Editorial: Cannibalism or Disinfectant? Missing the Plot in Arizona

arizona-votersby Denis G. Campbell

Sunlight is a great disinfectant, but it’s cloudy and raining over the Arizona election desert. In the few hours since t r u t h o u t ran my article on transparency and hacking problems with vote scanning machines in Arizona, two events occurred demonstrating a continued preference to attack accusers rather than the problem.

Having watched past Arizona vote machine election official fiascos for three years from abroad, UK Progressive recommends that since the Arizona election system seems to be so badly broken:

1. Federal observers, led by US Attorney General Eric Holder be dispatched to Arizona county tabulation and polling centres from the moment ‘vote by mail’ balloting begins until a final count is determined.

2. Judge Oberbillig order Maricopa County immediately to scrap machine tabulating and order a openly witnessed hand-count of all ballots in the general election for these two behemoth counties (Maricopa and Pima) that account for 75% of all votes cast and

3. Governor Jan Brewer and state Attorney General Terry Goddard should support and order all counties across the state to scrap these electronic systems and get the vote count right, even if the final outcome is not known until the next day or even later.

At stake is the state’s Congressional delegation, 1 Senator and its Chief Executive for the next four years. The voters of Arizona need to know their vote will be counted.

In a state known for an abundance of external sunshine, it is time to shine some of that light inward. Especially in light of these two:

Pima County Democratic party chair Jeffrey Rogers attacking those leading the charge for transparency via e-mail and

Jim March, an election observer in heavily Republican Maricopa County releasing a declaration to be attached to today’s plaintiff request for default judgement in the Maricopa County voter plaintiff Mandamus case before Judge Oberbillig showing the growing fraud potential brewing in the vote count.

‘Oh what a day this has been’ was a chosen season ending episode title of two Aaron Sorkin television series where calamity struck. There is long way to go to ensure accuracy of votes machine-counted in the two counties responsible for counting 75% of all Arizona ballots.

march-affidavit-1Republican Obstructionism
Jim March, an election technology expert who has advised AUDIT AZ and worked with vote count activist groups across the USA, observed a spurious series of unconnected network cables and the lack of independent, outside observation of vote count central tabulation computers. This is a scenario primed for central computer misdeeds, is clearly against Arizona law and when informed, county officials merely shrugged and threatened him with expulsion.

In March’s affidavit (date error on page 3 but it was from 23 August) he was watching mail-in ballot vote counting in heavily Republican controlled, Maricopa County and witnessed: “…a laptop connected to the central tabulator computer, a cross-connection can be made allowing the sharing of the cellular Internet connection to other computers the laptop is connected to over Ethernet – including but not limited to the central tabulator station. This would provide a way of connecting the central tabulator to the Internet at the discretion of whoever was operating the laptop.”

March goes on to further assert: “I explained that what I was seeing was a connection between the central tabulator (also known as an “Election Management System” or “EMS”) and the general internet, and that per my understanding of AZ law via statute and the Secretary of State’s current edition of the state-standard election processing manual (May 2010), this cross-connection is illegal. He shrugged. I asked him to look and see what was happening; he refused saying he “couldn’t get involved”.

march-affidavit-2The implication is Republican controlled vote counting in Maricopa County can be hacked right there at the main tabulation source.

Democratic Cannibalism
This extraordinary e-mail exchange (edited for length) between the Pima County Democratic Party Chairman Jeffrey Rogers and two election transparency activists (AUDIT AZ co-founder John Brakey and attorney Bill Risner) is where by coming out for transparency, Rogers says they are sabotaging the election for the Democratic candidate:

“John –

Are you guys trying to assure that Brewer wins?  I mean we need all hands on deck here if we have any chance of saving this state. Could you & Risner lay off the criticism of Goddard?  Or, maybe you just like Brewer better?  I mean really – are you trying to sabotage this election?”

(as sent by Jeffrey Rogers without signature)

A portion of John Brakey’s reply:

Jeff,

march-affidavit-3Yes, I’m a Democrat and a proud one at that, but 1st I’m an American, who believes in justice over politics.

Many others and I are working hard to protect the vote with very little help from you sir.

