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Alaska: 2004 Electronic Election Data Was Changed in 2006 PDF  | Print |  Email
By Kay Brown, Alaska Democratic Party   
October 05, 2006

Division of Elections Asked to Explain Changes

The Alaska Democratic Party today asked the Division of Elections to explain why changes were made in July of 2006 to the electronic database that contains the results of the 2004 General Election.
 
A review of the audit trail of the GEMS database for the 2004 elections shows that modifications were made to the database on July 12 and July 13, 2006.

 

The Democratic Party recently obtained the electronic GEMS file by suing the Division of Elections in State Superior Court. The Division of Elections had refused for more than nine months to release the public records, but did so late last month just before a hearing was scheduled to begin in the case.
 
"We do not understand why 2004 election results would be manually modified in 2006 after the complaint was filed asking that you produce the database," Jake Metcalfe, chair of the Alaska Democratic Party, said in a letter to Division of Elections Director Whitney Brewster. "Data from the 2004 election may have been altered," Metcalfe said.
 
One of the modifications made in 2006 appears to alter data for House District 5. In that district's race for the State House, Democrat Tim June lost by 59 votes to Republican Bill Thomas. [see audit log of GEMS database]
 
The Democratic Party also questioned the 293 manual entries that were made to the electronic file between 11/2/04 and 12/2/04. [see attached audit log of GEMS showing examples]. According to the same audit log, the Primary Election for 2004 had 17 manual entries.


"Two hundred and ninety-three is an incredibly high number of manual entries," said Jim March, a consultant and member of the Board of Directors of Black Box Voting who examined the GEMS database.

 

"Manual entries usually happen when a ballot is too crumpled to scan or is marked in blood, crayon or in an unusual manner. A small number of manual entries is normal. In an election about your size, approximately 20 or so manual entries would be common. Having 293 manual entries for the General Election is completely off the charts, while the 17 manual entries that were made for the Primary is within the normal range. The high number of manual entries is troubling since several elections were decided by less than 100 votes," March said.
 
One of the problems revealed by examining the GEMS database is that every individual who modified the file had the same "admin" User ID, March said.

 

Failing to assign each individual who has access to the database a unique User ID negates an important safeguard, he said.

 

"We now know the Alaska Division of Elections isn't tracking which human being performs which action on the central database of votes, including a startlingly high number of manual entries of vote data.  If a person's actions in the election aren't tracked, personal accountability fails.  This is a classic flaw in the Diebold product," March said.
 
The Democratic Party filed new public records requests asking for a copy of the GEMS database as it existed before the changes made in July, 2006, and for the name and affiliation of each person who did any manual modification to the 2004 General Election GEMS database at any time, what data that person entered manually, and why those changes were made or those data were entered manually.
 
March said he has not yet been able to determine why the votes from the 2004 election in the district-by-district reports do not match the statewide summary. "First we need to get the correct version of the database. The one that the Division of Elections gave the Democratic Party appears to have been altered after the fact," he said.
 
According to the Division of Elections' vote reports that were produced by the state's Diebold computer system and are posted on the Division's official web site, a far larger number of votes were cast than the official totals reported in the statewide summary. In the case of President George Bush’s votes, the district-by-district totals add up to 292,267, but his official total was only 190,889, a difference of 101,378 votes. In the U.S. Senate race, Lisa Murkowski received 226,992 votes in the district-by-district totals, but her official total was only 149,446, a difference of 77,546 votes.
 
In 20 of the 40 State House Districts, more ballots were cast than there are registered voters in the district, according to information on the state's web site. In 16 election districts, the voter turnout percentage shown is over 200%.

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