Tuesday, January 01, 2008

DOS Decertification Proves Norco Elections Task Force Had it Right

On Monday, I told you that the state DOS has finally decertified Advanced Voting Solutions (AVS), Northampton County's voting machine supplier. That's no surprise to anyone who followed last year's citizens' advisory panel, which has long had questions for AVS.

Vilified as a partisan witch hunt, this task force actually learned last February that we had gone through an election using machines that were never certified. Unfortunately, few were in a mood to listen. Norco council dems like Charles Dertinger blasted the work of this nonpartisan group as a "witch hunt."

Looks like there was a witch after all. Not everything is politics. Here's a detailed index of links to the work done by Northampton County's election task force, led by Democrat Russ Shade.

January 23 Minutes
- LVR report: Stoffa's Citizen Committee Deals With NorCo Election Mess

January 31 Minutes
- LVR report: Norco Citizens Elections Committee Follows That Paper Trail
- Did Advanced Voting Solutions Pull a Fast One in Pa.?
- BlackBox Voting Backs Up Charge That Advanced Voting Pulled Fast One in Pa.

February 7 Minutes
- LVR Report: Citizens' Election Panel Questions Voting Machine Certification

February 13 Minutes
- LVR Report: Norco Elections Committee Wants Answers From AVS
- Voting Activist Asks That Norco Voting Machines Be Tested

February 21 Minutes
- LVR report: Norco Voter Registrar DePaul Discusses Her Kingdom

February 28 Minutes
- LVR report #1: In Northampton County, Bloggin' is Dangerous to Your Health!
- LVR report #2: Norco Registrar DePaul to Critics: "Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire!"
- February 28 Letter to State Elections Commissioner
- State Elections Official Finally Speaks, But Not to Norco Citizens' Elections Panel
- Norco Registrar DePaul Tries to Soak County for $2470 Private Lawyer Bill
- Northampton Voting Registrar's Lawyer Also Represented Local Dems
- Norco Voter Registrar Uses Lawyer Recommended by Local Dem Chair
- State Never Certified NoCo Voting Machines: Too Busy Plowing Snow?
- An Epistle From Joseph of Bethlehem: Dem Boss Long Denies Elections Problems

Survey Results Summary

April 4 Minutes
- LVR report: Norco Elections Task Force Reviews Positive Survey in Final Public Meeting
- Commonwealth Court Permits Suit Challenging Voting Machine Certifications

Norco Citizens' Advisory Panel: Election Report
- Norco Elections Commission Chair: Report "Pure Partisan Politics"
- Norco's Election Chair, Wally G, Doing Partisan Radio Show ... Again!


WhetherVain said...

Your quote of the day today, hmmm, sounds like something I've already suggested to someone we both know.

Happy New Year, Bernie.

(Maybe you'll run this year! I know, "don't hold my breath" ;-)

Anonymous said...

It is clear to me that part of the intent of this commission was to create public support for ousting DePaul, which of course it failed to do.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 6:50,

It may be "clear to you," but it sure as hell isn't clear to me. Stoffa's mandate to the citizens' advisory panel was clear - "how can we do better?" It was never intended to hurt anyone.

If Stoffa wanted to replace HRH DePaul, she certainly gave him enough reason during those hearings. She even tried to stick the county w/ as lawyer bill from a private mouthpiece recommended by the Dem party boss.

But that's not Stoffa's style. He was more concerned with the quality of our elections than in playing games.

Anonymous said...

Stoffa does not like DePaul. Ironically, it is over the unveiling of these very machines
(the decertified AVS machines) that he was proud of that caused their estrangement. Specifically, when the new machines came in Stoffa wanted to have a press conference with the "old" machines as a backdrop to introduce the AVS machines. DePaul balked citing the need to actually prepare for the Election. Stoffa was very much irked.

Anonymous said...

Funny we have not heard from Depaul since then... if Saint John was interested in quality elections why has he put a gag order on the Elections Registrar? why do we only hear from his Cheif of Staff John?
Could it be he is trying to control what the public knows?
Check it out she has not commented on election business since then.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 9:17,

I don't care much for HRH DePaul, either, and it has nothing to do with press conferences. I doubt seriously whether Stoffa was irked by DePaul's willingness or unwillingness to participate in a press conference. Making a statement like that demonstrates pretty clearly that you don't know or understand Stoffa.

Let us not forget that it was Stoffa's decision to keep those "old" machines that saved the county $350k in lease fees in the last election. And let us not forget that Stoffa played no part in the committee that recommended AVS. When this came up before council, he said nothing. Strange behavior from someone you claim is so proud.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 9:29,

As you must know, the voter registrar falls under the Director of Administration, John Conklin. Unfortunately, that position was vacant for most of Stoffa's first year, and DePaul had little guidance and a lot of very real problems, which I won't try to minimize.

