Pima Victory! Supervisors Vote to Release All 2006 Election Databases

Thanks to Blog for Arizona (Michael Bryan) for coverage of today's groundbreaking decision: http://arizona.typepad.com/blog/2008/01/pima-county-boa.html

Pima County Board of Supervisors Advances Election Integrity
Votes Unanimously to Release All 2006 Election Databases

At today's hearing at the Pima Board of Supervisors, after a number of false starts, the Board voted unanimously to release the entire database series from the 2006 primary, general, and RTA elections and to drop the appeal of Judge Miller's ruling. The records release greatly exceeds the records required to be released by Judge Miller's ruling, demonstrating a great deal of leadership on election integrity by all the members of the Board.

A consortium of technical experts of the three recognized political parties will work with Pima County's technical advisor John Moffitt to provide the records to all the parties as soon as practicable. The parties should have access to the databases by the end of the week.

This decision by the Board to drop the appeal and release more records than required by court order is a major statement of openness and transparency by the county. Providing the entire series, rather than only the final election file as ordered by Judge Miller's ruling, allows forensic experts from the parties to verify that database contents that should not vary during the counting of an election have, in fact, not been altered. Such verification is a critical piece of evidence whether or not an election has been tampered with by insiders. It also allows further investigation of forensic methods by which to test and verify that elections insiders have not acted improperly in running the election.

The agenda item was originally disposed of by voting 4-1 not to appeal Judge Miller's ruling (with Ray Carroll the dissenting vote, after his amendment to release all database files the parties are requesting was rejected). Chairman Elias cut off public comment after 5 speakers with more than 30 citizens still waiting to speak.

After a near yuppie riot, Chairman Elias reversed himself by moving directly to public comment period at the urging of Ray Carroll. After a dozen or so citizens spoke to the issue of a full public release of election databases, Carroll urged a motion to reconsider the lawsuit issue, and Chairman Elias allowed it and it was passed unanimously. Chairman Elias then himself motioned that the RTA series of databases also be released. After some input from experts such as John Denker, John Moffitt, and Jim March about the proper scope of the motion, the motion was finalized as a release of all database files pertaining to the 2006 primary, general, and RTA elections. The motion passed unanimously.

This was a very contentious meeting with some very vocal citizens. John Brakey courted ejection or arrest several times in order to keep the Board focused on the issue and to vindicate the people's right to be heard. There were continual interruptions of the proceedings with applause, jeers, and chants. I gotta say, I didn't envy Chairman Elias the task of trying to keep order under the circumstances: angry constituents, leaders of both parties with the crowd, television camera rolling. I give him full credit for dealing with it with aplomb and ultimately steering the Board to the right decision.


Amazing! If anyone doubted the power of an intense, energized, highly informed group to change the status quo, doubt no longer. The Supervisors saw the election integrity folks would not give up. They heard from people who were informed, intelligent and passionate. And the Supervisors saw the light. I give them credit for the wisdom of their decision, but the light they saw was the high wattage intensity of a group people who have right on their side, and know it.

Special thanks are due to John Brakey. As the post said, he risked expulsion or arrest, yet he continued to demand that people have the right to be heard. And he had a crowd of people who cheered as he spoke, letting the Supervisors know he was speaking for all of us. Without his doggedness and the support he received, the final breakthrough might never have happened.

Posted by: David Safier | January 08, 2008 at 02:22 PM

It was loud, wild and awesome. Brakey was the sparkplug driving things forward at key moments even when we stalled out with the Supes in mental vapor-lock.

To their credit, they did eventually "get it" regarding how multiple databases for each election cause no security concerns whatsoever compared to releasing just one database file per election.

They therefore ordered the release of ALL data files for the two elections Judge Miller had ordered review for ('06 primary and general) and then added the same review for the '06 RTA.

Armed with complete series of data files for these three elections, we have a real shot at uncovering problems if it's at ALL possible to do so. We can compare multiple "time slices" of election data, tracking changes in ways that have never before been possible. The plan is to write an automated comparison program to track the changes in up to 40 or 50 files per election...we have a preliminary design for this application and the "techies" behind the case will be in a huddle likely tomorrow to find-tune the design and then begin the coding process.

Building and testing the tool will take weeks but it's still faster than doing eyeball scrutiny of the files. Better yet, once the tool is built it can be thrown at data sets for later elections or elections elsewhere in the nation as it will be open source, free to download worldwide - usable wherever Diebold voting systems are found.

Jim March