2020 General Election Minority Report

January 10, 2021

The Boulder County Republicans sought to achieve bipartisan approval of the certification for the 2020 General Election. Republican canvass members approved the certification of the November 2019 and March 2020 elections. We had concerns through several elections and sought to have an on-going dialogue to resolve those issues with the Clerk and Recorder.
We have appreciated the streamlined procedures in Voter Centers. Processes in the public view at the Vote Centers demonstrated bipartisan citizen election judge teams working together to solve problems in a non-adversarial manner. Transparency was encouraged and this generally resulted in a culture of bipartisan respectful teamwork between citizen election leads and judges. Except as noted below, this led to an improved experience for voters.

Outstanding Concerns

Selective criminalization of administrative issues:

● Boulder County Clerk and Recorder referred four election judges to the District Attorney for the prosecution of signature rejection report abnormalities; all self-corrected a week prior to any action, rather than remedying the matter as a training issue.
● No apparent referral to the District Attorney when official election documents of signature verification judge decisions were lost, information crossed out on ballot envelopes, destroyed records, and missing documents from secured storage through multiple elections.

Security reductions and risks:

  • Electronic
    • “Glitches” with Vote By Mail (VBM) software were prevalent throughout this election and previous.
      • This is a component of Dominion voting systems.
      • No explanation has been given for the anomalies repeatedly observed by judges and county IT staff.
    • Dominion and Bell Howell software upgrade mid-election with no recertification.
    • Continued to collect judge passwords after the Colorado Secretary of State demanded this practice stopped in the Primary election.
    • Continued to train judges to use SCORE passwords for county systems counter to an agreement with the Colorado Secretary of State.
    • Logic and Accuracy Testing members were prohibited from direct auditing of scanning and tabulation machines per Colorado statute.
  • Physical
    • June Primary Election records were destroyed. These would have verified signature verification process issues uncovered including judge decisions overturned by staff.
    • Key accounting forms went missing despite being in secure storage. No explanation.
    • UOCAVA ballot processing excluded from security camera coverage.
    • Propping open secure doors and leaving unattended.
    • Election watchers are prohibited from the scan room and tabulation room.
  • Chain of custody of ballots
    • Single party election judges conducting Ballot-to-Go in isolation.
      • Making decisions about voters without the oversight of site leads or within the ability of other judges or watchers to hear interaction.
      • Single party transport of ballots to voters.
      • Engaging in inappropriate political conversations alone with voters in parking lots when delivering ballots.
    • In-person ballots left in unsealed boxes for up to multiple days.
    • Single party staff transporting ballots between various locations including:
      • Transport between drop off box and Ballot Processing Center
      • Transport unsealed open trays through multiple locations, floors, offices of Ballot Processing Center, and Clerk and Recorder’s office.
      • Transport of UOCAVA ballots from print to processing.
    • Ballots stored in duct-taped cardboard boxes instead of secure boxes with sufficient election seals.
    • Broken and missing seals on ballot boxes without explanation.
  • UOCAVA Processing, also known as military and overseas ballots
    • One long term temporary worker downloading and adjudicating if and when voted ballots are printed for further processing.
    • No ballot logs or standardized written procedures in use for the first 4 weeks of processing
    • Ballot logs provided through CORA request were changed from the original format and provided in an unreadable pdf.
    • Ballots are processed with zero security cameras, zero watchers in the room, and single staff members of one party conducting critical procedures.
    • Blank affidavits and signatures on blank pages accepted.
  • Signature Verification
    • CORA audit shows that one in ten election judge decisions did not promptly trigger a cure letter being sent.
    • Failed signature verification reforms:
      • In July 2020, the County Clerk and Recorder admitted prior elections had a “sloppy” paper trail. She promised to the Canvass Board in September a number of reforms including a robust near-error proof paper trail. On October 13, two days prior to the start of the signature verification work, she eliminated all the paper trails of rejected signatures and implemented the least traceable as well as least transparent mail ballot process in recent Boulder County elections history.
      • Promised a means for judges to track their decisions to a cure letter, denied that access.
      • Promised improved training, but signature verification judges felt they lacked sufficient training.
      • Provided pen, paper, and judge manuals with notes sections to election judges. Instructed note-taking. A few days later without advance notice, they barred note-taking with uneven implementation. When it was pointed out Democrat judges could take notes but not Republicans, use of the judge manuals while performing tasks was also eliminated. Took and retained control over the personal property of judges.
      • Promised staff would not Instruct judges on what decision to make on signatures, then staff instructed judges what decision to make on signatures.
      • Staff “corrected” judge mistakes without re-training or involvement of judges.
      • VBM (Vote By Mail) software is responsible for matching images of signatures with the voter registration signature record. VBM records judge decisions on acceptance or rejection. However, VBM failed to hold judge decisions accurately.
    • VBM software also failed in March. A manual process without VBM was implemented in June. VBM was again used in November and demonstrated chronic errors. When election judge rejection rate anomalies were found, judges were wrongfully blamed for sabotage.
    • Judges and staff watched VBM decisions change in front of them without judges taking action. No explanation or remedy was given.
    • Staff opened ballot envelopes prior to signature verification in violation of state regulations.
    • Staff enacted inappropriate application of state signature regulations to allow obscene pictures in place of signatures.
  • Culture of intimidation/bullying of voters and citizen election officials
    • Voter Experiences
      • Lack of holding appropriate boundaries and education for New Era activists. New Era activists were touching voters, not following social distancing protocol, grouping up around voters, and violating electioneering regulations by advising how to vote within 100ft of a Vote Center. Voters expressed being uncomfortable, intimidated, and “coerced” to judges. Judges felt unequipped to remedy these voter concerns. CU election judges were specifically educated on Election Day that New Era was “acting as sort of a PR arm for Boulder County Elections.” When election judges tried to take action to increase voter access and comfort while voting, they were ignored and invalidated.
      • Election judges were instructed, when given the name of any voter, to give out the voter’s address to anyone in the public.
