A Courtroom Report as Pima County Democrats Seek Public Records Access to Diebold Election Databases
PLUS: Deposition footage of chief election programmer, Bryan Crane
By Michael Bryan on 12/5/2007, 11:47pm PT  

Special to The BRAD BLOG by Michael Bryan from the courtroom in Tucson, AZ...

It was a day packed with testimony Wednesday in Tucson as the plaintiffs' attorney, Bill Risner, continued to crank through his witness list. The day ended with the last witness that will be called by the Democratic Party, Bryan Crane, whom Pima County Attorneys have repeatedly labeled "much maligned," just preparing for a rehabilitating friendly cross-examination by Pima County attorneys. Crane's testimony is pivotal to the case, and will be posted in its entirety tomorrow after cross and re-direct are complete.

To get up to speed with details on what this trial about, please see my introductory post, and if you missed yesterday's action, you may want to take a look at my summary of day one. In general, the Pima County (Tucson) Democratic Party, is challenging Pima County to release the Diebold GEMS tabulator databases containing voting data from the 2006 election on the presumption that it should be of public record. There is a belief that the databases, if obtained by the party, may show fraud and other malfeasance by county election officials. The county maintains that releasing such information will make tampering in future elections more feasible, even though those same county officials and insiders, currently have the easiest route to tampering with such elections, since they already have all the access they need to such information.

The witnesses on Wednesday included a slate of employees from the Pima County elections department. The summaries of the testimony of Isabel Araiza, Robert Evans, Chester Crowley, Romi Romero, and Mary Martinson are posted together on BlogForArizona.

These employees' testimony was sought by the plaintiffs to try to establish a pattern of negligent oversight and security procedures at the elections department, including the actions of head programmer, Bryan Crane (deposition video footage of Crane at bottom of this article), taking backups of election data home and illegally printing summaries that included current vote totals in the midst of elections and then sharing that data with persons not part of the election department.

The prime witnesses of the day, however, were Brad Nelson, the director of the elections department, Crane, the "much maligned" head programmer, and the man with responsibility for the entire bureaucracy, Chuck Huckleberry, the County Administrator...

The summary testimony of Brad Nelson and my commentary is available now on BlogForArizona. Summary testimony of Crane and Huckleberry will be available tomorrow.

A key goal for the plaintiffs was to demonstrate to the judge that Brad Nelson lacks the technical expertise, management acumen, judgment, and probity to adequately provide oversight of elections systems he really doesn't understand. Further, they seek to paint Nelson's over-reliance and trust in Bryan Crane as objectively unreasonable given his past performance. These conditions cut in favor of greater public scrutiny of the internal processes of managing the election.

The reason the plaintiffs seek to show the judge an election department that is mismanaged and chronically insecure is that they need to demonstrate a pressing public interest in access to the GEMS election database. Pima County has a burden to show that their interest in keeping the database confidential outweighs the public interest served by its release. They will have to begin to meet that burden tomorrow when they begin to put on their own expert witnesses.

As a preview of "much maligned" head programmer, Bryan Crane's testimony, below is a two-part video deposition taken in preparation for this case. Judge for yourself his credibility and likely performance under questioning...

Part 1:

Part 2: