Sunday, November 16, 2008

Minnesota Governor Pawlenty No Evidence Ballots In Judge's Trunk

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty made the comment on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace host...

But he gave no indication as reported here the military and foreign-living citizens absentee ballots amounting to some 32 were not delivered in time (4 were reportedly according to Brauer's report delivered to a precinct/s but 'accidentally uncounted) to the local Minnesota precinct/s in order to be counted there. The ballots were in the trunk of the car of the official ballot delivery designees, according to Brauer's article, those being known as Precinct Support Judges.

Here is election law which may be helpful to determine what happens if ballots are not able to be delivered.

The Bradblog headlines
Blogged by Brad Friedman on 11/13/2008 4:13PM
Debunked: Republican's '32 Franken Ballots in a Car' Story is Complete Nonsense, Never Happened

The Bradblog links to a MinnPost article by David Brauer, Minneapolis election director speaks: 'Ballots in my car' story false
which while setting the record straight about the Judge's involvement, none, in fact informs 32 ballots were in an official transport vehicle.

Brauer reports within a few paragraphs of his more editorialized opening:

OK, so were the ballots ever in a car?

Yes. But stow the outrage until you hear the details.

Stow the outrage? Sure we will.

The only parts of the initial story so far shown in error were:

all 32 ballots were later counted as Franken votes
32 ballots were in the Director of Election's (Reichert) car trunk overnight
32 ballots were in the Reichert's car trunk for several days
32 ballots were in the Reichert's car

Brauer's report uses the specific terminology:

“precinct support judges”

Note, the ballots were in a judge's car - we don't get the info where exactly - in a trunk - in separate folders in a box - and if this was a vehicle supplied by the county, or was a personal vehicle authorized to be used for transportation of ballots. It is reported the vehicles are transport vehicles authorized for use that day.

The Brauer report linked from the Bradblog did not specify who else other than a "Precinct Support Judge" was on hand at all times while the 32 paper ballots were being transported from central to the precinct, and finding the precinct unavailable to handle the absentees transported the ballots back to City Hall.

The author does give us a glimpse of what happened:

Driving the ballots
The drivers went out about 7:30 p.m. Reichert soon heard from some who were worried they might not get to every precinct before closing. Once a precinct judge removes a tallying machine memory card, votes can no longer be counted there.

Reichert says she sent a broadcast message to each precinct’s lead judge to keep sites open, but not everyone received it. Some less-busy sites shut down before the drivers got there.

In accordance with longstanding procedures, the couriers immediately brought the uncounted, unopened ballots — 28 of the now-famous 32 — back to City Hall, where they were stored in a secure room.

(The other four ballots were accidentally unprocessed in the precincts, and were also returned that night to the same place.)

So: The ballots were in cars because state law mandates precinct counting. An election judge always had custody, and they were never “lost.” They were not in vehicles overnight and spent Election Night, and the next several nights, tucked away safely in City Hall.

Now that is quite a lot of info. But note, Brauer says 'an election judge always had custody, and they were never "lost."

The article informs that an official (Reichert) said she doesn't know how the Coleman attorney got certain facts wrong, but she admits to all 'being really tired' on Thursday.

Did Reichert use the word “lost” when talking to Coleman’s forces? “No!” she exclaims.

What about "car"?

She laughs. “I don’t know. We were all really tired on Thursday. I’ve been wracking my brain trying to recall what I said that made them think this. I talked to their attorney Friday night, explained this whole situation.”

Brauer also reports: (The other four ballots were accidentally unprocessed in the precincts, and were also returned that night to the same place.)

Yet Brauer remains absolutely mum about how these 4 ballots made it to a Precinct although they were accidentally "uncounted" in the precinct/s.

He also seems uncurious about which precincts were on the listing for delivery of a mere only 32 ballots. Was it 2 precincts, 15 precincts? Wouldn't it be easier for the central election bureau director to call or otherwise confirm a don't close directive to a half-dozen precincts at the time of knowledge of which absentee ballots might be about to be delivered over the next hour or possibly longer, necessitating the precinct judge to keep operations for handling those open until arrival and processing?

