AZ Judge Orders Release of Past and Future E-Vote Databases
-- Judge Michael Miller, Arizona Superior Court, Pima County, May 23, 2008
SIGNIFICANCE of RULING, IN BRIEF:
* All of Pima County's Diebold election database files going back to 1998 are to be released to the public.
* Database files in future elections are to be made available as soon as Pima County announces the official canvass results (no sooner than 6 days, or later than 20 days, following an election.)
* The ruling appears to require Pima County to be prepared to release the complete election database on CD/DVDs immediately coincident with the final canvass announcement.
* Release of final canvass results begins the 5-day period during which any election challenge must be initiated, as prescribed in Arizona state election law.
* The E-voting machine databases contain crucial direct evidence necessary to challenge suspect election results.
* The Pima County release order is the most far-reaching electronic voting database disclosure yet obtained in the nation. The only prior precedent was a one-time release of the 2004 election database for the state of Alaska, obtained by the Alaska Democratic Party.
NEWS from Arizona Star, http://www.azstarnet.com/allheadlines/240594
Pima County is Ordered to Release Data on Elections
By Andrea Kelly, Arizona Daily Star, May 24, 2008
TUCSON, AZ-- A Pima County Superior Court judge has ordered county officials to release a series of elections database records requested by the Democratic Party more than a year ago.
The judge's ruling also requires release of databases for all future elections.
The ruling comes after months of court hearings and decisions.
After the December trial, in which the Pima County Democratic Party and the county argued as to whether the records were public and, if so, whether their release posed a security risk, Judge Michael Miller ordered the release of databases for the primary and general elections in 2006.
That was only part of the party's request for electronic database records.
In January, the Pima County Board of Supervisors decided to also release the database records for the May 2006 Regional Transportation election.
Following that decision, the party asked for a new trial to consider the release of the rest of the records it requested, which included all of the Diebold GEMS and Microsoft database election files. It is those which the judge has released in his latest order.
The county Democratic Party says the decision sets a national precedent for open government and election integrity.
"Ultimately if you're going to have electronic voting and electronic election records, you need to have electronic oversight.
It's as simple as that," said Vince Rabago, chairman of the Pima County Democratic Party.
People from across the country interested in election integrity issues have contacted the party about this case, Rabago said.
The Pima County Board of Supervisors will likely discuss the ruling with attorneys at its next meeting June 3, said Daniel Jurkowitz, deputy Pima County attorney.
The previous release included about 300 computer database files, and fulfillment of the full order will bring that number to about 1,100, Jurkowitz said.
In court, the county said releasing the records could put the county elections department at risk of a security breach. But the Democratic Party argued that there was no specific risk, and that allowing more people to see the records reduced the possibility of fraud.
Richard Elías, chairman of the Pima County Board of Supervisors, said the ruling reflects the desires of the public.
"I think the people spoke through the Democratic Party, and the judge heard that and made a good decision," said Elías, a Democrat. "This is a good victory for all of us who want to see elections run more carefully."
He said the county elections process has changed dramatically in the last few years and has led to more security, and he hopes that continues.
Miller's ruling requires the release of data on future elections to occur when the election is officially canvassed. This is important because state law limits election-results challenges to the five days following the official canvas.
Republican Supervisor Ray Carroll said the Democratic Party's victory extends to any concerned citizen.
He said he would have released the records in the first place, and
has voted for releasing the records.
The judge has not yet ruled on a request that the county pay the Democratic Party's legal fees, which run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. He took the issue under advisement after a hearing earlier this month.
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