Friday, February 23, 2007

February 21, 2007 Minutes For Citizens' Advisory Committee

In conjunction with
Voter’s Registration Office

Meeting Minutes
Wednesday, February 21, 2007 – 7:00 p.m.

The scheduled meeting of the Citizen’s Advisory Committee was held at 7:00p.m. February 21, 2007, in Court Room # 1.

WELCOME – Margaret “Peg” Ferraro

Ms. Ferraro welcomed everyone to this meeting.


Mr. Conklin gave the roll and the following committee members were present:

Margaret “Peg” Ferraro Jack Bradt Russ Shade
Richard Benner Greta Browne


Minutes from 2/7/07 Motion to approve by Richard Brenner, second by Jack Bradt, motion carried.

Minutes from 2/13/07 Motion to approve by Russ Shade, second by Jack Bradt, motion carried with a note to make sure Greta’s last name is spelled correctly throughout the minutes. There is an e at the end of Browne.


Dr. Alan Brau spoke on three points.
Documentation for certification of the machines used in the November election. We should have verification the machines were certified.
Article in the Press regarding the Dept of State for approval or re-examination. He is currently a Plaintiff in a lawsuit against the Secretary of State because he will not re-examine the machines. After all other remedies were attempted and not properly responded to, a lawsuit was filed.
Would like to get a small committee together to open the machines, see what is inside and see if it matches the specifications for the original certification.

Survey addresses the two major issues: the voting machines and the operation of the office. Survey should be expanded to include political parties and the sampling of voters. Finalized surveys should be ready by the 2/28/07 meeting. A deadline needs to be set for the surveys to be completed and returned. The group can then reconvene with the survey results and brainstorm a list of recommendations.
Another survey was distributed to group that could be used for everyone with additional questions to target specific groups. A suggestion to put the survey on the website for people to fill out was made.
Need to define to whom the survey will be sent. A 10% return rate is a reasonable expectation.

Voting Machine Software and Hardware
Would like to written communication from the Dept of State acknowledging the machines were certified.
A Motion was made for the committee send formal communication to Secretary of State of Pennsylvania requesting to see the certification of the specific machines used in the last two elections. Motion seconded. All representative of the legislatures of this County should be copied on any amendments. Suggestion will be added to the motion. Letter will ask for a response within 10 days. Pressure will be added if no response is received.
AVS needs to supply the bills and materials for the machines.
All candidate names and pictures appearing on the first screen is something being considered for the future.

Office Operation
Mr. Brenner voiced concerns about communications from the office being poorly written.
Suggest exit interviews be conducted for employees leaving these County positions to determine the reason for the high turn over rate.
The major turn over occurred before Deb DePaul took over the Elections office.
County process is utilized to hire new employees.
Charlie Dent concerned about impartiality when contacting the Elections office.
Newspaper stated they have a difficult time getting information from the Elections office.
Deb responded to the concerns mentioned.
Elections office advised against having a Notary in the office.
The Green Party will be added to the cc list for communications.
County IT department manages the website.
Machine training schedule with be updated on the website.


1. Petitions
· Petitions are printed by a print supplier that supplies them to all the counties in the state. The print supplier changes them as dictated by the law, changes of judges, etc. The Dept of State provides the instructions.


A request was made for Mr. Spadoni to research the possibility of making the County Election Board completely non-partisan. (Ex: 2 democrats, 2 republicans and one member from another minority party). Home Rule Charter may need reviewed and possibly amended if the request is accommodate.


Ms. Ferraro adjourned the meeting.


Next meeting: February 28, 2007 at 7:00 County Council Meeting Room

Following meeting: March 14, 2007 County Council Meeting Room

ADOPTED THIS DATE: _____________________________


Monday, February 19, 2007

February 7, 2007 Minutes For Citizens' Advisory Committee

In conjunction with
Voter’s Registration Office

Meeting Minutes
Wednesday, February 7, 2007 – 7:00 p.m.

