In the case of elections, complexity, specialization, corruption, marginalization techniques, are enemies of the people. They take away access to, participation, transparency in the counting process, and blind us to the awareness of election irregularities and fraud through the mysteries of our modern electronic elections.
A year ago Tuesday, April 21, 2009 Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard held a press conference in Tucson to announce the completion of the RTA ballot hand count examination by his office. I was present to hear his pronouncement that he could “find no evidence that there was tampering with the election.” At first I wanted to believe Terry Goddard and thanked him - you can see that on video. Fortunately Mari Herreras of the Tucson Weekly was there and filed a records request practically on the spot. After receiving the requested documents we learned that the devil was in the details. Furthermore, what we found scared me, to completely have the finding reviewed and audited. That’s why we went to Ellen Theisen of Voters Unite Org and here is her report: http://www.votersunite.org/info/SignificantDiscrepanciesInComparisonOfRTAResults.pdf
My complete review of the video of Attorney General Goddard's press conference statement has prompted me to explain in some detail why his investigation, despite its theatrical aspects, was critically incomplete.
It is important to examine the RTA investigation by the Attorney General for what it teaches us about election security in the future. The conclusion we have learned is that every effort must be made to make sure that election cheating cannot occur in the first place. Once an election is rigged, the political system unites to prevent examination or challenge.
The key defect and the glaring omission of the Goddard examination was their absolute refusal either to examine the ballots themselves to determine if they were the original ballots or to permit the political parties to conduct a simple, quick and non-destructive examination.
It the April 21st press conference Jim March, the Libertarian Party designated observer at the RTA hand count, asked this question:
Jim March: “Was any attempt made to determine the authenticity of the paper ballots in your possession? In other words, did you check to see if they were printed on a Runbeck offset printer as opposed to a more modern laser printer, which both Pima and Maricopa County have in their possession?”
Terry Goddard: “No. Our criminal investigation can only focus on those items for which we believe we have reasonable suspicion and the substitution of thousands of ballots is not an item that had been raised that we felt came to that level. I've not seen any credible evidence that anybody is out to testify that there might have been a substitution of ballots. You can't go through a forensic analysis for something for which you have no reasonable suspicion that it might have happened.
I don't mean to belittle any possible suspicion, but in the context of a criminal investigation, we don't start by eliminating every possibility, we start by taking evidence and focusing on that for which we have probable cause or reasonable suspicion: in this case, that a crime might have been committed.
Raising a criminal suspicion is something we do only with a strong showing that we have something to go on. We did not have the opportunity to do the forensic discussion that was just described. Maybe in a perfect world, we would try to eliminate every possibility of tampering that could ever be out there, but that's not the world of criminal investigation. We have to start with the suspicion that we believe is justified before we go to the expense of the public to do what we have done today.”
WHAT IS THE BACKGROUND OF THAT QUESTION AND LENGTHY ANSWER AND IS IT IMPORTANT?
The Pima County Democratic Party first asked for the Attorney General's office to examine the ballots in 2007. They refused to do so. As Attorney General Goddard explained at his press conference, “it took a while for me to get to that point in this investigation.” (SEE TIME LINE OF EVENTS BELOW) While Goddard was getting to that point, the ballots sat in storage controlled by Pima County officials who included the suspects of what would be a major crime if it had occurred. Their motive to substitute ballots would have been of the highest order.
Could Pima County have printed new ballots? (Video of how it could have been done ) Yes, and quite easily. Pima County owns a ballot printing machine. It is known as the “ballot-on-demand” system. That machine can immediately print any ballot for any precinct of the RTA election, last fall's primary or general election or any other recent election. It can do so because the “GEMS” election computer database retains the printing instructions known as “ballot definition files.”
The original ballots were printed on an offset press by the Runbeck Election Services in Glendale, Arizona.
The unused RTA ballots were reportedly destroyed by Runbeck in June of 2006. If Pima County wanted to print new ballots, they could most easily print them using their own ballot printing machine. Pima County's machine uses a laser printer. That printer is simply a computer with GEMS instructions connected to an Okidata laser printer.
