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