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Why I’m Watching Dominion Voting Systems v. Fox News

Dominion Voting Systems logo

update: The case was settled out-of-court at 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday, just after the story was posted. Title should now read, “Why I Wanted To Watch Dominion Voting Systems v. Fox”

I have to admit. This one hits close to home.

The $1.6 billion defamation case brought by Dominion Voting Systems against Fox News has the attention of a wide swath of the media and the political class. Can’t say the same for the viewers of the right-wing TV network.

But why should I devote the next six weeks to the case? Why do I currently have a link to a live blog covering the case? What’s wrong with me?

Nothing.

I used to serve as an election director.

In Pennsylvania.

In a county that used Dominion Voting Systems.

I joined the county in January 2020 which, for my money, is a date that will live in infamy.

A brand-new election director walks into a job and finds his assistant director taking a medical leave just two months into his tenure. A week later, COVID shuts down much of the country. Our April presidential primary – the first to use mail-in voting under Act 77 – is pushed back again and again and finally is scheduled for June. I recall our office processing over 40,000 mail ballot requests for that primary alone.

Our county was one of a handful in the state to utilize Dominion Voting Systems. The software assisted our office with election support that was needed in an understaffed office. Dominion software helped set up the election, laying out the ballot, and testing the system. The staff provided training, preventative maintenance, project management and ongoing consulting.

On Election Day, Dominion personnel were onsite to assist us with any problems that might occur and able to lend a hand and an ear for questions we all had.

In short, they were a trusted partner.

In our county, we had 245 voting machines for 160+ precincts. Each machine went through a strenuous logic and accuracy test prior to being placed in the field. This L&A testing is a collection of pre-election procedures that insure that the voting equipment and ballots to be used in an upcoming election can properly display the ballot, collect votes, and tabulate results.

It is important to note that none of these machines – I repeat, none – are connected to the Internet. Each machine has a card that records the votes from each precinct and that stick is returned to each county election office for tabulation.

Why am I reciting this? Because my integrity – and that of my colleagues in elections – has been challenged by Fox News and the rest of the so-called election deniers.

Elections are decentralized for a reason. Pause for a second and realize what would have to take place for “votes to be flipped” by software. In Pennsylvania alone, there are 67 counties that tabulate votes with thousands of separate precincts. There are numerous election software systems used throughout the Commonwealth.

Twelve counties currently use Dominion: Armstrong, Bedford, Carbon, Clarion, Crawford, Erie, Fayette, Jefferson, Luzerne, Montgomery, Pike and York.

Twenty-seven counties use ES&S ExpressVote 2.1, including Allegheny, Centre, Chester and Lehigh counties. Cumberland, Northampton and Philadelphia use ES&S ExpressVote XL. Delaware, Fulton and Lancaster counties use Hart Verity. You get the idea.

If you are counting along, that’s 55 counties in the Keystone State that do not use Dominion. That means only 12 counties were in on the “fix.”

Really?

After spending nearly 24 straight hours on Election Day 2020 compiling tallies from around the county, I happily accepted the task of provisional ballots – you know, the ones that have to be reviewed and approved to be counted. Our county had 8,000 provisional ballots to review.

To understand, it takes a minimum of one minute to properly review everything that goes into approving or rejecting provisional ballots. So, let’s do some math.

If I spent every minute of an eight-hour workday with no breaks, I could complete a maximum of 480 provisionals in a work day. With my four-person team, we could finish 1,920 provisionals in a work day – provided we did nothing else. Nothing.

Of course, we went more than eight hours at a time and were able to finish the task in four days. But by the time we were complete, we were just happy to submit the numbers to the Department of State and be done.

That’s when the challenges to our integrity started.

Election directors are challenged every day by someone who believes that they are compromised in some way, shape or form. You belong to this party … your family put up a yard sign for a particular candidate … you don’t have the proper background.

You’re partial to the other side.

My response is a simple one and it comes from the backside of a bull.

I hold the people I worked with in this county election office in the highest regard for honesty, integrity and work ethic. The clerks that are charged with registering voters into the Statewide Registry of Uniform Electors (SURE) … the ones charged with making sure your name is in the pollbook or is on the mailing list … make $12-15 per hour. I was told more than once that they could make more at Wal-Mart.

They’re right.

The salaried staff did yeomen’s work between precanvassing mail ballots beginning at 7 a.m. on Election Day to dealing with issues for judges of election, poll workers or machine operators. They organized the drop-off for mail ballots in front of the county courthouse, as well as for judges to return at the conclusion of the night with memory sticks and provisional ballots.

The IT staff was top-notch, assisting with everything from scanning to preparing for the count. It was a team effort.

Yet, those who refused to accept the outcome of the election – primarily the presidential election – deemed it appropriate to challenge the work of each and everyone of us. That we were somehow in cahoots with Dominion or anyone on the other side. Rather than just public servants doing the job to the best of our ability.

County residents began questioning us for the use of Dominion Voting Systems. Now it was not just the national talking heads calling us out … it was the locals as well.

On January 6, 2021, I sat in my office with coworkers and watched in horror at the events at the U.S. Capitol. Events that were triggered at the very beginning by the denial of election results and the work that we did.

I stayed in elections for another cycle, concluding my tenure in January 2022. I’ve seen too many colleagues leave their positions – some by choice, many by someone else’s decision.

I have stories to tell and remember fondly, for the most part, the people I met along the way.

Good people. Folks who just want to do good. Public servants in the best sense of the word.

So, yeah. I’m watching the Dominion case against Fox News.

Maybe, just maybe, the real story will come out. That election denialism was good for business, but not for truth-telling.

I, for one, am proud of the work we did. And wouldn’t change a thing.

One Response

  1. It was a sea change in terms of the media being taught a lesson. For years the saying, “You can’t argue with people who buy ink by the barrel” was an axiom that people lived by. Fox took it too far and their own emails and settlement proved there are boundaries to dismissing truthfulness.





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