It became clear after reading that one line, these 32 ballots were not intended for only one precinct, but were intended potentially for several precincts, but we don't know from the information supplied whether any precincts were of a distance too far away to be delivered that night and how it happened, according to Reichert,

Reichert says she sent a broadcast message to each precinct’s lead judge to keep sites open, but not everyone received it. Some less-busy sites shut down before the drivers got there.

Re-reading that several time, why is the term less-busy sites shut down used here?

Does this mean potentially less-busy sites closed down a few minutes earlier than 8 PM, or the process for shutting down began earlier than 8 pm and couldn't be reversed? the chronology becomes very important, but the reporter doesn't seem interested in how precisely it came to be that only 28 (after subtracting the 4 that were delivered somewhere in the county but accidentally uncounted) military/overseas voters absentees were unable to be accepted at the polling place for delivery before or by 8 PM?

He can't ask Reichert to provide details how exactly were judges 'broadcast' a message, a message that wasn't received and how that came to be if the message was sent BEFORE the 8 PM official closing?

What's also puzzling, were the Precinct Judges not informed of the transport of other absentee ballots which had to be dealt with at the Precinct? How many absentees were delivered that day before the cutoff of 8 PM, and how many were expected by precinct judges to be delivered?

do these people not have open lines at all times in expectation of problems, breakdowns of machines, emergency replacement scanners, and the like?

The central election director, Reichert couldn't contact all the affected precinct judge's, notifying of delays in transport of absentees? Why couldn't she contact all. There were only 32 ballots! 4 made it 'somewhere.' Where were the other 28 supposed to go? an hour's drive away?

Again, use of the term less-busy sites just invites speculation that potentially less-busy sites may have started a close-down procedure prior to 8 PM that couldn't be reversed.

Seriously, this is not a minor problem, what if there were some amount of ballots in this category that could change the outcome of the entire state's election, say some 2000 outstanding military/absentee ballots that might affect the outcome of a close presidential contest?

Regardless however of how the ballots came to be uncounted as intended and according to the law on election night, after the fact, who can ever prove these are the same ballots as submitted by absentee voters as named and identified.

Who can guarantee the ballots that arrived at the central warehouse were indeed the same ballots sent in by the absentee voters? Everyone's answer should be the same. Nobody.

Governor Pawlenty also retracted his earlier statement made on Fox News that there was suspicion about ballots found in a Judge's car trunk.

He shouldn't have gone that far. While it's erroneous to continue to say absentee ballots were lost, or found, the reported fact is some amount of 32 ballots (minus 4) were in Precinct Support Judge or Judges vehicles?

We don't even have the information exactly how many vehicles were delivering these 32 absentee ballots.

Nobody seems concerned that once these ballots and other paper ballots are put in the mix of all the ballots to be re-counted in late November for the Senate race recount, that is it. One or 2 more votes for Franken over Coleman and the race is over.

Here's what has happened so far in a preliminary audit count in Ramsey County

Net the Truth Online

Fritz Knaak, counsel for U.S. Senator Norm Coleman’s campaign, had a press conference at 2:00 p.m. today to talk about hearing that was held earlier today about recently found absentee ballots in Hennepin County.

“The request from Coleman’s campaign said Minneapolis elections director Cynthia Reichert called its office at 7:45 p.m. Friday and reported that 32 ballots had been found and would be counted the next morning.

‘We were actually told they had been riding around in her car for several days, which raised all kinds of integrity questions,’ said Coleman’s attorney, Fritz Knaak.

Gearin denied the campaign’s request to stop the count for an investigation of the ballots’ history because the court does not have jurisdiction until the vote total is final and an official contest of the result has made, Knaak said.” Source: Associated Press, November 8, 2008

Click here for the complete story.


“On Friday night the director of elections for the city of Minneapolis, Cynthia Reichhert, told the attorney for the Coleman campaign, Tony Trimble, that she was in possession of 32 absentee ballots that she intended to ‘open and count’ today, according to the request filed by the Coleman campaign.

The integrity of these ballot(s) is in serious doubt,’ the Coleman campaign’s request said.” Source: Pioneer Press, November 8, 2008

The issue is important because Al Franken's campaign has said that some absentee ballots were unfairly rejected. The campaign filed a lawsuit in Ramsey County asking for a list of names from those who had their absentee ballots rejected.

Ramsey County said the information is private data, but there has been some disagreement even among elections officials as to whether that information is public or private. Gary Poser, the Elections Director for the Secretary of State's office, said he told some county elections officials the information is public.

