Monday, May 16, 2011
Pima County Elections In Court: Investigation And Reforms
We are now taking donations to fund the most important piece of election-related litigation going on today: a chance to both expose what's gone wrong AND move forward with court-ordered reforms. In the previous public records case we won, big - and that's how we know the extent of the problems that need correcting. In the current case trying to do the reforms we lost round one, won in appeals, won yet again at the Arizona Supreme Court, which means that the preliminaries are done. The AZ Supremes have spoken, and what they say is "game on". Like Warron Zevon said, "Send lawyers, guns and money; the sh%$ has hit the fan." We've got the lawyers and guns covered (not that the latter should be needed!) BUT we need the money to maximize this incredible opportunity: an election lawsuit that for once can't get bounced on a technicality because we've nailed THAT down tight!
DONATION PAGE: https://www.wepay.com/donate/AZCARE
NOTE: if you want to kick in a larger amount and have it directed through a recognized 501(c)3 for tax deductability, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
How This Happened - The Incredible Back-Story:
Beginning in 2004 a group of Pima County citizens of multiple political parties began to understand that the voting systems we use are fundamentally flawed. These systems lack the ability to be properly audited, they’re capable of mis-counting all on their own and they are riddled with security flaws allowing election agency insiders to play “kingmakers”. By early 2006 a particular bond measure went so obviously astray that further investigation was clearly warranted. That led to a public records brawl in court lasting years and produced an entire documentary, “Fatally Flawed”: http://blip.tv/file/4320635
Among the serious legal and security violations specific to Pima County was proof that the county elections officers and staff had been “peeking” into “who is winning and losing” days or in some cases over a week prior to election day. This was improper at best and illegal as hell if those early results "leaked". In a different 2006 election (Sept. primaries) we could see from the voting system logs that an illegal “peek” into the results occurred approximately three hours before a badly slanted “robocall” hit 5,000+ voters in the most closely contested race. We cannot prove that the “peek” resulted in a “poke”, but that is the absolute appearance.
The next phase of the court actions in Pima County is get court-mandated improvements to the election process and with any luck, personnel changes. In the opening phase of the current case calling for reforms, the judge washed his hands of it two years ago saying that he had no ability to order reforms and closed our case. This despite Pima County admitting that the security of their Diebold-based voting system is “fatally flawed” in open court in the previous public records case. The AZ Supreme Court just overruled the trial court, saying that courts can control election processes and behaviors – less than a month ago. So we’re back before a Pima County judge, probably a different one which means it’s “game on” as far as discovery goes. We now have a chance to both prove outright fraud happened, and get court-mandated reforms such as graphic scanning of paper ballots allowing “we the people” to do truly effective oversight for the first time in AZ since the first voting machines showed up in the 1960s.
We call this lawsuit a “two-fer” because we have a tremendous opportunity to investigate existing fraud and clean it up – in a single court action that can be heard by a jury. And the Arizona Supreme Court just ruled that the trial court has the jurisdiction to do so – this is not going to be bounced on a technicality! Here's the appelate court decision that the AZ Supremes just upheld: http://www.apltwo.ct.state.az.us/Decisions/CV20100001Memo.pdf
Here’s a partial list of the the points already established as fact in the public records fight (the previous major round of litigation in Pima County's election wars):
1) On election night in the screwball bond election of May 2006, that night the lead election tech was caught referring to an MS-Access advanced programmer’s manual – interesting because MS-Access has long been banned as an election “tool”.
2) Also on that election night, the election director refused to put a “snapshot” of the election results into the sheriff’s hands and contrary to normal practice, did no backups at all of the results for the first three days, election night and two thereafter. We have no “snapshots” of the state of the election those days. Normal practice is to take a "snapshot" of the state of the central tabulator data at the end of each day's processing.
3) This election of May 2006 (the “RTA bond”) was one of the elections where election staff “peeked” at who was winning and losing – same as they did in every election from 2004 until we finally caught them at it in December of 2006.
4) The RTA official vote tallies from the databases we obtained in public records don’t match the official precinct-level tallies.
5) Some of the RTA race precincts had their memory cards uploaded multiple times – in some cases up to six, per the databases obtained in public records.
6) The database also shows furious activity by election officials shortly after party observers left after being told activity was closing for the night. This burst of activity includes many of the precinct memory card reloads and possibly the discarding of precinct results tapes (paper "cash register type" strips printed by the precinct voting machines on election night) that don't match the reloaded memory card totals.
7) Approximately 40% of the precinct voting machine paper tallies (the “cash register tape” records) of the machine’s activity on election night before transport back to HQ. The missing tapes were mostly among the “reload precincts” per the database records – in other words, somebody appears to have been doctoring results on the cards, uploading to see if the doctoring worked, trying again where necessary and tossing any original paper that didn’t match the alterations.
8) Conveniently, the county had spent $500 on a memory card reader originally meant as part of a system for measuring moisture in corn fields(!). This device known as a “cropscanner” allows manual editing of the contents of a precinct memory card via a standard personal computer(!!!). Blackboxvoting.org had done a security bulletin in mid-2005 on that thing, and Pima County bought their own almost immediately – leaving it laying around the office with no security or tracking of it’s use.
Taken in total, there's a strong appearance of hand editing of precinct results on election night and for the next couple of days:
* MS-Access was available to edit the central tabulator records.
* The "Cropscanner" could edit the precinct records.
* Paper results that might not match hand editing are missing.
* Various snapshots of the state of the data across time were not made.
* The system was worked on after observers were sent home.
* This same type of transportation bond measure had failed three times previously and was expected to fail again. Two billion dollars was at stake, supported by the homebuilders. This entire project was really part of the support structure for the housing bubble that imploded just a bit of a year later. (Naturally, they're still spending the money...)
This evidence and much more in Pima County is literally as bad as it gets in terms of an untrustworthy election. The management and staff in Pima County have not been changed in any significant way since this fiasco of May 2006. And due to a variety of weird circumstances that would take too long to go into, the original paper ballots still exist and we believe will show the final evidence of hand manipulation. Examining those is a top priority but it must be done carefully and under proper forensic controls. And that will take cold hard cash and a lot of hard work.
Posted by Jim March