seals to place where. There is also a Seal Control Sheet on which the numbered seals are listed and their use recorded.
Although not from the actual DRO manual, there is an excellent example of how boxes are sealed at the following link:
Placement of Seals on Elections Canada Ballot Box
This link is from an educational series that Elections Canada provides, called Election off the Shelf which is designed to facilitate University and College Elections. While not identical in every regard to the conduct of a real Federal Election, it IS VERY close, and serves as a good example of how to establish appropriate controls and chain of custody. It also includes a great assortment of sample forms.
Election off the Shelf
You may find it interesting reading.
HG;) Bill Bowen
I have found a similar, alternate business address for Mr. Rowell, but it looks like it may be the same as his home address. So I'm not going to post that here.
The odd part about the other two listings I found online under the business name list under business category: "None". And under business type, also: "None". Jeremy Trudell
Bev, I must say this is the stuff of legend. Fantastic, amazing work! I can't compliment you enough, you make the world a better place!
I'm happy to report in Colorado, for now, it appears we're going to all hand counted paper ballots. We have such a great team of people who attacked the issue from so many angles and I personally went along to serve the NCEL to our SOS, the Gov, and the AG. Their employees hated our cameras, it was hysterical and reminded me of bugs scurrying when you lift up a rock.
Thank you so much Bev for all that you do. If you're ever in Denver, look me up, drinks are on me! Allegra Dengler
I was an observer on Friday. I was surprised that old cardboard boxes were used- used Staples boxes, Quill boxes, boxes apparently reused for more than one election. I'm all for recycling, but this is a careless way to carry valuable paper. Would they transport and store boxes of $100 bills this way? The "seals" on the top were really labels, and much less securely attached than the label on a FedEx box I just got. Because the boxes were reused, there was a lot of tape of different kinds on the box. Forget about the top of the box with the "seal." Anyone could just flip the box over and cut open the bottom, then reseal and no-one would notice. I did not examine the bottoms of the boxes, since I only thought of that after I left. We were not allowed to touch the boxes or the ballots. I have pictures also. Susan Lynn Patton
To get an understanding of the scope of the machinery that might be interested in tampering with an election, you, and everyone, might want to read the following article:http://www.newmediajournal.us/guest/k_miller/07212007.htm
be sure and click on the last link, which will take you to "The Parks Murder, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Free Republic.com"
Allegra--I too thought of what you mentioned...what good is a seal on the top when the box can be entered easily from the bottom.
I wonder why officials are so adamant that, "Everything's fine," when even the most casual observer can see the possibilities for tampering "in your face"!} Bev Harris
Welcome to Black Box Voting!
We are a nonpartisan site, and we usually segregate candidate mentions into the "talk politics" forum and even there, we can't permit anything that can be considered campaigning. Your post contains information that is procedure-based as well, so I couldn't easily move it to that section. It will help if you avoid using candidates names except in the talk politics section, and even there, no pro or con. I unfortunately had to edit out your candidate-based comments. Sorry, and glad you are here.
The link above also leads to investigative reporting discussing someone who is now a candidate. Black Box Voting has not vetted out that material and it does not necessarily represent the views of this site.
Allegra - very valuable report! Thank you for this. If you get a chance, email your photos or post them here. I have not photographed the bottom of the boxes and you make an important point.
Also - I have been thinking about the unsealed banker boxes they have in the vault. What's up with that? Why would you keep ballots in the vault and also other stuff in unsealed boxes?
Note that after we got this information they stopped letting citizens see anything in the vault or behind the warehouse doors.