Post-election audit suggests good news for Franken

An examination of 28 of the 202 precincts statewide that were randomly selected for the Minnesota's post-election audit showed that Franken picked up 6 votes, while Coleman lost one. If this pattern holds in the full recount of 4,130 precincts, Franken may come out ahead. The article also discusses a theory that Democrats generally increase their totals disproportionately in recounts because the voters who are more likely to vote for them tend to have difficulty voting, and their intent can often only be discerned by "eyeballing" their ballots (see also here).

(AP) St. Louis County keeps election ballots in the courthouse attic. Anoka County keeps them locked in the basement. Hennepin County relies on its cities to keep ballots safe.

The lack of a uniform standard for counties safeguarding ballots after the election could come into play when those votes are recounted in Minnesota's U.S. Senate race. Click here for the latest count)

The campaigns have been negotiating neutral standards for ballot security after an unsuccessful court challenge Saturday by Republican incumbent Norm Coleman to halt the counting of 32 absentee ballots from Minneapolis. Coleman's campaign questioned the ballots' legitimacy, saying it was told the ballots had been left for several days in the car of a Minneapolis election official.

A city spokesman said the ballots were never unaccounted for, and the Coleman campaign later said it accepted those assurances. But with Coleman and Democrat Al Franken separated by a little more than 200 votes out of nearly 3 million cast, ballot integrity remains an issue.

The official recount process begins Wednesday, Nov. 19, and it will be Ritchie's job to ensure that it is a fair one. But his ties to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) -- which has repeatedly been accused of voter fraud across the country -- and his reputation for engaging in highly partisan politics have raised concerns among Republicans.

During his 2006 bid for secretary of state, Ritchie was endorsed by the Minnesota ACORN Political Action Committee, and he received political contributions from them.

And his election victory was made possible, in part, by a nationwide partisan effort -- with the help of the Secretary of State Project (SOS), an independent 527 group co-founded by former leader James Rucker.

On Wednesday, Ritchie chose a canvassing board that includes himself, two state Supreme Court justices appointed by Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty, and two district court judges.

The board -- which will certify vote totals and settle differences over disputed ballots once local officials complete their recount -- will be "extraordinarily nonpartisan," Ritchie said.

Meanwhile . . . Ritchie also lashed out at bad information and its proliferation.

The bad info: At a news conference this afternoon, Ritchie specifically mentioned the allegations – first shot down by MinnPost’s David Brauer – that some Minneapolis ballots were lost in an election official’s car.

Then, there is the second allegation – now discredited – from the Al Franken campaign that an absentee ballot in Beltrami County was rejected.

“I’m very unhappy when local election officials are smeared,’’ Ritchie said in a news conference this afternoon. And he went on to say when such allegations get regurgitated in the news media the world learns about Minnesota.

“It does reflect negatively on our tradition, our culture, our history, our heritage,” he said.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty mentioned the alleged Minneapolis ballots on national television after the MinnPost report. Ritchie said he sent a note to the governor – contents undisclosed – but also praised Pawlenty for adding on Fox News that Minnesota’s electoral process is impeccable.

Now, we have absentee ballots hanging around in a judges car.

Pragmatist Nov. 9

Which precincts in the state of Minnesota close before 8 pm, CST? I know you feel that this is nothing out of the ordinary, and that it has happened in the past. If this has happened in the past, there needs to be even more outrage. I am glad you are willing to wait to cast judgment, but I see no excuse whatsoever for Friday. If there was a mix-up, Wednesday morning should be the minimum standard acceptable. As an election judge, do you get to take ballots home for three days, then turn them in only when the election is close and they might make a difference? This isn't about Norm and Al, this is about making sure our votes matter.

Memo To Minnesotans: This Is How Ballots Should Be Handled
Comments (10) | Full Version | Back
Rob - 11:11am on 11/10/2008
Today while guest hosting the Scott Hennen Show I spoke with Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie about some allegedly mishandled ballots in the Coleman vs. Franken race. On the air, Ritchie essentially accused me playing partisan politics when I brought up reports of 32 ballots (yes, this election is close enough to be decided by those few ballots) being “lost” in the car of a Democrat election official. But it’s worth noting that the incident was reported on in a Duluth newspaper:

ST. PAUL — Sen. Norm Coleman failed Saturday in an attempt to block 32 absentee ballots from Hennepin County from being counted in his close race with Democrat Al Franken.

