24 January 2006

These problems suggest a systemic problem with election administration in Maricopa County

That, according to University of Iowa computer science professor Douglas Jones, one of the USA's leading experts on voting machine technology. An additional three percent block of votes is magically appears after a mandated machine recount, but yet, the state's newspaper of record wishes to cast this as merely a minor spat between county attorney Andrew Thomas and state senator Jack Harper. Harper, who's led an inquiry into election irregularities, has faced questions for allowing the Phoenix New Times to pay for an "election consultant".
Jones, who testified before Congress on voting-machine technology following the 2000 presidential election, was inspecting the county's tabulation machines to determine why 489 votes inexplicably appeared during a September 2004 recount of a state legislative race that changed the outcome of the election.

Jones says the appearance of the votes during the District 20 recount on September 21, 2004, appears to have been caused by either failure of the county's voting machines to accurately read ballots or illegal vote tampering. Jones says the only way to determine what happened beyond this is to visually inspect the District 20 ballots.

Now, it turns out, that the ballots are not even stored as directed by law and that some illegal handling may have occured.

Are other folks in Maricopa County puzzled as I am about these events?

  • Why is Andrew Thomas and others so vehemently opposed to examining the ballots? Doesn't the public have a right to ensure that the process of conducting elections is above board?

  • Why is Jan Brewer, Arizona secretary of state, dismissing election transparency advocates as "conspiracy theorists"? Are Arizonans supposed to just place blind trust in a process that's obviously flawed?

  • Is the interest to keep order and thus prop a facade up to conceal faulty and unreliable voting machine implementation of greater value than ensuring the validity of the voting process?

John Dougherty seems to be the only journalist on the investigative path here in a critical story that calls into question the integrity of our votes. Although, here is a summary recap, with a little blurb on what precipitated the problem.

…it all began after the September 7, 2004 primary election contest between two Republicans running to represent Maricopa County, Arizona's Legislative District 20 in the statehouse.

Candidate Anton Orlich was a scant 4 votes ahead of challenger John McComish after the initial count on Election Night. But later, after a recount was held on September 21, 2004, McComish ended up 13 votes ahead of Orlich after 489 new votes mysteriously appeared in the totals.

The mystery of those extra votes -- where they came from, and why Rebublican Maricopa County election officials have turned backflips to keep anyone from examining those ballots and the electronic tabulation machines used to scan them…


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