Arizona Transparency

Plaintiffs Call on Court for Prospective Relief in Tainted RTA Election

August 28, 2009 Run Time 12:52 In this excerpt, Bill Risner, attorney for the Pima County Democratic Party, makes the case for staying a motion to destroy ballots from the disputed 2006 RTA (transit bond) election, pending appeal of a previous ruling that Arizona courts have no jurisdiction to intervene in cases of alleged election fraud. That legal question is extremely important, but with regard to the RTA case at hand, will be moot if the ballot evidence in the case is destroyed.

Why Not Get to the Bottom of It: A Palinesque Reply

August 28, 2009 Run Time 01:18 "Why not get to the bottom of it?" the judge asked. In answer, the Pima Treasurer's attorney offers a bewildering rationale why it would be better to destroy the ballots than examine them -- while professing neutrality on the question.

County's Attorney Dismisses "Conspiracy Theorists," Says Goddard Settled the Questions

August 28, 2009 Run Time 09:18 Clinging to the letter of the law, the county counsel says electoral remedies are up to the legislature, and no concern of the court.

Can Courts Provide Remedy When Election Transparency is Denied?

August 28, 2009 Run time: 35:30 Attorney Bill Risner argues that the statutory 5-day period to contest an election, enacted in 1912 during an era of publicly-counted paper ballots, is no longer adequate for verifying elections counted by computer, and that the right to contest a suspect election is thereby effectively denied. Given the evidence of probable election fraud presented in the RTA database lawsuits, Attorney Risner calls on Judge Herrington to stay Pima County's motion to destroy the RTA ballots.

Evidence that Attorney General Goddard Ignored, and Why the RTA Case Still Matters

In its completely nontransparent investigation into the RTA election--this included an unusually done hand-recount of what are purported to have been the actual RTA ballots -- the Arizona attorney general’s office declined to examine the poll tapes and certification evidence.

The attorney general's investigation also removed the poll tapes and certifications beyond the reach of election integrity investigators, who were pursuing those records in court when the attorney general intervened. It’s a standard practice to reconcile the precinct result with the signed polltapes in any hand-count.

Legal action to get access to those records will continue, but at present, the RTA poll tapes and certification reports are boxed along with the RTA ballots and are at risk for destruction, depending on Judge Herrington's decision.

Poll tapes are records of the precinct election results printed out by the voting machines at the close of polls and signed by the pollworkers. End-of-day certification reports are statements also signed by the pollworkers attesting that the poll tape vote totals reconciled with the number of voters who cast ballots in the precinct.

Reconciling ballots with the signed poll tapes is standard auditing procedure that helps verify that votes being recounted are the same that were cast on election day. Conducting a "recount" without reconciling ballots, poll tapes, and certification reports, is a rubberstamping endorsement of unverified election results.

The suspect Pima County owns a ballot printing machine. It is known as the “ballot on demand” system. That machine can immediately print any ballot for any precinct of the RTA election, last fall's primary or general election or any other recent election. It can do so because the “GEMS” election computer database retains the printing instructions known as “ballot definition files.”
The original ballots were printed on an offset press by the Runbeck Company in Glendale, Arizona.

The unused RTA ballots were reportedly destroyed by Runbeck in June of 2006. If Pima County wanted to print new ballots, they could most easily print them using their own ballot printing machine. Pima County's machine uses a laser printer. That printer is simply a computer with GEMS instructions connected to an Okidata laser printer.

In a personal experiment, Jim March used a microscope and noted that the offset printed ballots from Runbeck had “clean” margins on the printed material while laser printed material had observable “toner spray” on the margins. He showed, therefore, that by simply putting a ballot under a microscope one can determine if it was printed on an offset press or a laser printer.

Jim March photographed samples of each and sent to the Attorney General's office copies of the photographs and a description of what to look for. He requested that they look at the ballots as he had demonstrated. Jim brought a microscope with him to Phoenix and kept it available for such an examination in the observation room on the other side of the glass window to the counting area.

