SAVE R VOTE To Join In Audit Of Riverside County, Ca. Registrar of Voters
In a strong step toward transparent and verifiable elections in Riverside County, California, Tom Courbat and election integrity group SAVE R VOTE will join with Grover Trask, a retired Riverside County district attorney and partner at the law firm Best Best & Krieger, in an audit of the office of the Riverside County Registrar of Voters.
The Riverside County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 to order the audit. The report will be due on March 1, 2009, but Mr. Trask and Mr. Courbat say they will move quickly to identify any immediate problems before the November election. Said Mr. Trask, "We plan to have boots on the ground, we're going to go in, we're going look at the election department, we're going to work with SAVE R VOTE, with their observations and input."
There was some dissent with the choice of Mr. Trask for the audit. Art Cassel, also an election integrity activist, objected to the appointment of Trask, saying, "BB&K [the law firm where Mr. Trask is employed] does a million dollars in business a year with the county. Grover Trask is a long-time apologist for the county. He's a charming man, and he was able to convince SAVE R VOTE. But the very arguments he used are the very reasons I condemn this."
Tom Courbat, in an exclusive interview with Velvet Revolution's Election Protection Strike Force, said, "I greatly respect Art Cassel. He has been around the block many times, and his concerns are warranted. His issuing the warning puts the Board of Supervisors and Trask on notice that they will be very closely watched and that many of the local activists don't trust him [Mr. Trask]. I think it is great that he [Mr. Cassel] testified as he did."
Courbat said that the audit would include "a team of forensic outside auditors -- and not employees of BB&K -- along with independent private investigators and former FBI agents."
He also said that skipping the usual county process of a formal Request for Proposals gives the investigators the opportunity "to audit the pre-election procedures and recommend changes to implement before November 4th, and then to audit the election live, in real time."
"I am confident we will be given full access to all phases [of the investigation], and we have that in writing signed by Trask and myself, and with the added assurance by the Board of Supervisors and the CEO that any concerns I bring to them will be addressed right away."
SAVE R VOTE has been pressing the Riverside County Board of Supervisors to order an audit of the Registrar of Voters office for some years. On September 16 of this year, SAVE R VOTE presented their report of errors [pdf, 3 Mb] committed by poll workers and the registrar's staff during the June 3 primary election in Riverside County.
SAVE R VOTE acquired over 10,000 election-related documents through freedom of information requests, and the election integrity watchdog group found:
- Precinct captains frequently failed to certify how many ballots had been received at each precinct;
- Precinct captains sometimes neglected the security requirements for the ballots and the electronic cartridges containing election results;
- Precinct locations (often churches or clubs) left electronic voting machines unattended and unsecured (including storing them in public bathrooms) for up to 10 days before the election;
- ROV staff sometimes scratched out and "corrected" official vote tally sheets several days after Election Night. Even after this improper "correction," these numbers sometimes contained inaccurate vote totals.
Regarding the Board of Supervisor's decision to approve the audit, Courbat said:
"This is a sweeping victory for SAVE R VOTE and the Election Integrity movement. It's an opportunity to learn much more about the election process and to help us help others. My thanks to all the members and supporters of SAVE R VOTE, many of whom have worked tirelessly for three and a half years. We are finally being heard.
"This has the potential to be a model for other counties in California and throughout the U.S. But then, we need to see how comprehensive and sweeping the audit will be. I suspect there will be a lot more revealed than SAVE R VOTE could have ever uncovered on our own."
It's citizens like Tom Courbat and everyone at SAVE R VOTE, along with many other individuals and organizations across America, that give us our best chance at making our elections clean, secure, transparent, and verifiable.
Please help them with their efforts. You can make out a check to "Citizens for Democracy, Temecula Valley," which is the parent organization of SAVE R VOTE. Citizens for Democracy, Temecula Valley is a 501(c)(4) organization.
Please write "For SAVE R VOTE" on your check.
Send your donation to:
Citizens for Democracy, Temecula Valley
c/o Maxine Ewig
32204 Calle Resaca Dr.
Temecula, CA 92592