In the press conference April 21, 2009, it was announced by Terry Goddard that basically they did such a good job that they found 67 extra ballots. Yet Ms. Meg Hinchey’s own spreadsheet clearly shows that 4 precincts with 692 ballots are clearly missing – precincts 116, 174, 236 and 380. Please help us understand how that could be?…

… And then we finally get access to the poll tapes and 44% are missing or don’t match the finally database and you want others and I to stop seeking the truth? I don’t think so. …

John R Brakey

A portion of Attorney Bill Risner’s reply:

Hi Jeff:

I read your email that referenced me and the need for all hands to be on deck to elect Terry Goddard. I intend to vote for Terry Goddard and I hope other Arizonans also vote for him. Brewer is a disaster. On the other hand I would feel better if you would reveal that Goddard has a secret deal that they won’t cheat in counting his votes or in counting any other Arizona elections. I’ve attached my report that I sent to members of the Democratic Party state committee. Please let me know how a rigged election can be challenged.  Maybe Vince Rabago, or another candidate would need your plan.

You may recall that the state party did pass the resolution supporting graphic scanning which would prevent cheating in any election (insert link: ).  Only within the last couple of months Terry Goddard’s office released an opinion agreeing with Pima County that graphic scanning was against the law.  That opinion is absolute bunk.  It is based on the claim that ARS 16-1018 prevents scanning. I ask anyone who reads English to read that statute. It purely relates to conduct at the polls. No competent and honest lawyer could conclude that graphic scanning is precluded by that statute. Why would Goddard put his personal nail in the coffin to prevent the one existing plan to prevent cheating? …

… I will speak the truth and I will continue to work for honest elections. I believe that Goddard’s chances of winning are better if the votes are honestly counted. …

Bill Risner

Denis G Campbell View more

Denis G Campbell
Denis G. Campbell is founder and editor of UK Progressive magazine and co-host of The Three Muckrakers podcast. He is the author of 7 books and provides Americas, EU and Middle Eastern commentary to the BBC, itv, Al Jazeera English, CNN, CRI, MSNBC and others. He is CEO of Monknash Media and a principal with B2E Consulting in London. You can follow him on Twitter @UKProgressive and on Facebook.

5 comments

  1. John Brakey and Jim March, respectively members of the Election Defense Alliance and BlackBoxVoting.org and jointly members of Arizona-based Americans United for Democracy, Integrity, and Transparency in Elections (AUDIT-AZ), have very recently prepared a 12 page document summarizing the “Unlawful Actions of the Maricopa County [Arizona] Elections — a Partial Compendium of Sins.”

    Number 9 of the nine problems that they exposed in detail is “Private Corporate Control over the Election Process.” It seems that Runbeck Election Services, which prints the ballots for Maricopa County, is also tasked with mailing out the ballots to Mail-In voters, receiving them back in from these voters, scanning their signatures, processing them by batch for the county …and only then shipping them off to the county elections office.

    How on earth can anyone be certain that Runbeck doesn’t tamper with these votes? The county election department is bound by election laws, but who oversees private contractors? I would guess no one.

    As it turns out, the first election that Brakey and March monitored in Maricopa was the Presidential primary on February 05, 2008; and one of the results of the Republican primary was that McCain won the Vote-By-Mail count by almost two to one, yet he lost in the precincts 49% to 51%.

    Whoa! I’m a physicist with good comprehension of statistics, and while I’ve not had time to work the numbers of this particular case, it does sound like it will turn out to be “statistically impossible” — that is, one chance in a trillion or less of being a random accident. And if it is NOT a random accident, it would have to have resulted from gross computer or human error (either of which could be criminally deliberate).

    I did, however, carry out a complete binomial analysis of the disparity between the results of the 2008 New Hampshire Democratic primary where Barack Obama led Hillary Clinton by 53.25% to 46.75% in the handcounted ballots …but Obama LOST to Clinton by 47.27% to 52.73% in the computer-counted ballots. You can read all about this at this link:
    http://www.opednews.com/articles/opedne_david_gr_080131_was_the_new_hampshir.htm

  2. Jeff Rogers is the worst thing that ever happened to the Pima Democratic Party. It was run very well under Vince Rabago, Donna Branch-Gilby and the guy before her who all supported election integrity. When Rogers got in, it was all about supporting the Democrats, even if they were part of the problem, even if they were crooks, covering for crooks, etc. So many voters are so turned off to the Democrats right now, that I guess they DO have to steal elections in order to stay in power because those of us registered Democratic voters are sick of their all-talk-no-action behaviors.

    Thanks to Jeff, an attorney named Roger White, the state party, Don Bivens, and a few others in the Democratic Party in Pima County, Arizona, I purposely did NOT vote for several Democrats, including Terry Goddard and WILL NOT vote for them in the general election. My vote is my voice, and if the head of the party and the attorney general support stealing my vote, and attack the people trying to ensure I have my right to vote and it be counted accurately, then they do not deserve any support.

