RTA ballots to be counted April 6

by David Safier

I just got word from John Brakey that the ballots from the disputed RTA election are supposed to be counted April 6.

If true, this is big news. The count/don't count controversy has been raging for quite awhile now — and the word "raging" is no exaggeration. If a definitive answer about the outcome of the election comes from counting the ballots (Amazingly, they have never been hand counted. The results we have came out of a computer that tallies the scanned ballots using a program that everyone admits can be easily manipulated to give false results), it would bring this controversy toward its conclusion. Either the vote count was rigged and the ballot measure was actually defeated as many people in the election integrity community believe, or the count was legit.

But Brakey and others waging the election integrity battle are concerned about the process. A court proceeding about the fate of the ballots ended abruptly when Attorney General Terry Goddard said he would take charge of the ballots. Days later, he carted them off from the Pima County Treasurer's office to Maricopa County.

With so much suspicion surrounding the ballots, the question is, why didn't Goddard involve members of the political parties in moving the ballots? It would have been easy to have the entire process monitored by Democrats, Republicans and Libertarians so all three parties were satisfied that the chain of custody was intact and the ballots were stored securely. But he didn't.

He could have left the ballots where they were in Pima County and conducted the hand count here, where there are plenty of trained counters and observers from the three parties who count ballots from selected precincts after each election. But he didn't.

Brakey and others who have been looking into this have no idea where the ballots are stored or who will be involved in the counting. They say they can't get any answers from the AG's office. Why Goddard has opted against transparency is beyond me. His actions have increased suspicion among those who have fought for this moment long and hard and want everything to be done in a way that is above suspicion.

As I said in an earlier post, I'm an agnostic about the RTA election. There are lots of indicators that could point to election fraud, but there is nothing like definitive proof. But I'm a true believer in transparent election processes that make it nearly impossible for bad actors to cook election results that go against the will of the voters. I don't understand why Goddard isn't trying to earn the trust and cooperation of those who have worked on this for years, to assure them this last phase of the process is being conducted with the greatest possible care and transparency.

UPDATE: An email from someone who has been following this whole thing closely urged me to be cautious about casting suspicion on Goddard's actions. This person says that the same source who told the election integrity folks that the ballots would be counted April 6 also said the hand count would be done in the presence of party observers. This person also wrote, "The AG is documenting chain of custody, as it is required to do, to preserve the admissibility of the evidence in any subsequent criminal proceeding."

I admit my ignorance about legal issues and how criminal proceedings are handled. My only concern here is with getting out the information and presenting my concerns.

The whole RTA controversy operates on at least two levels: reality — whether the RTA count was fair or rigged — and perception — whether people feel the investigation is being conducted fairly and the conclusions reached in the investigation are valid. Before the AG stepped in, perception was on the side of the election integrity folks. The papers and the Pima County Supes were calling for the ballots to be counted. Now that the AG has stepped in and a conclusion to this affair seems to be in sight, the perception has shifted. The election integrity folks are looking to many like conspiracy theorists who believe everyone in a position of power is in on the plot to bury the truth about the election. I want to see as much transparency as is legally permissible so the conclusions that come out of the investigation, whatever they may be, can be accepted as valid.

7 responses to “RTA ballots to be counted April 6

  1. Let’s just hope that all party representatives can observe this hand count on April 6th. Goddard probably didn’t do it down here as he doesn’t trust the Pima County Elections Division (does anyone?)

  2. David Safier

    Meade, the answer is, the results of the election are final, no matter what a count of the ballots reveal. By state law, you have only 6 (I think) days to challenge an election, which makes it practically impossible to challenge an election.

    The stated purpose of the election integrity folks is to find out if the RTA election was rigged and if so, to prevent future rigging.

  3. Just out of curiosity, should it be proved that the RTA election was counted and declared fraudulently, what will happen next? Will the RTA cease all activity immediately and will all tax monies collected so far be refunded? Will all road development stop where it is, all road designs be put in the recycling and southern Arizona have its own “bridge to nowhere”?
    Definitely, all elections should be held in an open and transparent manner, paper ballots should be used and they should be hand counted. The election should be closely monitored and challenges should be made in a timely fashion, not months or years after the fact.

    CONTACT: DFA-Tucson
    March 4, 2009 Dick Kaiser, co-chair
    52o 881-0711

    Local Documentary of Election Controversy Ready For Release;
    Groups Host Preview Monday Evening

    Fatally Flawed, a newly-produced local documentary that chronicles the legal challenge to the May 2006 Pima County election which created the Regional Transportation Authority and generated a lawsuit resulting in the largest release of election data in US history, will be previewed for the public Monday, March 9 An alliance of the Tucson Chapter of Democracy for America and Voices of Opposition will host the presentation on Monday, 7 pm, at the University of Arizona’s Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering (AME) building on the northeast corner of Speedway and Mountain. Free to the public.

    The issues involving the apparent lack of integrity of the electoral process in Pima County and Arizona and the almost three year old challenge to release of the RTA election ballots for a hand count remain headline news to this day.

    In addition to the preview of Fatally Flawed, principal investigators of the election will be on hand to provide insight on the current issues related to the controversy.

    Recently, members of the local Democratic Party’s Election Integrity Committee offered individual opinions on the matter.

    “The Democratic Party [and all other political parties] has a statutory right and a critical role in our state system to track and see what’s going on with our elections,” said Attorney Bill Risner, who is involved with the legal investigation into the validity of the May 2006 Regional Transportation Authority Election.

    “Elections and election processes should not be secret, and when they are it’s a strong sign of either outright fraud or an agency fearful of having its own incompetence exposed,” insisted Jim March, board member of Blackboxvoting.org and local election investigator. “True security always lies in openness.”

    Michael Duniho, former election inspector in Maryland and computer analyst concluded, “It seems clear that our system of ‘one-man, one-vote’ only works if a large number of people monitor the election, to be sure it is honest.”

    From the words of those who controlled the election and others who have investigated the election, Fatally Flawed makes the case that:
    1. Acts of omission and commission occurred before, during and after the May 2006 election by entrusted officials, constituting the charges of election fraud.
    2. To date, government officials at the local and state levels have acted to thwart the resolution of these accusations of a rigged election.
    3. Only a prompt, fair, and transparent hand-counting of the May 2005 ballots will remove the cloud over the creation of the RTA.

    For further information, call 622-6419

  5. Video clip of our trip to Phoenix Monday: CHASING TRANSPARENCY and CHAIN-OF-CUSTODY.


  6. One clarification: April 6th is a bit of a guesstimate based on Maricopa’s election department finishing up a minor election first. It’ll be around that time and April 6th is the most likely start date.

    To their credit, Maricopa elections is saying they want to invite the political parties to send observers…but whether or not that happens is up to the AZ AG.

  7. I would like to note that the onus of proof should be placed on the those holding the election not those who have concerns about the accuracy of the results.