Tuesday, October 28, 2014

New Complaint Directed at Election Commission Administration

Democratic election sleuths Weinberg and Ross challenge removal of daily voter list from SCEC website on grounds, says Holden, of ID protection.

Posted By on Tue, Oct 28, 2014 at 4:52 PM

From left: Weinberg, Holden, Ross
  • From left: Weinberg, Holden, Ross

Another skirmish has occurred on the ever-active battlefront involving Shelby County Election Administrator Rich Holden, on the one hand, and watchdog/activist Joe Weinberg, on the other.

Weinberg and fellow Democratic activist Steve Ross have bird-dogged Election Commission activities and election preparations for the last several years and, in the process, have managed to expose some glitches, actual and potential. Weinberg has focused a good deal of attention on the weaknesses of the currently employed county election machinery.

Most recently, Weinberg noticed that the Election Commission has stopped posting the daily Participating Voter List (PVL) on its website.

As Weinberg noted in a recent communication to his online network: "The PVL is the document that enables campaigns to remove people who have already voted from their GOTV efforts. It also enables you to be more precise in your evaluation of turnout in a specific district ... [T]he PVL is voter level data." He added pointedly, "The PVL is also the data set that Steve Ross & I have both used to find anomalies in the distribution of voters."

Several "anomalies" unearthed by the pair during the 2012 election cycle revealed such errors as ballots being distributed to the wrong sets of voters (or denied to the right ones) — occasioning both confusion and, in a case or two, serious litigation regarding the election results.

When Weinberg protested to Holden regarding the removal of the daily PVLs from the Shelby County Election Commission website, he says Holden began sending him emails with the data, which the administrator continued to leave off the SCEC's site.

"When I asked him why the policy changed," said Weinberg, "he said 'Change happens.' Vintage Holden."

Asked the same question by the Flyer, Holden said he had ceased posting the voter-list data online because "several people expressed concern about their private information being published for all to see." They were worried, said the administrator, about identity theft, among other issues.

"Anybody who wants the PVL data can get it from my office merely by asking for it. There's a form they have to fill out to make sure they have a legitimate political need for it," said Holden, adding that the chairs of the two local political parties get the list on a daily basis routinely.

Like Weinberg, Ross is skeptical of the administrator's explanation, posting on his blog (vibincbloc.com) that "[a]side from primary ballot information, there is no information in the PVL that’s any more dangerous to your privacy than the information from an old school phone book, or white pages dot com."

There's probably more to come on this matter.

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