Bill Bruch letter to Skagit Auditor, Elections, Commissioners, Prosecutor
Aug 16, 2022
Attn: Skagit County Auditor Sandy Perkins; Skagit County Elections Supervisor Gabrielle Clay; Skagit County Commissioners, Peter Browning, Ron Wesen, Lisa Janicki; Skagit County Prosecutor Office
Re: Skagit Republicans Election Observer Findings
SCRP 2022 Primary Election Observer Report
In June 2022 I appointed Allison Capelle as the designated Election Observer Supervisor for the Skagit County Republican Party (SCRP). In the month of July Allison and I worked closely with SCRP Secretary Jack Christy on compiling a list of SCRP Election Observers for the 2022 elections. To date the SCRP has 46 dedicated elections observers, many of whom participated in observing the 2022 primary election (See SCRP Volunteer Results Primary 2022 Document). With the expected increase in scheduling for the General election, we are adding Zindra Nelson to our scheduling team.
The SCRP wholeheartedly thanks Skagit County Elections for their cooperation with our observers. Our observers appreciate the honesty and hard work that Skagit elections workers put into the process. After working and speaking with Allison, the SCRP observers, and getting their feedback from their experience with the primary election, we came up with several ideas for improvement (See SCRP Primary Observations Document).
Also, we are requesting a more structured schedule of hours from Skagit County Elections for the upcoming General Election
#1. We are requesting that elections observers be allowed to watch the entire process, per WAC 434-250-110. Unfortunately, our 8:30 AM and 9 AM shift observers found that when they arrived the elections staff was already processing ballots before observers were allowed to be in the room during the processing. This was magnified when the building’s doors remained locked until 8:30 AM as they have an auto-lock on them. For the 2022 General Election we are requesting that we be present when elections processing begins. Whether that be at 8 AM, 8:30 AM, etc. As long as ballots are being processed, observers should be allowed to be present.
#2. Current Skagit Elections policy is that each political party only have one election observer present in the room. There is a problem with this, as it is not always compliant with WAC 434-261-20. As witnessed multiple times, oftentimes there are many county center operation activities happening at once. This makes it impossible for one person to observe all the processes, i.e., the scanning station, Agilis scanning and sorting system room, room where ballots are being looked at, adjudication, tabulation etc. Also, our observers are stating that once in the room they are being put too far away from the process and it is difficult for them to see what is going on.
As a solution we request to have three SCRP election observers to be allowed in the room to observe processing. During the L& A test there were 6 observers present and there was plenty of room to accommodate them all. Another solution would be to get a larger room, which the SCRP will wholeheartedly advocate for.
#3. Signature verification is a concern. Many of our observers noted that during the signature matching processes that several signatures were allowed to be accepted that did not look like the signature on record. These were not little differences, but big differences between the signatures on file and the ones on the ballot that were allowed to be counted. There was a noted difference in the skill levels of two elections employees that were checking signatures. While one seemed to do an excellent job, one seemed to need a bit more training.
Also, a concern is that the VoteWA system is online and could be compromised. Also, any nefarious hacker can get voter signatures and simply sign them onto a mail-in ballot envelope that won't be detected by the signature verification process. If someone accesses signatures online, it could be possible for forged signatures to get through signature verification process. We do not trust that this online voting system is being used fairly. Therefore, if Skagit Elections notices patterns of online ballots being voted in block, potential voter fraud, etc. please investigate.
It was noted early in the primary election process that the scanners were not able to scan / read the ballots which led to several days of delays. As a remedy, new rollers were installed, and a tech found that the paper setting was not correct. After this occurred, I emailed Gabrielle Clay asking for a new L & A test per RCW 29A.12.130 / WAC 434-335-330 (4) If, for any reason, changes are made to the ballot counting programming after the official logic and accuracy test, an emergency logic and accuracy test must be conducted pursuant to WAC 434-335-310. According to Gabrielle these changes did not warrant a new Logic and Accuracy test because no changes were made to the scanner’s software system.
Thank you for your consideration and attention to these matters.
Bill Bruch, SCRP Chairman
PRIMARY RESULTS / GENERAL PLAN
7/19/22 – 8/11/22
Registered voters 85,330
Ballots processed 37,576
17 days observers present
15 days x 6 (+) hours / day
1 full day no processing
2 afternoons no processing
102 total volunteer hours processing room / 26 scheduled hours rotunda
128 total volunteer hours
Average 4.13 hours / volunteer
Every shift filled!
ZERO cancelations (amazing!)
Plan for 4.5 weeks / 150 hours processing room (3 observers = 450 hours)
Approximate dates 10/25 – 11/23
Goal: 45 active observers (3 observers = 90 active)
Goal: 70 total observers (3 observers = 140 total observers)
Goal: 50 hours rotunda
No ballots processed without observers
2022 PRIMARY OBSERVATIONS
WAC 434-261-020 / WAC 434-250-110
· 7/28/22 Observer witnessed via rotunda video feed, observers with Algelis machine, ballots being removed from the envelopes by processing board at table, no observers
· 8/1/22 Observer witnessed via the rotunda, ballots being scanned with observers and ballots being removed from envelopes
· 8/2/22 Observer arrive at 8:30 to find the processing board was handling and processing the ballots without observers.
· 8/2/22 Observer witnessed processing ballots in two stages, signature matching without an observers
· 8/3/22 Observer arrives at 8:30 to see ballots being processed without observers
· 8/9/22 Observer witness in processing room, ballots being scanned with observer, but duplication process was not observed
· 8/10/22 Observer witnessed ballot processing prior to 8:30 when doors open to public.
· Inconsistent communication regarding observer schedule start time.
· 8/4/22 Observer witnessed ballots on “employees’ desk”
· 8/4/22 Observer watched as “someone” walked two ballots into the processing room and saw ballots in mail slots
· Observers questioned the lack of presence of the County Auditor doing the processing functions.
PROCESSING CENTER SPACE LIMITATIONS
· Longer processing time due to insufficient processing staff
· Observer WAC’s are not followed as “lack of space” causes a limit of observers
· Two separate machines – closed source
· External drive is moved from the scanner to the tabulator. On tabulator write in names are viewed and added to tally. A third drive is added to convert data from tabulator to a CSV file. This drive is inserted into the Elections Supervisors computer to upload the results to vote.wa. It was explained that these last drives are cleaned and tagged for future use.