Conklin participated heavily in the elections advisory panel, and has done his best to really help that office. The last two elections have been pretty much flawless, and that is to the credit of them all.

Just as you don't hear much from the LC Voting Registrar, you should not be hearing much from DePaul, either. She does not set policy.

Anonymous said...

Yo Bern - you must not have picked the memo up off of the floor - or refuse to print negative truth on the butt your kissing. Sorry but Stoffa wanted to ditch the levers from the start - printed proof in a memo bud. Oh and God you people love to rehash old crap over and over and over again. NATION WIDE PROBLEM PEOPLE. Get over yourselves and instead of jabbering here write the FEDS!!! Otherwise you are pathetic and just take up space.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Yo Bern - you must not have picked the memo up off of the floor - or refuse to print negative truth on the butt your kissing. Sorry but Stoffa wanted to ditch the levers from the start - printed proof in a memo bud.

Gee, and where is this memo?? Oh, you can't produce it? Then you'll excuse me for telling you it's proof of nothing.

If that's what Stoffa wanted to do, why didn't he do it? Last time I checked, he's the county exec. If he wanted to scrap those machines, that would have happened. He wouldn't even need a memo. Obviously, he was not so sure as you're trying (unsuccessfully) to imply.

I happen to know for a fact that Stoffa had decided to hold on to the lever machines. He reached that decision in June, when it was time to make a decision. His intention was to hold onto them for a few election cycles until he was sure that AVS was working out and until litigation over those machines had been resolved. It would be foolhardy to unload them when litigation is pending and the task force had problems with them. Stoffa got good advice, probably from people in the elections office and within his own admin. He obviously listened to that advice.

Lackawanna and Wayne lacked Norco's foresight. They paid for that - literally.

Anonymous said...

Actually Reibman made it clear the County would hold on to the machines and urged Stoffa to do the same. Thank God he listened to Reibman. It seems we need Radio free Northampton County.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Yeah, I can see that. We didn't even get the machines until nearly 6 months after Reibman left. Give me a break.

And where's this memo you're bragging about? I suspect your unhealthy hatred has caused you to start telling lies.

The election's over now for two years. Get over it. Take a pill.

Anonymous said...

anon 6:50 ---

I was on the committtee. it was NEVER about ousting DePaul.

Anonymous said...

anon 9:17

are you trying for a Pulitzer Prize in FICTION?

What a bunch of hogwash!!

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:45 PM,

Wrong. the county was FORCED by HAVA to adopt the new machines. Stoffa had no choice but to follow HAVA or risk legal consequences for the county.

Anonymous said...

I thought Walt Garvin was Chair of the Election Board, not Conklin, when Garvin made the decision to keep the machines. If Conklin is interefering with the Election Board, he violates State Law as it should be non-parisan as you have espoused so many times before Bernie, or are you recanting that line, and stating it is OK for the administration to meddle in Election Board matters?

Anonymous said...

Unconsolidated Pennsylvania Statutes
ELECTIONS (Title 25).

§ 2642. Powers and duties of county boards.
The county boards of elections, within their respective counties, shall exercise, in the manner provided by this act, all powers granted to them by this act, and shall perform all the duties imposed upon them by this act, which shall include the following:

(a) To investigate and report to the court of quarter sessions their recommendations on all petitions presented to the court by electors for the division, redivision, alteration, change or consolidation of election districts, and to present to the court petitions for the division, redivision, alteration, change or consolidation of election districts in proper cases.

(b) To select and equip polling places.

(c) To purchase, preserve, store and maintain primary and election equipment of all kinds, including voting booths, ballot boxes and voting machines, and to procure ballots and all other supplies for elections.

(d) To appoint their own employes, voting machine custodians, and machine inspectors.

(e) To issue certificates of appointment to watchers at primaries and elections.

(f) To make and issue such rules, regulations and instructions, not inconsistent with law, as they may deem necessary for the guidance of voting machine custodians, elections officers and electors.

(g) To instruct election officers in their duties, calling them together in meeting whenever deemed advisable, and to inspect systematically and thoroughly the conduct of primaries and elections in the several election districts of the county to the end that primaries and elections may be honestly, efficiently, and uniformly conducted.

(h) To prepare and publish, in the manner provided by this act, all notices and advertisements in connection with the conduct of primaries and elections, which may be required by law.

(i) To investigate election frauds, irregularities and violations of this act, and to report all suspicious circumstances to the district attorney.