In a personal experiment, Jim March used a microscope and noted that the offset printed ballots from Runbeck had “clean” margins on the printed material while laser printed material had observable “toner spray” on the margins. He showed, therefore, that by simply putting a ballot under a microscope one can determine if it was printed on an offset press or a laser printer.
Jim March photographed samples of each and sent to the Attorney General's office copies of the photographs and a description of what to look for. He requested that they look at the ballots as he had demonstrated. Jim brought a microscope with him to Phoenix and kept it available for such an examination in the observation room on the other side of the glass window to the counting area.
The Pima County Democratic Party Chairman spoke on the telephone with Attorney General Goddard and asked for our observer to be able to use a hand lens. Goddard agreed, but his personnel at the scene refused.
Bill Risner attorney for the Democratic Party, made a written request that the Attorney General investigators conduct a forensic examination of the ballots themselves or permit us to do so. In a highly unusual and significant vote, the entire Executive Committee of the Pima County Democratic Party requested the Attorney General's office to conduct such an examination or permit us to use the microscope ourselves.
The Attorney General refused in a letter from Criminal Division Chief Counsel Donald Conrad, the lawyer in charge of the investigation, to Pima County Democratic Party Chairman Jeffrey Rogers, dated April 10, 2009.
Three days later, on April 13, 2009, Bill Risner responded to Mr. Conrad on various matters including the requested ballot examination.
Bill Risner wrote: " Your April 10 letter contains a paragraph concerning examination of the ballots that I do not understand. It appears that we may not have made ourselves clear. You state that “several people have brought to our attention their concerns that false ballots were printed and included in the final count of votes in the RTA election.” You then conclude that your office won't examine the ballots unless proof is first provided that such a fraud did occur. In other words, you won't ask the questions unless the answer is first assured. That approach is backward to any investigative technique that I am familiar with.
More importantly, your answer relates to an allegation that we did not make. No one, to our knowledge, has suggested that false ballots were printed and included in the final count of the RTA election. As your office has learned, it is very easy for Pima County to cheat using either the GEMS computer system or the “cropscanner” memory card programming device that they purchased. If those easy methods were used for the RTA, the question arises as to the validity of the contents of the ballot boxes.
We know the Pima County Elections Department owns a ballot printing machine. We do not know the security of those ballots at Iron Mountain. Therefore, we made the elemental suggestion that a noninvasive and non-destructive examination of a sample of the ballots could be done using a microscope. Jim March, the Libertarian Party's named observer, had such a microscope at your facility all last week. From our viewpoint, such an examination would have been both simple and elemental."
Mr. Goddard's statement at the press conference that his office “did not have the opportunity to do the forensic discussion that was just described” is simply wrong. The opportunity was present during the entire ballot counting process. Likewise, the issue of “expense” to the public is non-existent since such an examination in their presence or by them would be at no cost. Mr. Goddard began his press conference by explaining that the ballots in the possession of his office were always under the supervision of two or more police officers and at least two different security devices. He explained that those precautions were necessary “if in fact we determined that a major difference was found between the hand count and the previously reported count, that we would be able to proceed to trial without damaging the evidence involved.”
As the hand count demonstrated, there were only small differences between the reported count and the hand count. Therefore, his investigators knew from the first day that there would not be a major difference and that those precautions were unlikely to be necessary.
The Democratic and Libertarian parties wanted a sample of the ballots examined under a microscope so that the public could be assured that the ballots cast were the ballots counted. It was a goal that the Attorney General shared in words if not deed. As Mr. Goddard explained, it was “important to have as much transparency as we could, and I want to emphasize this, consistent with a thorough criminal investigation.”
Mr. Goddard described the criminal investigation process as requiring “probable cause or reasonable suspicion” before any single piece of evidence in their possession could be examined. It's the same formulation as his chief criminal deputy who wouldn't examine the ballots unless proof was first provided that such a fraudulent substitution had occurred.
The Attorney General wanted a witness to testify before they would look. He said “I've not seen any credible evidence that anybody is out to testify that there might have been a substitution of ballots.”
YES, it is truly astonishing that the Attorney General would ignore a request from the Executive Committee of the largest political party in Pima County for his office to simply put a sample of the ballots under a microscope. If his office felt that they had enough suspicion in the first place for the investigation, they should have examined the ballots sufficiently to put these matters to rest.
