Michael Vu

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Family and early life

Election mentorship

Salt Lake elections

Cuyahoga County elections

San Diego elections


Corrupt election audits

Political connections

See also


External links

  • Mentorship by Mischelle Townsend in Riverside County CA
    • Black Box Voting, "Election family tree: Who got us into this and how did they meet each other?", 2006/02/17 (Discover Seattle forum repost) - BBV's investigation into the incestuous election official relationships involving Vu
      • "Two of the most ardent proponents of election secrecy and paperless voting, Los Angeles County Registrar of Elections Conny McCormack and former San Bernardino Registrar Scott Konopasek, appear to be practically brother and sister-in-law, yet we can't find that they have disclosed this.


        A recent obituary reported that a family included a son (Austin McCormack, Conny's husband) and Kathryn Konopasek, a daughter. Seeing this Dallas Morning News article, Riverside County activist Art Cassel contacted Black Box Voting. We found that Kathryn "Kate" Konopasek, Conny's sister-in-law, is married to Dean Konopasek. The name Konopasek is quite rare. Cassel found that Scott Konopasek, who now lives in Highland Calif., went to high school in Utah and attended Brigham Young University. Dean Konopasek, who now lives in Alaska, attended Utah State University around the same time. Black Box Voting found that no other family named Konopasek appears to have resided in Utah at any time. Circumstances do support the hypothesis that Dean and Scott are siblings, but we do not have documentation on that yet."
      • "When the King County general election in 2004 didn't pass the smell test, Konopasek's Forefront Election Solutions was suggested to "audit" the election. Forefront lost that deal to another enigmatic entity: The Election Center, run by R. Doug Lewis.

        While in Sacramento this week, BBV investigator Jim March pulled the corporate documents of Forefront Election Solutions. Currently, Scott Konopasek and his sidekick Stephen Trout are running the company. They launched it in 2004 when Konopasek was fired from his position in San Bernardino County."
      • "In July 2004, Konopasek admitted to BBV investigators that he has sometimes adjusted election data during elections. At the time, BBV investigators were asking if Konopasek knew of any reason that could cause vote totals to go down for a candidate in the middle of a count (which happened to Howard Dean, a candidate in the Democratic presidential primary, in March 2004 in Mohave County, AZ). Konopasek replied that this had happened under his watch in San Bernardino. He claimed that it was due to a need to "massage the data" between the tabulator and the voting machine, adding that the problem had been solved.

        This attracted the interest of Adam Cohen, a member of the New York Times editorial board, who -- unbeknownst to Konopasek -- happened to be observing the BBV investigators. He had been quietly sitting on a bench in the San Bernardino elections office while Konopasek made this surprising statement. Cohen immediately got up, made a notation, and asked for details. Cohen had joined Black Box Voting for the visit to San Bernardino, and Konopasek's admission ended up in the New York Times on Aug. 8, 2004."
      • "Before heading to San Bernardino, where Konopasek purchased Sequoia paperless touch-screens, Konopasek pushed paperless Sequoia touch-screens into Snohomish County (WA). Snohomish has since dropped the machines.

        Prior to Snohomish County, Konopasek was elections supervisor for Salt Lake County (UT), the location that also spawned paperless touch-screen advocate Michael Vu who is now Cuyahoga County (OH) director of elections.

        Vu became Salt Lake County elections supervisor not long after Konopasek left. At the age of 28, Vu took over mammoth Cuyahoga County (OH) elections. When visited by BBV investigators Bev Harris and Kathleen Wynne, Vu cited Riverside County (CA) registrar of elections Mischelle Townsend as his "mentor."

        Townsend, who resigned suddenly after a series of inquiries by local citizens, is listed on Konopasek's web site for Forefront Election Solutions as one of the consultants."
      • "Back to the paperless pitch people: Stephen Trout, who was Konopasek's sidekick in San Bernardino, had been with former Calif. Secretary of State Bill Jones. After his tenure as Secretary of State, Jones went on to pitch Sequoia touch-screens as a "consultant" for Sequoia. And if that wasn't fishy enough, when anti-paperless touch-screen Secretary of State Kevin Shelley took over in California, Trout left to help Konopasek get Sequoia paperless touch-screens into San Bernardino County."
      • "Conny Drake McCormack married Austin McCormack in Dallas, Texas. She had been in charge of jury pools, was then moved up to Supervisor of Elections in Dallas County, where she immediately got into hot water for allegedly disenfranchising minority voters by shorting them on ballots. BBV investigator Kathleen Wynne has obtained the court documents on that investigation, and she will be posting those soon.