The scheduled meeting of the Citizen’s Advisory Committee was held at 7:00 p.m., February 7, 2007, in Court Room # 1.

WELCOME – Margaret “Peg” Ferraro

Ms. Ferraro welcomed everyone to this meeting.


Mr. Conklin gave the roll and the following committee members were present:

Margaret “Peg” Ferraro Jack Bradt Richard Shade
Richard Benner Greta Browne NOT PRESENT

Approval of Minutes

One correction on Page 5 under comment - Ms. Browne should have been Joan Rosenthol. Loretta Schiavone should be commended for these great minutes.

Page 2 points out these are wireless voting machines. It is a wireless feature not a wireless machine, which is not allowed by the State.

Minutes approved as amended, and corrected. Motion by Mr.Benner, seconded by Mr. Shade. Motion carried.

Old Business

There was a comment by Mr. Benner concerning the original wireless feature on the machines and subsequently the Department of State did not certify the machine’s wireless feature.

The role of the Election Commission was discussed. Mr. Garvin oversees personnel office and it’s daily activities. Any problems are brought before the Board. The Solicitor’s office is utilized in the case of a legal question. The staff is informed of any updates and changes.
The actual machines themselves were discussed. Technical difficulties were reported to a dedicated telephone number manned with a staff of six people.

The county is divided into 5 zones consisting of 23 districts. A request to break the zones down into smaller areas was made.

Mr. Erney gave a detailed demonstration of the machines. An explanation of how every machine is individually tested was given. Smart cards are programmed for individual districts and will only work on those particular machines. Voters do not handle the smart cards. If the card is removed too soon, the machine may freeze. Information is not lost but the machine needs to be rebooted. This issue will be addressed in upcoming election training.

Machines are certified only by the PA Department of State.

Each machine generates reports. A sample report was generated and shown to the committee.

Staff training was questioned. Instructions sheets were discussed. The process of tallying the votes was explained.

There were complaints regarding the lack of assistance received from the Federal Government in the whole process.


There have been accusations that the machines used were not State-certified. The State was questioned about it but has not yet responded.

The screen freezing up of machines was mentioned again.

A suggestion was made to have one or two poll workers on stand by in the event a scheduled worker does not show up. Workers are given a demonstration of the machine and an opportunity to do some hands on training with it.

There is only one federal testing place that the entire nation has to go through.

Training of poll workers discussed a second time. There needs to be a process to ensure each individual is 100% functional regarding the machines.

The tapes coming out of the machines need to be random, not chronological so it is impossible to tell who voted when.

Ms. Ferraro adjourned the meeting at 8:40 p.m. Motion by Mr. Shade, seconded by Mr. Bradt. Motion carried.

Next meeting: February 13, 2007 @ 4 p.m. County Council Meeting Room

ADOPTED THIS DATE: _____________________________


Friday, February 16, 2007

February 13, 2007 Minutes For Citizens' Advisory Committee Minutes

In conjunction with
Voter’s Registration Office

Meeting Minutes
February 13, 2007 – 4:00 p.m.

The scheduled meeting of the Citizen’s Advisory Committee was held at 4:00 p.m. on February 13, 2007, in the County Council Meeting Room #307.


Mr. Russ Shade called the meeting to order.

Roll Call

Mr. Conklin gave the roll and the following members were present:
Jack Bradt Russ Shade Greta Browne
Peg Ferraro NOT present Richard Benner NOT present

A suggestion was made to postpone approval of last weeks minutes until next week.

Courtesy of the Floor

Alan Brau:

Spoke about a website regarding voting machines, Two issues are at stake, hardware and software. Anytime a change is made to software, the machine needs re-certified. A different version than the certified version was used in the February election. Were the machines re-certified with current version? What types of changes actually require re-certification? Documentation of all software changes needs to be maintained.
The diagram of the certified hardware should be compared with a diagram of the hardware in our machines to ensure consistency.

Russ Shade:

Gave an explanation of how software conversions are numbered.

