Antrim County election: did the County Clerk misinform the Oversight Committee about the identity of the software?

Summary

The unofficial results released by Antrim County at about 4am on November 4th were in error by thousands of votes. Regardless of whether the software was at fault in any way, it is elementary that, to try and understand what happened, it is necessary to know what particular application was being employed.

In her oral evidence to the Michigan Joint Oversight Committee, Sheryl Guy the Antrim County Clerk referred to it repeatedly as ‘the Election Night program’ (or similar), or perhaps generically as ‘the election night program’, and said that it had been supplied to the county by a company called Election Source.

In this article, I demonstrate that the software application is properly called EMS Results Tally & Reporting, which is one of the two main pillars of Dominion’s Democracy Suite.

Sheryl Guy before the Oversight Committee

In her opening statement, Sheryl Guy said (2:39:04) that ‘the error caused the Election Night program to not load correctly’. Again, in answer to a question from Representative Beau LaFave, Guy said that the issue had not been a ‘software glitch’. Rather, it was (2:54:16) ‘the tabulator card talking to the Election Night software program’. In both instances, Guy’s terms could alternatively be rendered without capitalisation, as the ‘election night’ program or software program. She could perhaps have been just referring to it as the application that they use on election night.

But even when answering further questions from LaFave about the process they had undertaken to correct the results, over subsequent ‘days and hours’, Guy referred to the software employed as the ‘Election Night Results program’, despite it being no longer election night (3:16:26):

LaFave: ‘.. what did you do to make sure that what you reported now is accurate?

Guy: ‘Sir, we went through every precinct tape tabulator tape from every total of the election and we manually entered it.’

LaFave: ‘And when you say you entered it, what did you enter it into, a Google document, a calculator, a white board..?’

Guy: ‘To the Election Night Results program provided to us.’

In answer to LaFave’s next question, Guy identified the provider of the software as ‘Election Source’:

LaFave: ‘And who provides that?’

Guy: ‘Election Source provides that to us…

Election Source

Election Source, whose legal business name is Miller Consultations & Elections Inc, provides election services, products and support. While stating that it offers ‘a variety’ of election software, the only election management system profiled on its web-site is Dominion’s Democracy Suite.

In 2017, the State of Michigan entered into a contract with Dominion Voting Systems, who were to provide voting system hardware, firmware, software and service to counties (Dominion being one of three vendors certified by the state along with Hart and ES&S).

Election Source were to ‘work with Dominion to coordinate’ the supply of equipment and software to each jurisdiction:

They were to provide training to counties, set up and install equipment, deliver ‘election data’, and provide ‘programming/coding support’ among other responsibilities:

Statements by the Michigan Secretary of State

An interactive map provided by  Joceyln Benson the Michigan Secretary of State identifies the EMS employed by Antrim County as Dominion’s Democracy Suite 5.5:

In a statement released November 7th, Benson pointed out that counties use their EMS both to program their tabulators before the election, and to report the results after it:

She also stated that when Antrim found that they needed to make late changes to ballots for two local races, they received updated ‘programming’ from Election Source:

This would seem to be in accordance with Election Source’s contractual responsibility for ‘Election Data Delivery’, or alternatively for ‘Programming/Coding Support’.

Dominion Democracy Suite

The term ‘suite’ in Dominion’s EMS ‘Democracy Suite‘  indicates that it comprises a number of different software applications. Of these, the two main pillars are the ‘Election Event Designer’ (EED), and ‘Results Tally & Reporting’ (RTR): 1

Results from each tabulator are inputted to the RTR, which tallies (aggregates) them into totals for precinct and county, to be reported in a variety of formats, including for example pdf for readable reports, and csv for spreadsheets.

It would be expected then that Antrim County would have utilised Democracy Suite’s RTR to aggregate the results from each tabulator and to issue the unofficial report of 4th November, and potentially both the 1st and the 2nd Amended reports.

The RTR Application

The name of the application greets the user every time it is started (RTR User Guide, p.16) :

The Guide outlines 5 post-voting activities, beginning with the input of results data from the individual tabulators:

The results from each tabulator may be inputted through the physical transfer of memory cards, or from the local file system, or from a location on the EMS Network Attached Storage server 2, or by manual entry:

It appears that the term ‘publishing’ is used for the release of unofficial election results:

while the term ‘reporting’ is used for the next stage in the process:

Results can be exported in a number of different types, including ‘Michigan Standard Results File’, which happens to be selected in this User Guide (p. 88):

Types of Report

The Election Summary Report, as its name implies, summaries the election results across the jurisdiction. The example given in the User Guide:

has a similar layout, typeface and timestamp to the Antrim County reports:

These differ in being Statements of Votes Cast, but these also are described in the RTR User Guide (without a visual example allowing a direct comparison):

The fact that the reports produced by Antrim County have similar and probably identical appearance to those known to be produced by RTR serves to confirm that it was indeed RTR that was employed to produce them, as would be expected from a county that uses Democracy Suite.

‘Election Night Reporting’

Dominion offers an optional feature called ‘Election Night Reporting’ to create a graphical display of the results. As is clear from the diagram below (Michigan contract, p. 116), the Election Night Reporting Module is separate from RTR, importing data which has been exported from RTR:

Election Night Reporting outputs the election results in EML (Election Markup Language), enabling it to be used to power web-site displays:

While the name of this module, ‘Election Night Reporting’, is similar to the terms used by Sheryl Guy in her evidence to the committee for the software employed to take results from individual tabulators, tally and publish or report them, it is not performing the same function. It is RTR which carries out these tasks.

Conclusion

Individual tabulator result files, held on memory cards, were inputted to Dominion’s Democracy Suite 5.5 ‘Results Tally & Reporting’ application on election night in Antrim County. It was the Unofficial Statement of Votes Cast produced by RTR on the morning of 4th November that contained the widely reported errors.

After the County Clerk had realised that the Unofficial Results were incorrect, the individual tabulator results, as recorded on the print-out tapes, were inputted  into the same application, RTR. It seems probable (although the timeline is unclear) that this process resulted in the 1st Amended Results of the afternoon of 5th November, which were also incorrect.

It follows that, to understand what went wrong in the first two sets of results, it is necessary to investigate the role of the RTR application. It seems to me therefore that the County Clerk withheld important information from the Oversight Committee when she referred to it either by proper name as the Election Night software program, or generically as the election night software program.

I am not alleging necessarily that she did so deliberately. That said, it’s hard to understand why she would not naturally use its normal name RTR, that is, Results Tally & Reporting, which appears on the screen each time the application is loaded.

Andrew Chapman

 

Notes:

  1. As it is called on the web page , or Results and Tally Reporting as it is called in the brochure).
  2. Described here as like a private cloud.

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Andrew Chapman

I live for Jesus. He is my life, my hope, my Saviour and Redeemer and Lord. Hallelujah! God has blessed me with a wonderful wife called Alison, and we serve the Lord together with gladness and joy. Pray for us that we may fulfill our calling and persevere to the end on the narrow path that leads to life.

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