Coleman’s campaign asked Ramsey County Chief Judge Kathleen Gearin to issue a temporary restraining order regarding the counting of ballots it said had not been counted on Election Day or been kept in sealed ballot boxes. Gearin said Saturday she denied the request for lack of jurisdiction. . . .

The request from Coleman’s campaign said Minneapolis elections director Cynthia Reichert [a Democrat] called its office at 7:45 p.m. Friday and reported that 32 ballots had been found and would be counted the next morning.

“We were actually told they had been riding around in her car for several days, which raised all kinds of integrity questions,” said Coleman’s attorney, Fritz Knaak.

Ritchie claimed that this allegation had been thrown out of court, but near as I can tell the judge simply ruled that these ballots should be included despite the fact that they’d been lost in someone’s car for a couple of days.

During the show, I also got this detailed accounting of how ballots are handled in North Dakota elections:

Let me say up front that I don’t know how it’s done in Minnesota, but it can’t be much different from ND. As an occasional poll worker (North Dakota) I can’t see how any ballots (even absentee) could ever be ‘loose’ in anyone’s car at any time. Election materials (ballots, sample ballots, absentee ballots, pens etc) arrive at the polling location as a “bundle”. When the polls close all ballots (from the boxes) are counted then the absentee ballots are counted (even the unused ballots are counted). It all has to add up. The ballots are then wrapped in brown paper, tied, then sealed with a hot wax seal. Any ‘spoiled’ ballots are also wrapped seperately and sealed. The judge of the election then delivers it all to the auditors office where it’s all counted again. As I have said ALL ballots are wrapped and sealed then ‘checked in’. There’s no way ballots can be loose and unaccounted for for that long.

Something stinks about the way these ballots were counted, and I don’t think Secretary Ritchie is doing anyone any favors by discounting concerns over these ballots.

November 15, 2008
Close Vote Breeds Hostility in Minnesota Senate Race
By CHRISTINA CAPECCHIOverlooked absentee ballots have favored Mr. Franken. For example, 55 absentee ballots from Ramsey County were not added until Nov. 5, with 33 going to Mr. Franken, county election officials said. ..

More than 3 million voters are on the rolls in Minnesota. Polls are open until 8 p.m. tonight.

Why Al Franken Will be Minnesota's Next Senator
By Scott Rafferty, AlterNet. Posted November 12, 2008.

Minnesota's system is pretty close to the ideal. The precinct counter warns voters if it reads more than one vote for a single office (known as an overvote). This is usually human error, and the voter has a chance to correct it (or to choose to reinsert his or her ballot, in which case the machine will count the unaffected races). In some areas, precinct scanners also warn voters if they fail to vote for every office, but most Minnesota counties do not use this setting. Because it allows voters to correct many human errors, the precinct counters are more reliable than paper alone.

There is also a strong tradition in Minnesota that every vote counts. Any discernable mark is counted as evidence of voter intent. Minnesota courts don't blame voters if election officials made a mistake in keeping the ballots in less than ideally secure locations; they require evidence of actual fraud. And Minnesota ballots are pretty straightforward, on a single page without the design flaws that confused so many voters in the 2006 congressional election in Sarasota, Fla. There were thousands of undervotes in that close contest, mostly from Democratic-majority areas.

The largest source of error is going to be human error -- marks that the machine cannot be expected to recognize. The voter crosses out one oval and fills in another. The machine sees an overvote, but the hand canvass counts the vote correctly. When the voter circles the candidate, or uses a check mark, or doesn't fill in the entire oval, the machine sees no vote at all, but again, the hand canvass registers the vote.

Since 2000, seven out of seven peer-reviewed academic studies confirm that Democrats tend to make more mistakes than Republicans. The populations that are, in academic jargon, "vulnerable to error" are low-income, low-educated and minority, all of which disproportionately vote Democratic.

Press reports from Minnesota emphasize that there were 24,100 more votes for president than for senator in last week’s election, and note that these come from "Obama counties." Further analysis will likely show that most come from Democratic precincts. This is consistent with the fact that low-income and minority voters tend to live in the same areas.