Old Business

Russ Shade:

Last week we talked about the conversing of the software and how the State was handling it and whether the particular version that we were using was certified or not. We also mentioned the business of the hard ware, which is most disturbing.

John Conklin:

The goal for the unofficial vote count on election night is midnight. Two types of data entry and USB vote tally solutions are being considered, one server for AVS and one multiple-user for manual date entry.
Write-ins are a concern. The information needs to be manually evaluated as to the “intent” of the voter. For election night purposes, a total count by race of the total number of write in for the unofficial tally is needed. AVS will create a file which will be uploaded every few minutes and posted to the County website. Specific write-in names will not be posted on the unofficial vote count reports, but the number of write-ins will be shown.
New reporting features will include information broken down by precinct, machine, and other details not previously obtained. Prior to election night, we need to make sure everything is exactly how we want it.
Some discussion took place regarding the certification of the machines. Both a manual entry and a concurrent electronic entry will be used as a checks and balance.


The Election department should be divided into two groups. One group to works towards complying with the next election and one group to identify and develop a plan for future elections.

People in numbers would be more effective in convincing legislators to make the appropriate accommodations to make elections run in the most efficient manner.

A letter should be sent to both AVS and the Department of State requesting a bill of materials for the machines. A comparison should be made between the two to ensure the machines meet certification standards.

New Business:

A survey for candidates and poll workers was put together for the committee to take home and review and comment on next week before it is distributed.

A suggestion was made for the Election office to keep a running record of who comes in, at what time and the purpose of their visit.

Meeting Adjourned: Motion by Greta Brown, seconded by Jack Bradt. Motion carried.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

January 31 Minutes of Citizens Advisory Commitee

In conjunction with
Voter’s Registration Office

Meeting Minutes (Revision)
January 31, 2007 – 7:00 PM

The scheduled meeting of the Citizen’s Advisory Committee was held at 7:00 p.m., on January 31, 2007, in the County Council Room #307.

Welcome – Margaret “Peg” Ferraro
Ms. Ferraro welcomed the committee, Mr. Conklin, Director of Administration, and all participants for attending the second meeting of the committee.

Roll Call
Mr. Conklin gave the roll and the following committee members were present:

Margaret “Peg” Ferraro Russell Shade Greta Browne
Jack Bradt Richard Benner

Approval of Minutes
Ms. Browne noted that her last name is spelled with an “e” at the end.
Ms. Browne suggested that the minutes include comments made by the committee members.

On a motion by Mr. Benner, seconded by Mr. Shade, the minutes were unanimously approved, noting the correction and suggestion.

Courtesy of the Floor
Ms. Ferraro acknowledged the public and accepted comments. There were no comments at this time.

Old Business

Packet of Information from Deborah DePaul
In the absence of Ms. DePaul, Ms. Ferraro advised that any discussions or concerns be addressed at the next meeting when Ms. DePaul would be present. However, Ms. Ferraro mentioned that the information in the packet gave a great deal of insight into the problems facing voters throughout the country as a result of the “Help America Vote” Act.

Committee Meeting Issues
Ms. Ferraro suggested that each subsequent meeting have a specific agenda such as:
voting machines at one meeting, another meeting for discussing the “office” itself.
Ms. Browne commented and discussed her concern regarding interviewing and surveying members of the election commission, county council, and members of the

NC Citizens’ Advisory Committee Page Two January 31, 2007

staff and chairpersons of the political parties as suggested by Mr. Stoffa at the last meeting. Ms Browne’s suggestion was that the committee would arrange for personal interviews with those people mentioned and advise the public of these interviews, however, without jeopardizing the confidentiality of the interview. After each personal interview, if the person consents, they would either attend the committee meeting in person or send a written statement.

In reference to Ms. DePaul’s absence from the meeting, Mr. Conklin mentioned that he would have staff attend if given specific direction and advance notice from the Committee chair for scheduling purposes.

