Goddard's Election Investigation Highly Suspicious -- of the Observers

Pima County RTA Investigation: Who Are The Suspects?
By John R Brakey   Thursday, April 09, 2009
This week Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard is supervising a recount of the (2006) RTA transit bond election as part of a criminal investigation to discover whether results from that election were rigged. The truth lies within 105 boxes of ballots. 

As election integrity activists, we verify and seek only the truth regardless of the outcome. We think of ourselves as partners with our elected officials in search of solutions that will subject future elections to proper public oversight in order to ensure their integrity. 

"One person, one vote" is the basis of our democracy.  We shouldn't have to wonder if our votes are being counted correctly; but it's also true that only through our active exercise of our rights will our democracy survive and flourish. Citizenship is every person's highest calling. The responsibility of citizenship, I've learned, is practiced with what I like to call the Four C's: Character, Capacity, Credibility, and Civility.

 
At times, it seems that to be an election observer, a little Courage is needed as well. For the privilege of doing our civic duty as citizen observers, monitoring the Maricopa election workers through a glass window as they hand count ballots from the 2006 RTA election, we must walk through a gauntlet of security checks, many times, daily.
We have to wonder why this level of surveillance is necessary in a public area?  What threat do we represent? A system that intimidates citizen participation is not what good government was meant to be.

We should not have to feel like we are the suspects. Let there be no doubt, that is how others and I were made to feel in the public viewing area.  Our bodies and belongings were thoroughly searched every time we entered the area.  We were constantly watched by two sheriff's deputies and an additional (armed) man from the attorney general's office. We experienced a constant, calculated insult as each of us was followed everywhere by a 'minder' from law enforcement, even to the bathroom.

Even though we viewed the count through a window that prevents any close-up look at the ballots and does not allow us to hear anything inside the counting area, we were not permitted to use cell phones or modems.  We have to wonder why.  When practicing good citizenship, one should not be treated as or made to feel like a suspect.
 
Republican Party recount observer Bob Hancock (left) and Democratic Party observer Ben Love (right) behold evidence of the AG's shoddy ballot custody (see closeup of improperly sealed ballot box below) while themselves being closely monitored by an unidentified officer (middle) from the attorney general's office -- one of five plainclothes AG officers armed with handguns tailing every election observer both inside and outside of the ballot counting room. Under Attorney General Goddard's procedures, official recount observers are prohibited from taking any notes (even pens and paper are banned) and in fact, are not even allowed to stand close enough to read the ballots, poll tapes, or any other evidence that they are supposedly there to witness and verify.
Yesterday (4.7.09) observers Hancock and Love were told by the attorney general's officer in charge of the recount, Special Agent Meg J. Hinchey of the Special Investigations Division, that the Pima ballots have been held in the Maricopa County Election Department since Attorney General Goddard secretly ordered them removed from Pima County in February. That announcement contradicts previous declarations by the AG's office and Maricopa Elections Department that the attorney general's office has been in possession of the ballots. Attorney General Goddard is the only one who really knows for sure where the Pima ballot evidence has been for the past two months, and he has yet to give any public accounting of the ballot chain of custody.

One of the greatest things the founders of our country did in setting up the functioning of our government was to establish the idea that the government acts as our servant. Each time we show up to observe our elections, we reinforce this principle. Emerging from the court case, Pima County Democratic Party v Board of Supervisors, was the unassailable fact (acknowledged by Attorney General Goddard) that we're voting on a "seriously flawed" voting system.
The Pima County Elections Department must account for the aberrant facts and anomalies unique to the 2006 RTA  election. It is disappointing, at this late date, that no one from the attorney general's office has ever interviewed Jim March, Dr. Tom Ryan, or Mickey Duniho about our findings regarding the facts and anomalies pertinent to the RTA election.
It is our hope that the collective work of many concerned citizens exposing these problems will lead to their correction -- not by replacing the present fatally flawed Diebold system with another vendor's equally secretive computerized voting machines, but by making the electoral system fully transparent and accountable to the voters. 
The soon-to-be-released documentary film, Fatally Flawed, tells the story and points to solutions. Soon it will be all about solutions. As we pursue the truth in this matter, let's stay mindful of where the scrutiny and suspicion ought to stay focused.

John Brakey

Co-founder of AUDIT-AZ (Americans United for Democracy, Integrity, and Transparency in Elections, Arizona)

Election Defense Alliance Co-Coordinator for Investigations 

Mobile: 520 339 2696

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