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|videotaping in public buildings?
Voting Rights Forum Participant
Post Number: 3
Best of Black Box? N/A
Votes: 0 (A keeper?)
|Posted on Monday, September 17, 2012 - 1:14 pm: ||
Can I openly videotape in public buildings such as the DMV and Auditor's office, or do I need to hide the camera to avoid problems?
Voting Rights Forum Participant
Post Number: 2
Best of Black Box?
Votes: 2 (A keeper?)
|Posted on Thursday, October 18, 2012 - 12:02 am: ||
Here in San Juan County, Beka, you are banned from observing election activities.
San Juan Public Access Television told officials that SJPATV intended to show up and video what citizen public observers had already witnessed and reported: officials viewing and recording the pairing of Voter ID bar code (on return envelope) with Ballot ID bar code (on lower left of Hart ballot) during the assembly of the outgoing ballot packet.
This illegal procedure allows officials the push-button ability to identify the voter of any ballot, or to fetch and inspect the ballot of any voter.
In response to the local Public Access cable team's proposed documentation of the assembly of the blank ballots, the county Canvass Board called an emergency Special Meeting to pass new "administrative rules" banning vidcams, cameras and cell phones from the premises of the SJC Election office building and grounds during the 8-weeks duration of an election.
The emergency rules also ban public and official partisan observers from the processing areas, or from getting close enough to read blank ballots during assembly, or returned voted ballots during processing and counting.
All computer screens are turned away from the doorway through which observers are still allowed to peer from the foyer into the process room to watch flashing lights and distant papers (presumably ballots).
The officially alleged purpose of the permanent emergency ban is to:
1) prevent the possible accidental exposure of a voter's Social Security number,
2) protect voters dropping off their ballots from intimidation by potentially being documented on camera as being voters, and
3) prevent possible distraction and interference with temp workers doing the processing and counting.
Violators of the ban, such as visitors or voters who carry cell phones onto the Elections Office grounds, are subject to ejection or arrest.
Until 2005, ballots in San Juan County were counted by citizen judges and volunteers at each precinct polling place, in public, in front of everybody interested.
Today all ballots are counted in secret on one machine by 2 staff and 6-8 temp workers.
SJC Auditor Milene Henley assured press that her contacting other counties verified that this ban on media, partisan & public observers is standard practice in most counties. We found this assertion surprising, but our public records request for her communications with other counties on this issue went unanswered. We don't have resources to sue for disclosure.
We have been pressing litigation to stop the linking of voter ID and ballot ID for 6 yrs now (White et al. v Reed & SJC); yesterday the latest costly proposed delay from Sec of State Sam Reed and SJC was accepted by the Superior Court. Adjudication will likely come after Reed leaves office, and too late to protect the secrecy of the ballots in the Nov presidential election.
Most WA counties use this Hart voting system, and all who use it have its unique serial number bar code feature enabled as an "election best practice" encouraged by Mr. Reed.
The same Hart system in CA is deployed with the unique serial number and bar code feature disabled; CA and WA share nearly identical secret ballot guarantees in Constitution and law.
Some of the WA Hart counties, like San Juan, also overtly automate the link of ballot ID to the ID of its voter using "Mail-in Ballot Tracker" from VoteHere. Principals of the privately held company:
Ralph Munro (San Juan Island part-time resident), Chairman of the Board, Sam Reed's predecessor and political mentor/patron
Robert Gates (Orcas Island resident), former CIA director, recently retired Bush-Obama Sec of Defense
William Ruckelshaus (San Juan Island resident), Nixon's head of the FBI
William Owens (resident across the water), former number two at the Pentagon, Vice-Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, National Security Agency official, Ruckelshaus's primary business partner in financing outfit Madrona Investments, currently running Intelius.com, the outfit hawking dossiers of personal privacy info over the internet.
The first million dollars to Munro and associates for Mail-in Ballot Tracker was disbursed in a sole-source no-bid contract paid by federal HAVA grant money that the Legislature never had opportunity to review, much less appropriate.
King County, by contrast to the Hart counties, prohibits unique identifiers on its ballots by the Secret Ballot Ordinance we successfully lobbied King County Council to pass, and pass unanimously.
I understand that observers in King Co are allowed to view ballot processing, see blank and voted ballots, and that most processing is also under live public video surveillance.
Whatcom Co is also known to welcome public observers. It does not use the Hart system and does not have unique identifiers on ballots.
Whether you can openly videotape in your Auditor's office depends on the administrative rules of your County Canvass Board (Auditor, Prosecutor and current chair of County legislative body). These rules should be available upon request. My guess is that Hart counties will tend toward secret processing and counting so that only officials can trace a ballot to its voter, and a voter to her ballot.
It would be a great coup and public service if someone could video-document the linking of voter ID and ballot ID during blank ballot assembly in a Hart county.
Be careful and good luck with your efforts, Beka!