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The case of the mysterious thumb-drive?

A friend at Video The Vote, an organization that documents and reports any irregularities that occur at polling places and boards of elections while they are happening, sat me down and told me the story of the mysterious thumb-drive. Here’s the short version:

On November 7th, there was a Video The Vote cameraman hanging out at the Orange County Registrar of Voter’s…just kicking it with his camera waiting to catch any oddities on film. Sometime after midnight (so technically it was the 8th) he captured this:
[ev type=”youtube” data=”gvvGSPVXJ6M”][/ev]

What you’re seeing is the “secure” tabulation room. The computers in this room are not connected to any network. These machines are responsible for tabulating the vote, and therefore shouldn’t be in contact with any other computer.

In this video you see a person downloading the current tabulations onto a thumb drive.

I emailed the Communications Director from the Orange County Registrar of Voters Brett Rowley, and he told me that this video without explanation could be construed in many ways. “As you know, our tally room is completely sealed off from the outside world. Without that connection we have to copy the files to post on the website for the public. That is what is happening in the video,” he wrote.

I buy that.

I don’t think (and have never thought) that the Orange County Registrar of Voters is out to maliciously alter the outcomes of our elections.

But I’m not in love with the idea of a thumb-drive around some dude’s neck– that contains who-knows-what–going into that secure room and plugging into the secure tabulation machines. At the very least the county could have a stack of verified-empty discs that the data is downloaded onto.

The friend from Video The Vote was heading down the “this is a conspiracy” road, but I’m going to stick to the “just another case of the Registrar being lazy” street. Either way, there is cause for concern.

If you’re interested in contacting Neal Kelley and telling him that the “secure” room is less-than-secure, here’s his contact information:

Neal Kelley
The Registrar of Voters, Orange County

P.S. Wouldn’t this thumb-drive stuff make for the perfect plot-element in a political/suspense novel?

One Comment

  1. Dan Chmielewski Dan Chmielewski December 2, 2006

    Data on a thumb drive can also be used to upload information; so its possible a quick “save us” may have altered votes. There are easy tech fixes for these issues. Its up to the county to want to fix it.

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