(j) To receive and determine, as hereinafter provided, the sufficiency of nomination petitions, certificates and papers of candidates for county, city, borough, township, ward, school district, poor district, election offices, and local party offices required by law or by party rules to be filed with the board.

(k) To receive from district election officers the returns of all primaries and elections, to canvass and compute the same, and to certify, no later than the third Monday following the primary or election, the results thereof to the Secretary of the Commonwealth, as may be provided by law, and to such other authorities as may be provided by law. The certification shall include the number of votes received in each election district by each candidate for the General Assembly.

(l) To publicly announce by posting at its office the results of primaries and elections for county, city, borough, township, ward, school district, poor district, election offices, and party offices, if any, and to issue certificates of election to the successful candidates for said offices.

(m) To prepare and submit, within twenty days after the last day to register to vote in each primary, municipal and general election, a report to the Secretary of the Commonwealth in the form prescribed by him, which shall contain a statement of the total number of electors registered in each election district, together with a breakdown of registration by each political party or other designation. Copies of said statement shall be furnished, upon request, to the county chairman of each political party and political body. The Secretary of the Commonwealth shall forthwith submit such information to the Legislative Data Processing Center and shall publicly report the total number of registered electors for each political party or other organization in each county not later than five days prior to the primary, municipal or general election.

(n) To annually prepare and submit to the county commissioners or other appropriating authorities of the county an estimate of the cost of primaries and elections and of the expenses of the board for the ensuing fiscal year.

(o) To perform such other duties as may be prescribed by law.

Anonymous said...

Based on the last post anon 2:22, looks like Bernie is full of shit again. Stoffa is illegally tampering with the election process if he is trying to control the Election Board and their decisions.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 2:27, 2:22 & 12:21,

Let's get a few things straight.

First, Northampton County has no board of elections. Northampton County is a home rule county, and under the Home Rule Charter, it has designated an elections commission
, not a board. Garvin chaired the NC elections commission because the county has no board.

Second, under the terms of the Home Rule Charter, the function of the elections commission is purely administrative - it is there to "administer the system of elections and the registration of voters under applicable law."

Third, the courts
have traditionally held that even the powers of a county board of elections are purely ministerial - they allow for no exercise of discretion. In other words, they don't decide policy. They don't decide what voting machines the county may or may not use. They have nothing to do with policy questions, which are more appropriately within the realm of the county exec and council. No board or registrar decides to use the lever machines. Our registrar should not be sending emails that advocate ignoring HAVA. That is a policy question.

Fourth, the recent ruling by the Supreme Court in the Philly campaign finance limits case makes it very clear that home rule governments now have considerable latitude in running elections as they see fit. They are not pre-empted by the antiquated and toothless Elections Code, on which you rely.

It is entirely appropriate, and in fact, desirable, that policy questions like these be left with the county exec and council as opposed to an unelected commission.

And as I've said before, the Home rule Charter should be amended to provide for a truly nonpartisan elections commission as opposed to the current "winner takes all" system.

Quite clearly, no one should interfere with the purely ministerial functions of the elections commission, and so far as I know, that has not occurred.

Anonymous said...

Hey Annon 10:10

Which Stoffa contributor were you?

This is not a blog to ever question the decisions of Stoffa. I hope he lists this as an in kind campaign contribution.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I'm not going to let someone get away with posting outright lies about Stoffa, and that's what someone tried. You must be part of the Severson school of sleaze politics, where it's ok to fabricate nonexistent memos and make ridiculous claims about Conklin "interfering" with the elections commission.

The only way you can beat Stoffa is by being better. You're not.

Anonymous said...

Didn't Stoffa try and sell the lever machines ? Wasn't that reported in the papers ?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Didn't Stoffa try and sell the lever machines ? Wasn't that reported in the papers ?

No. And no. Stoffa saved the county $350k by holding onto those lever machines. Had he wanted to sell them, it could have been done quite easily.

Anonymous said...

ELECTIONS (Title 25).
Anon 2:22, is Bernie saying that these are not the rules for our election commission, or is he saying that Conklin & Stoffa are above the law and can mandate whatever they feel at the time? Case in point, at Forks Twsp. to move into a garage without approval by the state or the commission. This was to be reported 20 days prior to the election, which didn't occur. Broke the law, they did. I guess we don't have to abide by the state laws for elections because we have a monarch in charge, King Stoffa.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Broke the law, they did.

Who the hell are you, Yoda?

If you think Conklin or Stoffa are hardened criminals, better report them at once!

Anonymous said...

I love the Yoda crack. That was pretty funny. I must say the one person who looks like Yoda is L.Jack Bradt, Stoffa supporter and confidant.