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  1. #1
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    May 2005
    Heart of Dixie

    Texas - DA's Office asks to impound voting machines

    DA's Office asks to impound voting machines
    Posted: Wednesday, March 19, 2014
    By Jacob Fischler | The Monitor

    EDINBURG — Voting machines used in the Hidalgo County Democratic primary election earlier this month could be impounded this afternoon following an application the District Attorney’s Office filed this morning in the 398th state District Court alleging possible vote tampering.

    “Upon review of information received by the Hidalgo County District Attorney’s Office, regarding the forenamed election, criminal conduct may have occurred in connection with said election, therefore requiring impoundment of all the election returns, voted ballots, signature roster and other election records and equipment for an investigation and ultimately a determination of whether or not criminal conduct occurred,” the application states.

    The move comes on the heels of the county’s Commissioners Court announcing yesterday they’d hold a special meeting Friday to consider appointing a forensic analyst inspect the county’s 811 electronic voting machines for potential tampering.

    Twelve candidates who either lost outright in the Democratic primary, or who are headed to a runoff election sent letters to the County Judge’s Office asking for the machines to be inspected.

    The candidates cited a 2007 report by the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office that found the voting machines used in that state’s elections — manufactured by the same company that makes Hidalgo County’s machines — failed to adequately protect against tampering.

    “We’ve had concerns brought to our attention, and under the statute, the election code, (District Attorney) Mr. (Rene) Guerra on his initiative can request an investigation be conducted,” said Homer Vasquez, the top-ranking assistant in the criminal division of Guerra’s office. He declined to name the people who’d asked for the investigation.

    Hidalgo County has used the machines since 2005, county Elections Administrator Yvonne Ramón said on Monday.

    Before the machines can be impounded, 398th state District Court Judge Aida Salinas Flores has to sign off on the order, said Murray Moore, another high-ranking prosecutor in the DA’s Office. However, she noted the judge may not allow all the inspection powers authorities are asking for.

    “What we submitted to the court and what the court’s going to grant I can’t tell you at this point,” she said.

    Reached on her cell phone, Salinas Flores said she was out of her office for the afternoon for dental appointments, but planned to make a trip back to review the application.

    Rather than physically moving the machines, impounding them means the process of investigating them can begin. If they are impounded, the machines will not actually leave the Elections Administrations Building, where they remain locked away for at least 30 days from Election Day, Moore said.

    “That’s what we’ve done in the past,” she said. “They’re under lock and key anyway.”

  2. #2
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    May 2005
    Heart of Dixie

    by BOB PRICE
    20 Mar 2014

    Claims of voting machine irregularities have been made to county election officials in two Democrat Primaries in Hidalgo and El Paso Counties following the 2014 Joint Primary Election.

    In Hidalgo County, The McAllen Monitor reports that at least twelve candidates from the March 4th Democrat Primary to the County Commissioners’ Court have requested the County launch a forensic audit of the voting machines used in the election. In one of the letters obtained by Breitbart Texas dated March 12th, it was alleged, “…that numerous inconsistencies and discrepancies have appeared in our analysis of each candidate’s races. We therefore ask that a forensic expert inspect each voting machine to ensure that they have not malfunctioned or been subjected to fraud or tampering.”

    The Commissioners’ Court declined to address the issue during their regular Tuesday morning session according to local reports. However, two hours after the meeting an announcement was made that there would be a special meeting Friday to consider the issue, according to The Monitor.

    One of the letters was signed by ten candidates who are running for various local judicial and state representative offices. Two other candidates sent individual letters. Copies of the three letters plus an additional letter from Martin Golando, an attorney for the twelve candidates were obtained by Breitbart Texas and are attached at the bottom of this article.

    The letters from the candidates were not specific as to the allegations of irregularities. The letters contain phrases like “numerous inconsistencies and discrepancies” or “rumblings of irregularities.”
    The Golando letter, however, was more specific in the accusations of irregularities.

    Golando states in his letter that he has been approached by the 12 candidates to take immediate legal action in pursuing immediate relief.

    “Individual voters have indicated that in casting their vote using Hidalgo County’s voting machines, their vote for a particular candidate was changed by the voting machine; this happened repeatedly throughout the county,” Golando stated in the letter.

    “Others have complained that the total votes reported by the machines exceeded the total of voters that actually voted.” Golando continued.

    Golando claims there are allegations that the County was negligent in allowing an employee with intimate knowledge of how the machines work may have had access to these voting machines while they were also working for political campaigns. Golando’s letter claims, “This employee had access to the county’s information technology department inclusive of information and resources. Also, we have evidence that this particular employee admitted to manipulating the 2006 election results. A county employee with access to voting machines that can be manipulated while working on individual campaigns strains the public’s faith in the political process.”
    The Golando letter details the history of the previous complaints about the county employee as will as reported complaints from the past about the reliability of the type of machine used by Hidalgo County.