        McCormack was subjected to a two-year investigation by the Texas attorney general's office for alleged election-rigging, in connection with the 1985 election of Dallas Mayor Starke Taylor (an interesting character in his own right; to finance development of property he was hoping to develop, pending a land use decision by city officials -- he was one of the officials -- he took out a loan with a savings and loan association that he also owned. He defaulted on his loan and the S&L went out of business. Then he sued the S&L for making bad loans.)

        The investigation in McCormack's alleged rigging of Starke Taylor's election was eventually dropped, after McCormack left the state of Texas to take a position in San Diego County, replacing Ray Ortiz. Together, MCormack and Ortiz had been leading a national association of elections officials when Ortiz was indicted on several counts of fraud. McCormack subsequently took Ortiz's position in San Diego. Ortiz went to work for a voting machine vendor."
        • Ray Ortiz background
          • Los Angeles Times, "Innovations Gained Ortiz Respect of Peers--and a Probe by D.A.", 1986/07/28: "Ortiz concedes that his knack for the unusual--and his belief that the private sector can do almost any job better, and cheaper, than the government--is probably what prompted a district attorney’s investigation of his office and the nearly $4 million in contracts awarded since Ortiz was hired to run the county’s elections in 1979. Ortiz has taken an unpaid leave of absence from his $54,000-a-year job until the investigation is complete. He said he intends to work in the meantime as a consultant on elections for a U.S. company that does business in Central and South America. [...] Ortiz’s relationship with several Chicago-area businesses since 1984 and two recent trips he took to the city are apparently at the center of the investigation. [...] In March, Ortiz and five of his employees went to Chicago on their own time for three days to observe that city’s municipal elections and to meet with contractors who either do work for San Diego County now or hope to do so in the future. Ortiz’s trip was paid for by a salesman employed by Pandick Midwest, a printing company interested in bidding on the lucrative contract for printing the county’s sample ballots. While he was in Chicago, Ortiz took tours of the company’s printing plant and spoke with several of the firm’s supervisors, Pandick President Bob Leuser said in an interview with The Times. Air fare for the five other employees was provided by Jeffries Banknote, the printer with the current contract for printing the county’s ballots, according to registrar’s spokeswoman Maggie Edwards. [...] The employees’ hotel bills and some of their meals were paid for by Lance Gough, who owns Election Management Co., a computer consulting firm that has done work for San Diego County. [...] Gough, who worked 10 years for the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, said he passed the expenses along to Jeffries Banknote. [...] On the same trip, Ortiz and his election workers went to St. Charles, Ill., a small town west of Chicago, to see the operation of Election Data Corp., a firm that supplies voting booklets, booths and other accessories to San Diego County. According to one county employee who was there, the day trip included lunch with Richard J. Stephens, president of Election Data and the recipient of a $117,000 contract in June for verifying local signatures on a statewide initiative petition. Six weeks after the first Chicago trip, Ortiz went to Chicago again, this time at the request of the Board of Elections. Board chairman Michael Lavelle said he invited Ortiz to Chicago to help him administer a heated special election in a heavily Latino ward. The board paid Ortiz’s travel expenses and paid him $300 a day for three days as a consultant. Lavelle said Ortiz played a key role in helping calm suspicions when it turned out that an unusually large number of voters had gone into the voting booths but then voted for both candidates or for neither on the single-race ballot. [...] “We were getting allegations that we had fixed the computer program to cause drop offs and votes for one candidate . . . " Lavelle said. [...] Lavelle, an attorney with 20 years experience in the election business, is president of Election Validation Services, a private firm that audits computerized vote-counting systems. The company has received more than $30,000 in business from Ortiz’s office in the past year. [...] Gary Greenhalgh, president of Elections Center Inc., a nonprofit group that sponsors training sessions for election administrators, said it is common for registrars to work closely with companies that sell election supplies or computer equipment. [...] “If they turn anything up, the question is was he compromised in his decision-making process? I don’t think so. I don’t think you can buy Ray Ortiz for any amount of money. I don’t think he’s that kind of guy.” [...] Greenhalgh said he ranks Ortiz among the top five of 13,000 election administrators in the country. [...] Ortiz left high school in 1953 to join the Army, and served with the 11th Airborne, a paratrooper unit. He was one of the first members of the Army’s Special Forces--the Green Berets--and went to Vietnam as a military adviser."