      • Leads, staff, and judges grouping up around judges and voters who need to correct a data entry issue, overwhelming the judge and voter.
      • Judges report fear around contacting leads or staff with questions or concerns at Vote Centers thus reducing the ability to meet voter needs.
  • Signature Verification Judge Experiences
    • Signature verification judges are pressured to meet benchmarks of percentages for rejections that are less than the state average rather than focus on the accuracy of decisions.
    • Judges pressured to evaluate 900 signatures per hour.
    • Firing a significant number of election judges without retraining and discussion with the team decreased morale and increased anxiety of other judges.
    • Took away tools judges needed to do their job at the top of their abilities. “They treated us like children.”
    • When a voter challenge was filed to preserve the right of a voter to cast their vote themselves, a judge was demoted.
    • When judges could identify instances where the voter did not cast the ballot submitted under their name they were blocked from being able to file a challenge form and threatened with loss of jobs if they tried to protect against voter disenfranchisement.
  • Audit Board Member Experiences
    • Insulted for not approving seal numbers from blurry videos where numbers and seals could not be identified.
    • Audit Board member names were entered into electronic certifications without consent or knowledge.
    • Attempts to speak to staff regarding concerns about certifications were rebuked
    • Instructed to sign “impossible” auditor certifications.
    • When auditors /canvass requested to follow state rules on virtual audit, state rules allegedly changed again, and access blocked.
    • Constant uncertainty and unexplained changes regarding processes and procedures.
    • The expectation of auditors to take on costs of provision of personal equipment to conduct election tasks with less than one business day notice.
    • When requesting remedy for failed virtual RLA, met with hostility.
    • Discrepancies within the RLA sample from the first audit not resolved with board members going against state statute.
  • Canvass Board Experiences
    • Boulder County Clerk and Recorder disregarded the Colorado statute that allows for a replacement member on canvass.
    • No oath in place prior to carrying out duties for the Risk Limiting Audit (RLA).
    • Dismissal of the value of bipartisan canvass board observation, repeatedly reducing access for one party on canvass over the other.
    • Encouraged canvass to conduct other election activities simultaneously while also performing canvass duties. This eliminated the ability of canvass members to simultaneously act as auditors. Also created a conflict of interest for canvass board members to canvass their own work.
    • When requesting changes in process, to align with regulations and rules, due to observing discrepancies occurring live, met with hostility, refusal to listen to concerns.
    • Failed to provide adequate training.
    • Failed to ensure transparency by allowing access to observe election processes and review records.
  • Watcher Experiences
    • Allowing multiple female watchers to be stalked on county grounds even when they reported fears for physical safety.
    • Rules limiting watchers to one per party at Vote Centers were inconsistently applied.
    • Created a system of “first come first serve” reducing the number of watchers for a party based on the number in attendance for the other.
    • Chronically denied adequate access to election activity in violation of state statute, reducing transparency and increasing distrust.
    • Staff was rude and angry toward watchers when requesting access, sometimes delaying it in excess of an hour.
    • Watcher escorts engaged in electioneering.
  • COVID Mitigation
    • Unequally administered covid precautions, threatening to fire judges for removing masks to take a drink of water yet allowing staff to leave masks off inside for extended periods of time.
    • Failing to properly notify citizen election judges of sustained close contact with confirmed COVID-19 cases. Disregard for the county and state covid 19 mitigation policies destroyed the trust of judges. It created alarm that the county was willing to sacrifice their safety and health. Formal complaints with the County and Secretary of State have not led to an apology to those who were not properly notified.
    • Only county elections that did not allow citizens (either as judges, auditors, or watchers) to view pulling of ballots in person (or even by video) which lead to questions and distrust around why we are handicapped to a greater degree than the rest of the state including where covid outbreaks were higher.
    • Audit and canvass board members barred access to conduct official election activities while children and others not conducting election activities were provided unrestrained access and without covid precautions being followed.
  • Vote Centers
    • The hiring of election judges prior to legal statutory requirements being met of obtaining caucus lists from parties. (Applies to other areas as well.)
    • Claiming all Republican positions filled, but yet continuing to hire, filling Republican spots with unaffiliated judges, thus reducing bipartisanship.
    • Scheduling leads in cities far from where they reside.
    • Burnout of tenured leads by unbalanced schedules, not enough time for new leads to get experience.
    • Insufficient training for leads and judges including but not limited to:
      • Voter challenges
      • Acceptable ID
      • Expired IDs
      • How to respond to watcher challenges and questions
      • Grouping up around voters
      • Site management
    • Reduced citizen involvement in the conduct of the election.
      • Judges not comprehensively trained to work with the voter.
      • Some leads typed on judge computers with the judge logged in. They did not explain to the judge what they were doing under their login.
      • Instead of supporting, coaching, and training judges, many leads tended to take over for election judges on judge tasks.
    • Massive demoralization of election judges affected voter experiences and judge retention.
  • Other process issues
    • Revised official election documents and rules mid-election to block the ability to conduct official election tasks such as voter challenges.
    • Auditors prevented from performing the full range of responsibilities including:
      • The only county to conduct a failed virtual Risk-Limiting Audit process by attempting to conduct a hand count of votes of selected ballots by video conference video.
      • Did not seek approval of the audit board prior to implementing virtual audit per Secretary of State Rule 27.
      • Blocked from pulling ballots or observing the pulling of ballots.
      • Audit board members blocked from addressing and resolving discrepancies.
      • All Republican audit board members completed an addendum to certification indicating the inability to complete 50 percent of the certification required.
    • Canvass board was not made privy to the discrepancies from the first Risk-Limiting Audit nor involved in resolving the issues prior to performing the next audit.
    • Shutting off cameras for watchers or audit and canvass board members to observe resealing of boxes at the end of the day.
    • Citizen LAT board members are not able to complete their duties as aligned in statute due to interference from election staff.
  • Records request process
    • Streamlined in June, now more complex, with increased delays, hiccup prone.
    • Documents changed from the original form.
    • An unreadable document provided in response to the Canvass Board CORA request.