The existence of motive, opportunity and means to accomplish a ballot switch was irrelevant to his office without an eye witness or confession first.
This quite intentional avoidance of basic forensic examination brings to mind the first examination by the Attorney General of the regular printing of actual vote tallies days or weeks in advance of election day by the Pima County Election Department. The Attorney General accepted the explanation of Bryan Crane that he printed those tallies in order to confirm that the “heads” that optically read the ballots were operating properly. That explanation contradicted his earlier sworn testimony that he had printed the tallies in order to write down a “cards cast number” and within “seconds” would shred the tallies on an office shredder. That “explanation” further contradicted the testimony of his assistant, Robbie Evans, Jr.
Prior to their interview of Mr. Crane, the Attorney General's office had been given the name of Mr. Crane's assistant of four years, Robbie Evans Jr., and were informed that he would explain that such tallies were regularly printed so that the election department would know who was losing and who was winning. The Attorney General's investigators chose not speak to Mr. Evans.
At the “database” trial, Mr. Evans testified under oath that the Pima County Election Division printed pre-election tallies so regularly that Pima County paid for a rubber stamp to be made to stamp them as “unofficial tallies.” He further testified that the Pima County Election Director regularly came in to obtain his own copy to take back to his office. Other copies were kept at a table in the computer room. His testimony cannot be reconciled with the unexamined explanation accepted by the Attorney General.
The conclusion that we draw from our experience with the Attorney General's office is that they will go to extra-ordinary lengths not to effectively investigate and not to prosecute.
THEIR OFFICE IS NOT ALONE IN THAT ATTITUDE.
A Superior Court judge ruled that the court “had no jurisdiction” to consider election fraud in the RTA even if it was accepted as a fact that it had been rigged. Of course, the Pima County Attorney's office has spent years and hundreds of attorney hours attempting to prevent election transparency.
What has been proven to my satisfaction is that no election can be challenged after the fact. At least no election that involves a lot of money, such as the $2 billion RTA road plan and tax increase.
In view of the agreed-upon fact that our elections can easily be rigged using the secret computer software, we must make changes before an election to prevent fraud in the first place.
We now know the only reason Goddard took the ballots is because Bill Risner had made a deal with Beth Ford attorney to get the Poll tapes and Risner asked Goddard to send an agent to protect the Chain of Custody, very soon after the Ballot disappeared with an “Secret Order from a Secret Judge”. We have it on film: http://www.channels.com/episodes/6847833
TIMELINE OF QUESTIONABLE EVENTS LEADING TO THE 2ND RTA CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION BY TERRY GODDARD AND THE TAKING OF THE BALLOTS TO MARICOPA:
• 2/13/09 A must read: AZ Daily Star “Goddard: Recount for 'curiosity' not allowed” http://www.azstarnet.com/sn/byauthor/280076 "If they can bring us viable information we would continue to investigate it. They haven't. They've brought us what I can only describe as a wild story," Goddard said.
• 2/18/09 Bill Risner informed the AG that he had reached agreement to finally get the Poll tapes. “The Democratic Party expects to be able to access the poll tapes in the coming weeks. We, of course, need to get these before Beth Ford, the Pima County Treasurer, destroys the ballots. We are concerned about the retrieval process itself, however, because we want to make sure that the evidence is not contaminated. Since your office is conducting your own investigation, we invite you to participate in the poll tape retrieval. Your participation would serve to preserve the integrity of that evidence, should it ultimately be needed.”
• 2/19/09 Bill Risner is told by Attorney for the Treasurer’s office John Richardson that the AG Office is now interested and is going to seize the ballots
• 2/20/09 By Andrea Kelly Arizona Daily Star “AG asks for Pima County's transportation election ballots”
• 2/23/09 Bill Risner Letter to AG Terry Goddard regard the secret order.pdf
• 2/23/09 in court AG office presents a secret court order to take the ballots. Got it on film: http://www.channels.com/episodes/6847833
• 2/25/09 the ballots are moved from a secure facility “Iron Mountain’ by AG office to a secret location. Video Where are the Ballots?: http://www.fatallyflawedthemovie.com/pages/stolenballots.html
• 4/06/09 we can see at the hand count that the AG Office compromised chain of custody; the ballots were not securely handled; boxes were not secrecy-taped; the AG gave no accounting for the location of the ballots from 2/25/09 until they arrived at Maricopa Election Department about May 1st. Bill Risner, Jeff Rogers and the Executive Committee’s Resolution of Pima DEMs asked to have polltapes separated and have ballots checked for being original 2006 ballots – this did not happen. Transparency requires that the public be advised of the ballot chain of custody, where the ballots during that time. After ballots are counted their packed back in the boxes, sealed, signed, proper chains of custody is done and that what should have been done when they took the ballots out of Iron Mountain a secure storage facility.
