EDA Elections Investigator John Brakey Acquitted on Trespassing Charge

Yesterday (4.16.09) in Pima County Superior Court, Judge Luis Castillo dismissed trespassing charges filed against election observer John Brakey by the Pima County Elections Director, Brad Nelson. In so ruling, Judge Castillo also said Nelson was "over-reaching" when he had Brakey arrested during the Pima County primary audit of 2008.

This video is part of the EDA TV videolog collection online at: http://eda-tv.blip.tv/
The URL for this particular video is:  http://blip.tv/file/2004617/

BACKGROUND:

While monitoring a handcount of ballots from the September 3rd Arizona primary, in his capacity as an official election observer for the Democratic and Libertarian parties, EDA Investigations Co-Coordinator John Brakey was arrested and ejected from the Pima County election headquarters on orders of Pima County Elections Director Brad Nelson.

 

Brakey had noticed that several of the incoming bags containing ballots from the precincts had unsecured or missing seals. The seal failures appeared to be the result of pollworkers not knowing how to properly lock them.

Brakey then wondered whether the serial numbers on the bag seals matched the serial numbers recorded by the precinct pollworkers when they sealed the ballots. One question led to another, and Brakey ended up in handcuffs.

Video: http://electiondefensealliance.org/2008/09/john_brakey_arrested

 These clips are part of the Pima/RTA election investigation story soon to be released as Fatally Flawed, a feature documentary film produced by EDA in association with Sound and Fury Productions, Inc.

See the trailer here: http://eda-tv.blip.tv/#1987293

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Update 4/17/09:  Letter from Attorney Bill Risner, John Brakey's legal counsel

Justice of the Peace Jose Luis Castillo entered a judgment of acquittal on the trespassing criminal charges against John Brakey yesterday afternoon.  No defense witnesses were necessary as the case was dismissed at the end of the prosecution case.  The judge specifically noted that Mr. Brakey's efforts were helpful to improving ballot auditing procedures.  Importantly he found that Brad Nelson had "overreached" in ordering Brakey arrested.

John Brakey was a Democratic Party observer when arrested.  I am proud that he stood his ground against the bully Brad Nelson.  Here is what happened, according to Brad Nelson's testimony.

Brakey had been an observer on two prior occasions and was able to ask questions of party auditors.

Nelson had conducted an orientation session of party auditors during which Brakey was "confrontational" when he raised his hand and asked if they could count a county race.
Nelson did not mention to the auditors during the orientation that auditors should look at the seal numbers on the yellow sheets or the bags.

Noting those seal numbers is important.

Brakey asked some auditors to check and note whether the yellow sheet seal record matched the bag seals.

Brakey's question was helpful and pertinent.

The information Brakey requested resulted in changes in the procedures in the future which was beneficial.

Brakey had informed Nelson of the benefit of recording that information prior to speaking to the individuals but Nelson did not say anything to any auditors.

Nelson had  a personal rule that a party observer could not ask any questions of any auditors.  It was not in any writing of his nor in the Secretary of State manual.
A statute allowed Nelson to kick out anyone who "disrupted" the count.

When Brakey spoke to party auditors no ballots were on any table.

Nelson concluded that Brakey was disrupting "the process" because as soon as the auditors were sworn in the process had begun, and especially when the bags were brought into the room, even though they were just sitting on the tables.

Nelson was responding to a "complaint" of Republican Party chair Judy White that Brakey had asked a question without Nelsons approval.

My conclusion is stronger than the judge's measured conclusion that Nelson had "overreached."  He needs to be fired.  He is not merely a serial liar.  He has serious personality control problems that disqualify him from working with political parties.  He is simply a power mad lunatic, at a minimum.

-- Bill Risner