    It is the attitude of Jeff Rogers that turns off voters because uber partisian hacks are ruining this country, just as the corporations who are buying out these people and elections are. So disgusting that a UK publication has to cover this because we can’t get any real reporting in the US corporate media.

  3. Denis, you have done some good coverage of the Arizona election bull over the years. Any chance you will be putting up a post on Huffington Post about all this? Granted, you need a really eye catching headline or it won’t get read there, but they do have a huge following and it would be good to have you combine the two articles (here and at Truth Out) into one concise read. Everyone is talking about our illegal immigration bill, and what they don’t discuss is how corporations are at the root of the problem both with illegal immigration and voting/elections which ensures we as a people will never have power or democracy here.

    I get depressed every time I go to vote here, knowing the likelihood is my vote really isn’t counting anyway.

  4. Here is a little more detail on Arizona

    When It Comes To Election Integrity In Arizona There’s Nothing Like Having An “Elephant in the Room” Or At Least A “Big Donkey”.
    By John R Brakey.

    I’ve learned over the last 9 years that there are basically three types of oversight of election in our country; one is Candidate, the 2nd is Party and the 3rd is Public oversight. I’ve learned that the first two suck, because the issue becomes political and partisan. It’s got to be about Truth and Justice over Politics! Not that “our candidate is better then their candidates for Governor”.

    After all, this wasn’t the first time the “Big Donkey” Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard cleared Pima County of wrong doing by a joint investigation by his office and the suspects or secretly confiscating the ballots and other evidence, breaking the chain of custody. See Letter Of July 14, 2008 To Terry Goddard With Exhibits From Attorney Bill Risner.

    NOTE: this is not an exhaustive list of problems with elections in Pima County or the RTA race specifically. There are many more issues and it will one day take a book to outline everything.

    In the case of elections, complexity, specialization, corruption, and marginalization techniques are enemies of the people. Modern computerized elections operate through systematic secrecy that robs citizens of access to information, full participation, and transparency in the counting process. As a result we are blind to election irregularities and fraud.

    http://audit-az.blogspot.com/2010/08/when-it-comes-to-election-integrity-in.html

    for more Arizona Election Integrity News
    http://www.audit-az.blogspot.com
    and SEEKING JUSTICE
    http://www.seekingjusticeauditaz.blogspot.com

    “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead

    “Make yourself sheep and the wolves will eat you.” — Benjamin Franklin

    “There is no safety for honest men except by believing all possible evil of evil men.” — Edmund Burke

  5. A computer count makes me think of when you have a tradesman round to, say, quote you for decorating the house. He goes from room to room, tapping into a calculator, and eventually says “Hmm, well that’s going to be 2,700”. Surely not, you protest, and he holds the calculator up in front of your face and says “Look, there it is in black and white”.

    Unless you are a fool, it pretty quickly occurs to you that you have no idea *what numbers he was tapping in* – therefore the figure on the display proves nothing other than the man wants to charge you 2,700. So you ask him if he’ll kindly prepare you a paper quote, itemising all that, when he gets back to his office. And if you wouldn’t trust decorating your house to a figure conjured up on a display without a credible audit trail, why would you want to let an election – the most essential element of representative democracy – go that easily?

    At the risk of putting words in Denis’s mouth, I think his experience of the recent UK general election may have added to his determination to speak out on this.

    My country is sometimes rightly derided for its adherence to meaningless traditions, like the silly wigs worn by our courtroom lawyers, the archaic costumes of the officers who open Parliament and the excessive uniforms of the soldiers who ceremoniously guard the Queen. I will defend none of those, but the good old hand-counted paper ballot I certainly will.

    As Denis saw at the count he went to in Wales, every box is accounted for, and unsealed in public. Every paper is in open view. Candidates and/or their representatives can watch the counting from as close as they wish, and all parties are invited to view papers that are ‘spoiled’. Often the candidates will jointly concur that certain papers are, if not marked according to the strict rules, clear in their intention, and agree to them being added to one pile or another. In short, the whole business is transparent.

    Certainly we have recounts when the voting is close, but claims against the integrity or legitimacy of a UK ballot are very rare. I’ve no doubt many Americans would say “Yes, well, that’s all well and good for a small European country, but…” The answer I would give to them is to forget how small the UK looks in an atlas or on a globe. Our population is a few hundred thousand more than that of the two biggest US states – California and Texas – added together. If we can do it, then no American state is too big.

Leave a Comment