          • Los Angeles Times, "Ray Ortiz Says D.A.'s Probe Is Still a Mystery to Him", 1986/08/19: "Ortiz and his attorney, Merle Schneidewind, said at an afternoon press conference that they believe the district attorney’s searches on Aug. 1 of Ortiz’s home and the home of a couple who do business with the county have turned up no evidence of wrongdoing. [...] Ortiz said he does not know what the district attorney hoped to learn by seizing his checkbooks, a scrapbook, financial records, the combination to a post office box, a briefcase containing financial files, and his driver’s license in a search of his Fletcher Hills home. Similar items were taken in a search of the Escondido home of Richard and Lora Stephens, owners of Election Data Corp., which has done more than $300,000 in business with the registrar’s office. Also searched was the home of Maria Caldera of Chula Vista, a longtime friend of Ortiz who has worked for the registrar’s office and as a consultant for Jeffries Banknote Co. of Los Angeles, which prints the sample ballots sent to San Diego County voters before each election. [...] While on leave from the county, Ortiz is working as a consultant for R.P. Shoupe Co., a Pennsylvania firm that manufactures electronic voting machines and other election equipment."
          • Los Angeles Times, "Ortiz Quits as Registrar in Wake of Allegations From Criminal Probe", 1986/08/21: "Ortiz’s resignation came one day after a Superior Court judge released documents showing that the district attorney’s office was probing allegations of embezzlement, grand theft and presenting false claims involving Ortiz and several of his friends and associates. According to the affidavit, filed in support of a warrant to search Ortiz’s home and other locations, Ortiz ordered a private company doing business with his office to make payments to a friend of his, then recover the money by falsifying bills submitted to the county. One of the payments was signed over to Ortiz by his friend and deposited in Ortiz’s credit union account. The court papers also showed that a district attorney’s investigator believed Ortiz may have steered more than $400,000 in contracts to an Escondido company owned by another close friend of the registrar. The affidavit said Ortiz used “misleading information, collusion and favoritism” to guide the contracts to Election Data Corp. [...] Ortiz was en route Wednesday to Pennsylvania, where he is to begin work immediately as a consultant to R.F. Shoup Co., a manufacturer of electronic voting equipment. Company President Ransom Shoup said in an interview that this week’s developments will not affect his firm’s relationship with Ortiz. “We feel Ray is a very honorable man,” Shoup said."
    • Black Box Voting, "Trouble seeks trouble - King County elections chief goes to Los Angeles", 2006/06/13 - has a "Gotta Be Replaced" list by BBV involving Vu and his mentors
      • "Mischelle Townsend: (Riverside County, CA) - After a contentious stint as Registrar of Elections in Riverside County, where Townsend brought in Sequoia paperless touch-screens, shared a public relations company with Sequoia, appeared in commercials for Sequoia, and allowed Sequoia technicians intimate access to her voting system during live elections, Townsend resigned. She took a position with Konopasek's consulting firm to make it Konopasek, Trout and Townsend."
      • "We know that the history of vote-rigging especially targeted certain local elected positions -- those like commissioner/supervisor/alderman that control construction, land use, zoning, and award contracts. That's where the money flows, therein lies the traditional bribery train.

        Another position typically targeted is the county sheriff's position -- that position controls contraband (drugs, guns) and also signs off on the traffic studies needed to get zoning approval for land use projects."
  • Election Center connection
  • Information on Vu as a keynote speaker for a 2014 conference in San Diego (by the League of Women Voters)