From Sean Cockerham in Anchorage –
Update: 2:30 p.m.:
Note: I just received a response from the Division on Elections on the allegation by the Miller campaign. The division will be putting out a formal response with more detail, which I will post as soon as I receive a copy.
From Sean Cockerham in Anchorage –
Alaska Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai just told me a major part of the allegation against Murkowski elections consultant Mike Roman appears to be incorrect. Fenumiai said the information she has received from the Elections Division's Wasilla office is that Roman was not on the state computer with the Division of Elections voter database.
Fenumiai said Roman would not have been able compromise the state’s election management system regardless. “There is no GEMS server in the Wasilla office so there’s no way the state ballot tabulation system was compromised,” Fenumiai said.
Fenumiai said Roman was apparently texting in the ballot room, which is against the rules. He also tried to bring a bag into the room but that was not allowed, she said. Fenumiai said she is working on verifying the allegation that Roman wrote voter identification information in his observer handbook.
The Division of Elections confiscated the handbook so that should be easy enough to determine.
Anchorage lawyer Tom Van Flein, working for the campaign of Republican Senate challenger Joe Miller, is alleging possible vote tampering and asking for state troopers to be dispatched to all the regional elections offices.
The campaign of Sen. Lisa Murkowski disputed the assertions, and Murkowski issued a statement this afternoon saying she was "astounded" at his claims and calling on him to stop making them.
Van Flein (who is also Sarah Palin’s personal lawyer) is basing his complaint on the actions at the Mat-Su elections office of a Murkowski observer that he identifies as “Mike.” Van Flein writes in his complaint that “Mike” tried to bring a large bag into the room, against instructions, which Van Flein describes as a way to make ballots “disappear.”
Van Flein alleges Mike then insisted he had the right to access the Division of Elections voter database and “check voter records.” Van Flein says that, over the Miller campaign’s objection, Mike was allowed to use the state computer for 20 minutes before Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai ordered him off.
“For 20 minutes this Murkowski observer was in the state’s voter records viewing private information and, we are told, accessed the state’s election management system.”
Van Flein says in his complaint that the state’s Diebold voting software “contains vulnerabilities that may allow someone to install malicious software to discount votes.”
“How do we determine if software was not installed? Does this not require a hand count of ballots at this point or an IT audit to verify that no information was accessed, no software installed an no virus exists in the system,” Van Flein wrote.
Van Flein also alleges that “Mike” was texting inside the ballot room while reviewing voter information, which is against the rules, and was writing the information down when his Iphone battery died. Van Flein says the state then discovered voter identification information inside “Mike’s” observer handbook.
“Based on this information, which you can verify with your Division personnel…we urgently ask for your review and we ask that state Troopers be posted at each regional office until the ballots are secured,” Van Flein wrote in the complaint.
The complaint was addressed to Lt. Gov. Craig Campbell, who is in charge of overseeing elections, and to Alaska Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai.
I’ll ask the state Division of Elections and the Murkowski campaign how they respond to this complaint.
Update: 1 p.m.:
I just spoke to Murkowski campaign manager John Bitney.
He said the "Mike" referenced in the complaint is Mike Roman, an election consultant that the Murkowski campaign brought to Alaska. Roman is founder of Election Journal, which describes itself as an "online community dedicated to raising public awareness of vote fraud and election irregularities."
Bitney said Roman denies using a state computer at the elections office.
"He did use his Blackberry or whatever from inside the room and I've asked him not to do that again, but I would also point out that he violated that rule far less than (Miller lawyer) Thomas Van Flein did," Bitney said.
He said Roman wasn't texting voter information; he was texting to the Murkowski campaign about the issue he was raising with elections officials. He said Roman was asking officials how they validate signatures for people who voted questioned ballots outside of their home precincts. "Your signature verification is actually at the precinct where you should have been voting... he wanted to know how they validated the signatures."
Bitney said Roman told him that he wasn't writing voting information in his observer handbook. He said he was making a note of the "ballot sequence number," so that he could track where in the process the issue was raised.
I'm still waiting to hear what the Division of Elections says about all of this.
Update: 1:50 p.m.:
The Murkowski campaign has put out a statement to media under the heading "Sen. Murkowski Astounded with Miller’s False Claims":
Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) today called on Joe Miller to cease making accusations that an attorney from the National Republican Senatorial Committee and observers are attempting to skew the results of Alaska’s Primary Election. Miller has repeatedly accused Murkowski and the Republican Party of trying to steal the election.
“I believe in our nation’s democratic process, it’s the envy of the world. I have complete faith in our system and I am astounded that Mr. Miller continues to make blatantly false accusations that there is something nefarious happening. Observers from both sides are at regional election offices to ensure that Alaskans get a fair vote count. For someone who wants to be Alaska's Republican nominee for Senate, Mr. Miller is certainly afraid of Republicans," Senator Murkowski said.
Murkowski also commented on the confirmation today from the Alaskan Libertarian Party that there had been no contact or discussions between her campaign and the Libertarian Party.
"While I'm aware that Alaskans concerned about the future of our state are talking about a possible third-party candidacy, this talk is not coming from my campaign," Murkowski said. "I am focused on the remaining ballots and the final vote count. I would encourage Mr. Miller to do the same."