Conclusion

Due to the very risky practices being executed in our county elections, it is of utmost importance that changes be implemented immediately. The citizens of our community require that integrity be restored throughout the processes and systems of our elections including:

  • Enhanced chain of custody for the protection of each in-person, mail, or UOCAVA ballot
  • Bi-partisan judge teams required for all ballot processing.
  • Secure record management.
  • Elimination of judge password collection.
  • Colorado statute adherence.
  • No tolerance for bullying and intimidation.

Election security is of high concern throughout our country in the 2020 General Election. The Dominion voting system has been used by Boulder County Elections since 2017. Election judges, election watchers, and county staff were eyewitnesses to multiple abnormal “glitches” occurring during the General Election and in previous elections also. Due to concerns for Dominion and the electronic voting systems in place, it is imperative to increase citizen trust by:

  • Access to scanning and tabulation machines by citizen audit members.
  • Access to all areas of the election at all times by election watchers.
  • Access to election documentation for canvass members in a timely manner and at no cost.
  • Additional audits for signature verification processes including but not limited to discrepant signature logs, UOCAVA logs, quality check logs.

Boulder County Republican Committee seeks an equal partnership with the Boulder County Clerk and Recorder and the Elections Division. Colorado statute requires the immersion of persons from both major parties in local elections with equal representation. Over the previous decade of elections, the inclusion of Republicans in election processes has deteriorated. This is due to several factors. The number of registered Republicans in the county has dropped significantly leading to a smaller recruitment pool. A consequential responsibility of the party chairman is to have an extensive and viable hiring cache. Boulder County Republicans resolve to strengthen its pool of qualified election judges/workers in order to fill each Republican hired position available. Additionally, Republican election judges/workers have increasingly been subjected to intimidation, ridicule, and bullying directly by election staff leading to attrition of returning judges/workers. It is our desire to partner with the County Clerk and election staff to create a non-adversarial working environment that is inclusive and respectful to all citizen election workers regardless of political party association.

Boulder County Elections has been known as the gold standard of the mail ballot system but we cannot certify our elections unless effective transparent audits and citizen oversight of election processes are implemented to a level worthy of national leadership. We recommend adopting an attitude similar to other Colorado counties whereas the citizens conduct the election with staff support as our community would expect. Just as important, embody bipartisan election judge teams to conduct all ballot processing along with access to citizen watchers. Lastly, align election procedures to comply with Colorado statutes including but not limited to the Logic and Accuracy Test (LAT), Risk-Limiting Audit (RLA), and Canvass.

With Sincerest Regards,

Boulder County Republican Committee
Theresa Watson, Chairman
David Murray, Canvass Board Member
Emily Brake, Audit Board Member

Bocogop.org
303-443-6606