• 04/10/09 AG Goddard to PCDP Chair Jeff Rogers No Evidence to check- Bull .pdf
• 4/21/09 AG Terry Goddard hold a press conference basically said we did such a good job that we found 67 extra ballots. When in fact we learned latter that he was missing four precincts. See Ellen Theisen of VotersUnited.org Report
We know the only reason Goddard took the ballots is because Bill Risner had made a deal with Beth Ford attorney to get the Poll tapes and Risner asked Goddard to send an agent to protect the Chain of Custody, very soon after the Ballot disappeared with an “Secret Order from a Secret Judge”. Got it on film: http://www.channels.com/episodes/6847833
This Is Not The First Time Terry Goddard Cleared Pima County - See Letter Of July 14, 2008 To Terry Goddard With Exhibits From Attorney Bill Risner.
The databases pointed us to the need to inspect poll tapes. From that examination of the databases for the 2006 special election, we learned that 85 separate precinct memory cards were at least loaded once to as many as 6 times starting at 10:15 pm election night. No backup of the database was made election night Tuesday May 16th as always had been done. In fact no backup was made until Friday May 19th at 5:01 pm. Why you may ask? Well, that is simple: they didn’t want to leave any evidence of wrongdoing. To have a flip, then you have to have a flop, no backup made, no evidence of misdeeds, except the database shows the time when the reloads were done and how many times it was done.
Importantly, the poll tapes will have date and time on them, how many votes were cast and are signed by the poll workers at the precinct – they are a solid record of election day results that is difficult to tamper with after the fact.
• Will they match what in the final database?
• Will they have evidence of the “cropscanner” being used?
• Will they still be there?
• Have the poll tapes already been destroyed?
• Why has the county worked and spent so much money keeping this out of the public view?
• Why does the County agree to give us the poll tapes next August?
Again: what are they hiding?
Bill Risner and Jody Gibbs in this video explain what many don’t want to believe, but the facts are saying it too. Link to Video: http://www.channels.com/episodes/6847833#/
“CHAIN-OF-CUSTODY”When AG office took boxes they did nothing to protect the “chain-of-custody”.
Transparency requires that the public be advised of the ballot “chain-of-custody”, where the ballots during that time. And should be sealed properly with “security tape” and signed.
However the Chain-of Custody is not done correctly only after the AG hand count is done.
Boxes of ballots are also signed by all who handled them.
Placing the AG evidence seal on boxes after the fact – not at the time of pickup.
After ballots are counted their packed back in the boxes, sealed, signed, proper chains of custody is done and that what should have been done when they took the ballots out of Iron Mountain a secure storage facility.
Thomas Jefferson’s Powerful Words:
"It would be a dangerous delusion were a confidence in the men of our choice to silence our fears for the safety of our rights: that confidence is every where the parent of despotism: (tyranny) free government is founded in jealousy and not in confidence; it is jealousy and not confidence which prescribes limited Constitutions to bind down those whom we are obliged to trust with power: that our Constitution has accordingly fixed the limits to which and no further our confidence may go."
Co-founder of AUDIT-AZ (Americans United for Democracy, Integrity, and Transparency in Elections, Arizona) & Co-Coordinator of Investigations Velvet Revolution
http://www.velvetrevolution.us My web site with Arizona Election Integrity News http://audit-az.blogspot.com and http://seekingjusticeauditaz.blogspot.com
Cell 520 339 2696
VR, EDA & AUDIT-AZ’s Mission: to restore public ownership and oversight of elections, work to ensure the fundamental right of every American citizen to vote, and to have each vote counted as intended in a secure, transparent, impartial, and independently audited election process.
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