    In a response to an inquiry from Breitbart Texas, Hidalgo County Public Information Specialist, Hilda Salinas said the county has no official response at this time. However, she included a portion of the special meeting set for Friday to discuss this matter. The agendaitem reads:

    Discussion, consideration and action to engage a vendor for the purpose of reviewing and conducting a forensic analysis of Hidalgo County election hardware/equipment and software used in the 2014 March Primary, in an amount not to exceed $50K through a purchase order.”

    The special meeting of the Commissioner’s Court will be held Friday, March 21st, at 1:30 p.m. at the Edinburg City Hall, 412 W. University, in Edinburg Texas.

    In El Paso County, the El Paso Times reports one woman complained that one of the state representative candidates that she voted for did not appear on the voting summary screen that is available for a voter to review prior to casting their votes.

    The Times article says the woman, Irene Borunda, alleges she cast a vote for State Representative Naomi Gonzalez, but when the review page came up, the House District 76 race did not appear on the screen. She further claims the same thing happened to her grandmother.

    Rep. Gonzales told the Times that her office had received complaints, including from her own family members.

    Breitbart Texas spoke with El Paso County Elections Administrator Javier Chacon who said in a telephone interview, “We have only received the one complaint.” He indicated he did not believe Borunda’s statement is accurate. He explained the Dominion Touch-Screen machines used by the County have been thoroughly tested before and after the election for accuracy. As to Borunda’s claim, Chacon said, “The review screen is a very long page. The District 76 race appears way down on the page and you would have to scroll down to it to see it.”

    Chacon explained there are different arrows on the touch-screen to either scroll down the page or to move forward and cast your vote. Once the vote has been cast, there is no way to see how an individual voted on a specific race. He said that during his conversation with Borunda, he got the impression she had not scrolled down the page to where the particular race she was concerned about would have appeared.

    Chacon responded to a question about what a voter should do if they believe a particular vote is not being recorded properly by saying, “The voter should ensure, by reviewing the review page thoroughly, that all of the choices made by the voter are properly reflected on the review page prior to casting the vote.”

    “If it doesn’t appear to be accurate,” he continued, “the voter should go back to the page where that particular race appears and make certain their choice is properly selected.”

    Chacon explained that if the voter is not confident their vote is being accurately reflected by the machine, they should ask the election officials for assistance prior to actually casting the ballot. “Once the ballot has been cast by the machine, it cannot be reviewed or changed,” Chacon stated.

    Rep. Gonzales was eliminated from a runoff spot in the May 27th Primary Runoff election by 161 votes.

    Atty Martin Golando to Valde on 2014 Dem Primary 31714 by BreitbartTexas

    Letter From Rosendo Ross Beltran - Voting Machines by BreitbartTexas

    Letter From Candidates - March 4, 2014 Primary Elections by BreitbartTexas

    Letter From Hortencia (Tency) Martinez - Voting Machines by BreitbartTexas

  3. #3
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    May 2005
    Heart of Dixie
    Hidalgo County grand jury to hire forensic analyst for voting machines

    Posted: Thursday,
    March 27, 2014 7:30 pm

    Jacob Fischler

    EDINBURG — An Hidalgo County grand jury Thursday took a step toward investigating possible criminal tampering with voting machines in the recent Democratic primary, District Attorney Rene Guerra said.

    The grand jury signed an order to hire a forensic analyst to inspect the voting machines used during early voting in late February and Election Day on March 4.

    The order is “requesting that experts be hired to look at the machines and determine if they were properly functioning during the primary election,” Guerra said.

    “I think it’s necessary and I think we can do it real quick-like,” he added.

    The grand jurors turned in the order to the Hidalgo County District Clerk’s Office, Guerra said, though a chief administrator in that office said she could not locate it just before 5 p.m. Thursday. The order will be given to 430th state District Court Judge Israel Ramon, who was unavailable Thursday afternoon.
    Guerra hopes to meet with Ramon and 398th state District Court Judge Aida Salinas Flores on Friday morning to discuss whom the courts could hire, he said.

    Last week, Salinas Flores granted a request from Guerra’s office to impound the machines.

    The order comes two days after Hidalgo County commissioners decided to butt out of the investigation into potential malfunctioning or tampering with the voting machines.
    Six candidates who lost their primary races filed election challenges this week, alleging the elections were corrupted.
    One of those candidates lauded the grand jury’s decision Thursday as necessary for voter confidence.

    “Absolutely it’s a big deal,” said Paul Vazaldua, who ran for justice of the peace in Precinct 2 Place 2. “The focus of this is to give the voters piece of mind, to give the voters piece of mind that we have an election process that’s solid and full of integrity. And I think the only way we can do that is through a forensic analyst.”

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