Mr. Bradt expressed the need for the Voter’s Registration Office member(s) to attend the meetings. There are questions only that office can provide in reference to the packet of information Ms. DePaul provided. One issue is the “wireless” voting machines which were originally proposed. They were disallowed by State mandate. Mr. Bradt posed a question as to why they were not allowed to be used. Also, did that have any effect on the results of the last election?

New Business

Election Machines
Ms. Ferraro, after reviewing information in the packet, noted that a Committee was formed to determine what type of machine to be chosen. A wireless machine feature was their choice, but according to the laws of Pennsylvania, it was deemed illegal. “What was the time period in learning of this law in relation to the election date?”

Representative of the Election Commission, Mr. Walter Garvin, Chairman.
Mr. Garvin addressed the Committee.

The committee organized to review and decide which machine to purchase, could not submit an order for the machine they wanted until the Department of State completed the certification process which did not take place until a very late date. The State ultimately did not certify the wireless machine. One of the reasons, as stated by Mr. Garvin, was that information on the wireless machine could be very easily corrupted (counterfeit access even from another room/building) which was determined by one of the state’s consultants, a computer professor from the University of Pittsburgh. Because of this delay, the Committee was required to order a different machine.

Ms. Ferraro inquired as to the role of the Election Commission Board.
Mr. Garvin noted that it oversees the personnel office and its daily activities. If any problems of the office occur it is brought before the Board. They also certify the results of the elections.

NC Citizens’ Advisory Committee Page Three January 31, 2007

Mr. Garvin noted that to certify the votes, the Commission meets after the official vote has been tabulated. The Commission meets four times a year but because of mitigating circumstances, it was necessary to meet more frequently this past year.

In regard to tabulation of votes, Mr. Garvin noted that the machine has an electronic as well as a paper trail record. As a precaution, the paper cannot become a receipt to be given to the voter since the receipt would have the capability to be used as a counterfeit vote.

Mr. Conklin inquired about the USB’s and the issue of inserting them into the mainframe. How are the votes that were not legible handled? Could that be a reason for the confusion in the tally at the last election?

Mr. Garvin could not specifically explain how these kinds of illegible votes were handled and but could be better answered by a computer technician.

Mr. Garvin attended training sessions before the election, which comprised of young and older voters. The opinions expressed by these voters after use was that they found it simple and easy to operate and there were no complaints.

Mr. Benner would like to have the machine at the next meeting along with the representative from the manufacturer, ABS. The Committee members agreed.

Ms. Ferraro raised concerns about the Voter’s Registration Office in reference to the number of staff to handle the busiest times, she expressed concern about the staff being well trained, especially, for voter absentee ballots, and are they comfortable in their responsibilities, and is the office user-friendly, especially for new candidates.

Mr. Benner inquired about the training of the staff and how it was done. Is there a large turnover in this office?

Ms. Browne inquired if the Election Commission is involved in the hiring of the personnel.

Mr. Garvin noted that the applications for the appointment of a new Chief Registrar were forwarded to the Commission and reviewed after which interviews and recommendations were handed to County Human Resources. Staff members of the office are done strictly through Human Resources.

Mr. Bradt made mention that the purpose of this Committee is to address complaints, as directed by County Executive John Stoffa. Mr. Bradt would like to prioritize these complaints. Why were the voters so dissatisfied?

NC Citizens’ Advisory Committee Page Four January 31, 2007

Ms. Browne explained that she has outlined all the issues she is aware of. A copy of these issues was given to everyone.

Voter Registration
o Driver License registration and change of state

Pre-election Outreach
o Absentee ballots

Candidates and Campaigns
o Voter Lists
o Filing Dates and info

Election Day
o Poll workers: training and support
o Machines
· Privacy
· First screen – straight party
o Absentee ballots
o Provisional voting
o Paper trail

Election results

Voting machines
o Wireless features

Mr. Garvin mentioned that this was not his perspective since he did not receive any complaints. Contrarily, he received very positive reaction from the last election. He mentioned that the only problem he heard was concerning residents who registered through PennDot and when they went to vote they became aware that they were not registered at all and the County never received any information about the “voter”.
Ms. Ferraro explained that concerns surrounded the issue of the “straight party” ticket and set up of the computer screens. “Why can’t we see all the names of all the candidates on the first screen.”

