Greg Diaz: Ensuring secure elections

I received this column from Gregory J. Diaz, the Nevada County clerk-recorder and registrar of voters:

“I was appointed Nevada County clerk-recorder in 2007 by the Nevada County Board of Supervisors. Subsequently, I thank the voters for demonstrating their confidence in me by returning me to office in the past three statewide primary elections. I pledge to continue to manage the offices of clerk-recorder and registrar of voters to benefit all our citizens.

“The security of Nevada County voting and our voting systems is a top priority for me. Election security preparedness is my major concern every day, not just when there is an impending election.

“We constantly review and refine our voting procedures and practices, including chain of custody procedures, seals and logs pre-election, on election day and post-election. Risk management practices and controls, including the physical handling and storage of voting equipment and ballots, are important elements of our work.

“The goal is to deliver a process that is not only safe and secure, but also fair, accurate and accessible.

“Our electoral process is not a single, hackable system. There is no central U.S. voter database. A national hacking of the June election is highly improbable due to our unique, decentralized process. Our system is diverse, subject to local control and has many checks and balances.

“Each state and locality conducts its own system of voting, developing standards and security requirements for equipment and software.

“Furthermore, no component of our voting system is connected to the internet. Our in-precinct scanners, electronic voting machines, electronic rosters, tally machines, on-demand ballot generation, central scanners, electronic signature verification and reporting systems are not internet-based and do not connect to each other online.

“Before each election, we publicly conduct logic and accuracy testing of our voting machines to ensure they are working and tabulating properly. The machines are then predefined under supervision, sealed and accounted for until election day to prevent tampering.

“After the election, we conduct a canvass that includes a review of the vote tally, conditional ballots, provisional ballots and a mandated post-election audit.

“All of our voting machines have triple redundancy: paper ballots, hard drive and memory card. Our electronic machines all have a voter-verified paper audit trail. The canvass process is designed to further guard against deliberate manipulation of the election, as well as software, hardware or programming problems.

“There is no evidence that all-mailed ballot elections result in rampant voter fraud, nor that election officials lack the knowledge about how to protect against abuses.

“Voter fraud includes voter impersonation, voters registering in multiple states and voting multiple times and when those who are not allowed to vote under the law do so anyway — noncitizens or, in some states, convicted felons. The key to voter fraud is intent. Fraud occurs when someone knowingly breaks the rules.

“The very conservative Heritage Foundation maintains an online database of voter fraud cases in the United States. Over the past 20 years, approximately 250 million votes have been cast by a mail ballot nationally. The Heritage Foundation found 143 cases of fraud using mailed ballots that resulted in criminal convictions in that time.

“Let’s put that in perspective: 143 cases of fraud using mailed ballots over 20 years means that across the 50 states, there has been an average of three cases per state. That is just one case per state every six or seven years.

“We are talking about an occurrence that translates to about 0.00006% of all mail ballots cast. It’s ironic that the data compiled by the Heritage Foundation actually undermines its claim of widespread voter fraud.

“No wonder voter fraud, as previously defined, is so rare when it comes to mail ballots. The bad actor would have to mimic everything perfectly from the ballot’s size, style, weight, envelopes, bar codes and signature of a registered voter, to name a few elements of our processes. Please be assured our processes using a mix of human oversight and technology serve the voters of Nevada County well.

“Voters can be assured that a forensic audit is not necessary. In California, there are laws and procedures already in place to ensure the security of our voting systems.

“All voting machines are tested and certified by the secretary of state using some of the strictest standards in the United States. This includes prohibiting any ability to connect to machines remotely or to connect machines to the internet.

“California uses an independent third party to conduct source code review and evaluation, hardware and software security penetration testing, and operational testing to validate system performance and functioning under normal and abnormal conditions. The independent third party must be a state-approved testing authority and must follow strict chain of custody requirements, including personnel requirements, that protect source codes from breaches. This process allows California officials to identify any vulnerabilities and prevent anything from happening to our elections in the first place.

“All ballots are cast on official paper. Counties use special water-marked paper to print ballots. The watermark is assigned by the secretary of state each election. Official ballot paper may only be provided by a vendor certified by the state. Mail and print vendors must also follow strict requirements ensuring the chain of custody and security of ballot paper.

“Post election, counties reconcile ballots with voter records to ensure one person, one vote. This is called the election canvass. Part of the canvass requires election officials to conduct a hand tally of 1% of ballots cast to ensure the results reflect the votes. The ballots are randomly selected for the tally, are hand counted and matched against the machine count. The election cannot be certified until the hand count and the machine count match 100%.

“Voters can see the proof for themselves. The entire election process is open to the public for observation. From vote centers and drop boxes, to the vote count and post-election audit — any member of the public can observe.

“My commitment to ensure the integrity of the election process remains my No. 1 priority. Our office staff is committed to providing the best possible service to you, the voters of Nevada County. Together, we ensure the election is fair, accurate and administered with the utmost integrity.

“We take election fraud seriously. If you have evidence that election fraud occurred, tell us. Our office will examine the evidence and provide it to law enforcement.

“Here’s another small thought that has nagged me over the years: Why would someone risk trying to violate our voting system? Nearly impossible to do, and then there are those penalties — including jail time. Not worthwhile, seems to me.”

Hawaii Calls!

We are having an excellent adventure in Honolulu to celebrate our “30-something” (31, we figure) wedding anniversary.

We have enjoyed so many trips here, including one where we circled the Big Island in a rental car, camping at oceanfront state parks for a glorious week.

This time, we are celebrating in POSH fashion, 19 floors above Waikiki Beach and the Pacific Ocean in a deluxe condo. The two balconies have sweeping views of the ocean and the Ali Wai Harbor.

We can see the sailboat owners scurrying around on the docks, as well as outrigger canoes heading out to sea.

The sunsets are spectacular.

Thanks to the time difference, we can watch the Giants’ baseball games at breakfast while glancing at the ocean.

When we wake up, it’s mid-afternoon on the East Coast, where our son is at college. But we’ve managed to connect without interrupting his dinner hour. Ha!

We’re enjoying fresh Hawaiian fish from the Tamashiro Fish Market and fresh vegetables grown on the island.

The ocean is inviting – “70-something” degrees. At sunset we can hear musicians performing Hawaiian music on the beach.

It is not crowded, which is ideal. The downside is that Hawaii’s economy is still suffering from the fallout from COVID-19.

Years ago, we contemplated relocating to the Islands from California. But the schools weren’t great, so we dropped the idea.

As for now, we’re just thrilled to be visiting.

A room with a view.

Netflix says it will eventually charge more if you share your account

“In light of Netflix’s concerning subscriber losses, the company announced (yesterday) during its first-quarter earnings call that it will expand its test that charges members a higher price if they’re engaged in account sharing with people outside their household. The company first began testing the feature in March in Chile, Costa Rica and Peru, but now says it plans to implement the solution in global markets, including the U.S., in around a year’s time.

“The streamer clarified it will need to continue to iterate on the feature for roughly a year or so, to make sure it gets the balance right in terms of how much extra to charge subscribers who have shared their Netflix account with other users outside their own household.”

The rest of the article is here.