Bill Risner, attorney for the Democratic Party, also sent a written request asking the attorney general's investigators to either conduct a forensic examination of the ballots themselves, or permit the citizen observers to do so. In a highly unusual and significant vote, the entire executive committee of the Pima County Democratic Party requested the attorney general's office to conduct such an examination, or permit citizen observers to inspect the ballots under a microscope.

These requests were all denied by the attorney general's officers in charge of the recount.

Was the attorney general's recount a cover-up of insider election fraud? That question can only be answered through direct public access to the actual RTA ballots, poll tapes, and certification reports.

Ballot Image Scanning Sought as “Prospective Relief” in Pima County

By John R Brakey

As matters stand today, having strong evidence of election fraud is not sufficient to obtain legal remedy. Even if proof is obtained (such as a sworn statement that a computer operator had been ordered to rig the election and did so), a Pima County Superior Court judge has decided that the Court is powerless to act.

In the years before electronic voting machines entered elections, paper ballots were hand-counted in public at the precincts where results could be easily and openly verified by public witnesses and the press. Now, however, American elections are almost universally conducted using private vendor-managed computerized electronic voting systems, and the counting of invisible electronic ballots occurs inside computers running unobservable software processes.

Election laws in the U.S. were generally written in the paper-ballot, hand-count era long pre-dating the introduction of computerized voting machines. In most states, election laws allow only a narrow 5-day window to challenge questionable election results. That was a reasonable amount of time, when the laws were written. But today, given the complexity and unobservable nature of computerized vote tabulation, it is impossible to examine evidence and prepare an election fraud case within that 5-day period.

That's why the Arizona Election Transparency Project (AZTP) of EDA and AUDITAZ, is seeking graphic ballot image scanning as “prospective relief” to fix what's broken in our electoral process, and protect the integrity of future elections. Graphic ballot image scanning can reliably expose attempted election fraud, no matter what method might be used to try to cheat. The following short video explains how.

Mitch Trachtenberg Explains How the Ballot Browser Program Counts Scanned Ballot Images

Graphic scanning combined with improved accounting standards works to quickly verify election results. Here are some key elements of the AZTP Graphic Scanning proposal:

• A certified public accountant should oversee the canvassing of all ballots and sign off on the results.

• Citizen election observers are added to the canvass board so that it is not composed entirely of election department employee.

• Graphic scanning of "early" (absentee) ballots, grouped in audited batches of at least 1,000 ballots per box, begins on election morning.

• Independent auditing of the precinct-cast ballots commences at close of polls on election night.

• On Election night, 7 to 10% of the precincts are randomly selected, and ALL of the ballots from those precincts are graphically scanned, producing human-readable ballot images that are copied to DVDs given to each of the political parties and then uploaded to the Internet, for direct comparison to the official precinct results.

• During the week following election day, all the remaining uncounted ballots (including absentee, verified provisional, etc.) are graphically scanned and the ballot images are uploaded to the Internet.

• All spoiled and left-over ballots are accounted for.

• Images of all of the ballots cast are made available to the public on the Internet.

• The graphically-scanned ballot images can then be counted by open-source software independent of the proprietary voting systems that generate the official election results.

• This system, if implemented properly, is an independent check on the official canvas, and is verifiable by the public.

The picture above is a screen shot of Mitch Trachtenberg's Ballot Browsing Program, an open-source software application written primarily in the Python programming language. This program provides the transparency that is missing from the proprietary voting system software (Premiere) currently used by Humboldt County.

If you would like to learn what is going on in Pima County, please join us at the Loft Theater in Tucson on September 16th at 7:00 p.m. for the premiere of the documentary film Fatally Flawed. You’ll be able to see with your own eyes why the computerized voting system we're conducting our elections with, is "fatally flawed."

Film premiere information and directions

Learn More About Graphic Ballot Scanning:

Election Transparency Project
Humboldt County, California

Recent Media Coverage:
Brad Blog

Wired Magazine
Unique Transparency Program Uncovers Problems with Voting Software