This is not the correct way to measure the unintentional undervote. The undervote is larger than the dropoff between president and senator, since some voters may not have votes counted for either office. When the Senate vote is subtracted from the total number of ballots cast, the undervote rises to 34,916. One analysis looks at this undervote by precinct and then allocates it between Norm Coleman and Franken according to the precinct vote, resulting in a net Franken gain of 1,769.

But that overestimates the error, because the vast majority of the undervote is an intentional abstention from the Senate race. Here, historical data is no guide, since how many voters deliberately abstain depends on the particular race. But the last polls before Election Day showed an unusually low percentage of undecided, most of them liberals, so the level of abstentions should also be low. If just 8 percent of the undervote results from defective marks, Franken moves ahead.

Next, there is machine error -- the machine fails to read a clear mark. The dominant machine, ES&S Model 100, may be the most reliable optical scanner, but Ramsey County's director of elections claims it has an error rate of 0.2 percent. (St. Paul is in Ramsey County.) This can result from jamming, which more frequently occurs on heavily used machines in urban areas, so the hand count can be expected again to yield a disproportionate number of additional votes for Franken. At this rate, there will be 4,900 additional votes, which could result in a net gain for Franken of 268 votes in the five most populous counties alone.'s_next_senator/

Conspiracy theories aside, our imperfect system of paper ballots and scanning technology with recounts by hand is just not set up well for elections this close. Even an error of just one vote tabulating every 10,000 recounted will yield a difference of 240 votes when counters are sifting through 2.4 million ballots. Are you confident you could work your way through 10,000 ballots without making a single mistake? I sometimes have difficulty double checking my change when I purchase something. Yet I don’t think many of us at this point want to shift our elections completely over to computers. All it would take would be one really good hacker or one really bad virus to make Joe the Plumber the president of the United States. No thanks!

Now Ramsey County is looking at ACORN over vote cards
Nearly half of the 800 given to county were held too long.

Last update: October 18, 2008 - 9:17 PM

“There's one more critical statistic: About 8,900 people weren't recorded as voting for president, according to county-by-county turnout estimates kept by the Secretary of State's Office,” the AP report said.

“That nearly 9,000 people would skip the closely watched race is questionable, raising the possibility that as many as 33,700 ballots might be subject to change in a hand recount. What recount teams will be looking for is whether stray or light marks on ballots signaled a voter's preference.”

Electronic Voting Machines

One explanation, which was dismissed by Ritchie and other Minnesota election officials last week, is that the type of voting machine used in nearly all of the counties in Minnesota have been found to have failed accuracy tests.

According to an Oct. 24 letter sent to the federal Election Assistance Commission (EAC), Ruth Johnson, the Oakland County Clerk/Register of Deeds, warned that tabulating software in Election Systems & Software M-100 optical scan voting machines recorded “conflicting” vote counts during testing in her state.

Minnesota voters’ uses optical scan ballots that voters mark by hand. As first reported by The Public Record Wednesday, ES&S;'s M-100 optical scan voting was used in Minnesota counties and in more than a dozen other states on Election Day.

Johnson, the Oakland County Clerk, said in her letter last week to the EAC that the M-100 voting machines used in four communities Tuesday “reported inconsistent vote totals during their logic and accuracy testing.”

“The same ballots run through the same machines, yielded different results each time,” says the letter addressed to Rosemary Rodriguez, the chairwoman of the Election Assistance Commission. “ES&S; determined that the primary issue [that caused the machines to formulate incorrect vote counts] was dust and debris build-up on the sensors inside the M-100” voting machine. “This has impacted the Digital to Analog Converter (DAC) settings for the two Contact Image Sensors (CIS).”

"This begs the question,” Johnson wrote. “On Election Day, will the record number of ballots going through the remaining tabulators leave even more build-up on the sensors, affecting machines that tested fine just initially? Could this additional build-up on voting tabulators that have not had any preventative maintenance skew vote totals?

“My understanding is that the problem could occur and election workers would have no inkling that ballots are being misread.”

Franken, who in the past has refused to believe that electronic voting machines could alter the results of an election, said Wednesday said his campaign was also looking into "irregularities", including some polling places in Minneapolis that ran out of registration materials.