Mr. Garvin: The state mandates that a voter have the option of a “straight ticket” vote.

Mr. Bradt expressed his concern over the issue of “Confidentially” when voting and having the machines in an area where others are not able to see while you’re voting. This is of major concern for voters.

Ms. Ferraro inquired whether the machines are being made available in senior centers, libraries, schools, and community centers so that they can be used for training?
NC Citizens’ Advisory Committee Page Five January 31, 2007

Mr. Garvin said that there has been training at senior centers and malls; also the Commission is working with the League of Women Voters. Also, training is available on the website to some extent. The information related to the machines is going to be online for the next election.

Ms. Ferraro asked if schools are being allowed to perform “mock” elections on the new voting machines?

Question and Answer Period was closed and the Committee Members extended thanks to Mr. Garvin.

Mr. Conklin addressed Mr. Benner advising that the Assistant Solicitor assigned to Voter’s Registration, Christopher Spadoni, has also expressed interest in attending the Committee meetings.

Ms. Browne Joan Rosenthal critiqued the organization, spelling and use of language in the letters being sent out of the Voters Registration office. Letters were not dated. Her concern related to the representation of the County to the voters. Ms. Browne expressed her desire to have more meetings, especially, before the next election. She also would like to have an accounting of the staff’s employment in that office, i.e., new employee, employee leaving, etc.

The Committee agreed that good public relations are the key to a smooth election process.
Mr. Bradt also noted that in his opinion, there is very good work being done in the Voter Registration office.

Ms. Ferraro concurred with Ms. Browne that a letter composition should be properly written according to the rules set by the English grammar, spelling, and language guidelines.

Courtesy of the Floor
Bernie O’Hare, Nazareth PA:

Problems relating to the new election machines by voters are being heard by the Federal government and there is legislation that will create changes. In his opinion, even if there were old lever machines being used, there would have still been problems with the last two elections. Mr. O’Hare feels that the Voter’s Registration office is not user-friendly and creates problems
related to the elections. He expressed disappointment in the fact that absentee voters did not have time to submit their ballot. Also, training time, to learn how to use the machines was not sufficient. In an explanation of a “Provisional Ballot” Mr. O’Hare described, came out of the “America Vote” Act, people were sent away at the polls and not allowed to cast a “Provisional Ballot”. His example was of a woman, a foreigner, who is an American citizen who moved and changed her voter’s registration status to the municipality she was living and when she went to vote with her daughter and husband, who were also registered voters, found out that she was not registered with that municipality, even though they were. She was not allowed to cast a “Provisional Ballot”. Mr. O’Hare stated, “That this is the fault of the Elections Office”. Mr. O’Hare also stated that people were not able to speak to anyone at the elections office on the day of the election to answer questions and provide information. Mr. O’Hare also expressed concern about nepotism and other ethical issues he believes are occurring.

Mr. Failey, an elections poll worker from Forks Township expressed his concern about using personalities in discussions regarding issues of the election.

Mr. Conklin related that issues concerning problems with the email address would be addressed with the County IT department - resolved.

Mr. Stoffa reiterated that he suggests that a one-page survey be conducted for people who ran for office. The question: “ How can the office do better?”

Mr. Stoffa discussed the process in purchasing the machines used in the last election. He described that eleven counties were in process of purchasing the AVS machines and later backed down. Lehigh County was one of them and went with a different manufacturer.

Mr. Stoffa expressed his concern regarding the next election and how we can improve on the next election.

Mr. Benner would like to have the machine and the Representative from AVS machines, Deborah DePaul, and possibly Howard Erney here at the next meeting.

Next Meeting Date – Wednesday, February 7, 2007, 7:00 PM, Court Room #1.

Ms. Ferraro adjourned the meeting at 8:30 PM.


January 31, 2007