by Pamela Powers Hannley
Since the 2006 Pima County election, which created the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA), there have been ongoing gquestions about election integrity, the ease in which local vote-scanning machines can be hacked, and accusations of slip-shod procedures in the county's election division.
Last Friday, a group of local citizens– Democrats, Republicans, Greens, Libertarians, and Independents– filed a lawsuit to force Pima County to comply with election laws in the way it handles ballots and ballot machines in this election. This action will be heard in Pima Superior Court tomorrow– Nov. 1– at 2 p.m.
In a Wake Up Tucson radio interview, Bill Beard (who is running against long-time Pima County Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez) and attorney Brad Roach said that the current court action alleges no past wrong doing by the county; it simply asks judge to order the county to comply with state law in handling the elections.
"Pima County has short-circuited some of the laws of the state of Arizona," Beard claims in the radio interview.
In the past, the Pima County Board of Supervisors has been less than cooperative with election integrity investigations– hence the move to encourge the courts to force the county's hand. The plaintiffs want the judge to instruct the county to:
1- Have poll workers include in every Official Return Envelope a copy of the signed "tally lists" or results tape. (This is a record of the total number of votes a machine has on board before it leaves the precinct polling place and is taken to the elections department. When the machine reaches the county, these totals can be rechecked.)
2- Separate the vote by mail ballots by precinct (thus simplifying random sample rechecks of votes).
3- Conduct sufficient randomly selected hand count audits of the vote by mail ballots– including county races.
4- Pay plaintiffs' attorneys' fees and the costs of expert witnesses and "reasonable" costs for any analysis and testing to verify results.
Why does a group of citizens have to file a lawsuit against the Pima County Board of Supervisors to force them to protect our votes? Videos and more informaiton after the jump.
In a nutshell, here are the facts:
1- The Diebold vote-scanning machines used in Pima County are easily hacked. The memory cards in these machines can be run through a separate machine called a Crop Scanner and reprogrammed to take votes away from one candidate and give them to another candidate– essentially flipping the votes. This changes the outcome of the election, while allowing the vote total to remain the same. (Not to sound paranoid, but the evidence is that votes always flip to Republicans– except when they flipped in favor of Mitt Romney in the recent Republican primaries.)
2- The Pima County Elections Department owns a Crop Scanner, and the technician who purchased it admitted that he played with it and knows that it can be used to easily change votes.
3- The Pima County Elections Department also has been shown to have sloppy procedures in the past.
4- These same machines have been found to flip votes in previous elections in other parts of the country. Check out these two recent stories of vote flipping in Florida: CBS4 Investigates: Does Your Vote Count?, CBS4 Investigates: Does Your Vote Count? The Overvote Worries, and CBS4 Investigates: Does Your Vote Count? The Recount Test.
Watch the video below and see how easy it is to reprogram a voting machine.