“Our office and the Obama campaign have received reports of irregularities at various precincts around the state,” Franken said in a statement. “For instance, some polling places in Minneapolis ran out of registration materials.”...

The former Saturday Night Live writer said his campaign was also looking into "voting irregularities", including some polling places in Minneapolis that ran out of registration materials.

Election activists in the state said voting machines malfunctioned in several counties, and there were cases where voters disappeared from the rolls.

Minneapolis Elections Director Cindy Reichert said the ballots were not delivered because some polling places had closed, and were being sent to be tallied Saturday afternoon....

The 32 Minneapolis ballots were part of the normal delivery of absentee ballots late in the polling day, according to Election Director Cindy Reichert.

She said they were retained when they couldn't be delivered because some polling places had shut down for the day. She said the ballots were kept sealed until other election duties were completed and were being counted Saturday afternoon, with results to be delivered to the state on Monday. aUU

The 32 Minneapolis ballots were part of the normal delivery of absentee ballots late in the polling day, Election Director Cindy Reichert, a Democrat, told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Reichert claims the ballots were retained when they couldn't be delivered because some polling places had shut down for the day. She said the ballots were kept sealed until other election duties were completed and were being counted Saturday afternoon, with results to be delivered to the state on Monday...

Shelby said poll workers had to call Ramsey County election officials for more secrecy folders, clipboards and pens.

Precincts in Minneapolis and St. Louis Park reported that by mid-afternoon, two-thirds of eligible voters had already cast ballots.

Instant runoff

Cindy Reichert, director of the city’s elections department, will share two reports with the City Council committee today, both from the Secretary of State’s Ranked Choice Voting Issues Group, which started meeting last summer. One report focuses on legislative barriers and other other on technological problems.The State Legislature needs to make some changes to state law in order for Minneapolis’ system to be legal to be better guarded against the possibility of lawsuits. Rep. Steve Simon, DFL-St. Louis Park, has introduced a bill in the House, and a Senate bill was expected to be introduced, possibly today by Sen. Ann Rest, DFL-New Hope, Massey said.

The City Council needs to pass its own new voting ordinance to reflect instant run-off procedures. Robin Garwood, an aide to Council Member Cam Gordon, said their office wants to begin putting the new rules in ordinance as soon as possible. “Whether or not there’s state legislation on this, we should have our rules in ordinance,” Garwood said.

The biggest challenge is going to be acquiring new voting equipment that can count ranked ballots and is certified by the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission, a process that can be lengthy and expensive. Ranked-choice voting machines are a niche market and so the companies that make voting equipment haven’t made them a priority.

Votes changing

Election Director Ramsey County MN

Bradblog theory MN voting scanners faulty in Coleman/Franken race

(ed. note. if so then how on earth can we trust the accepted as is ballots are any of them valid? So Coleman isn't ahead by only 206 votes? Franken will get more votes?

The thing about scanned ballots, the scanner is non-partisan. It will be interesting to see just how close to the actual machine tally the hand-count gets.

Remember this is not going to count ballots which were clearly over-voted until both sides review the hand-count for those ballots. Those rejected ballots will be perused to determine whether stupid voters did not read the directions on how to mark a paper ballot properly. A scanner reading a circled or check-marked ballot may be set to reject that ballot.

Now the interesting thing is, with precinct scanner, the voter gets a notice - if the machine is set to notify - of an over-vote. However, it may be that some voters chose to over-ride the over-voted notice and cast the ballot as is.

An important distinction. If the voter decides to get another paper ballot, the spoiled ballot should be voided, marked with void or spoiled and a log of the ballot's number should be kept, noting it was voided. That way, nobody can claim to have 'found' a whole bunch of new ballots which have circles and checkmarks instead of being filled in.

Another thing the scanner does is notify the voter of an under-voted contest. With the under-vote, however, the race isn't invalidated, or rejected. The voter is notified and can choose to cast the ballot as is.

In a review of undervotes, if the precinct scanner was utilized, there should be no question about the intent of the voter to cast the under-voted ballot as is.

But we look for Franken attorneys to argue an under-voted Senate race on a ballot where the voter marked the ballot for Obama for President equally wanted to mark the Senate race for Franken.

That's where the fraud comes in. We'll wait and see, but not holding our breath that the argument won't be used.

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