State AG: 'These [Diebold] systems are very, very bad'...
By Brad Friedman on 4/17/2009, 12:05am PT  

The AP has finally noticed the long-sought criminal investigation ballot count of the 2006 Pima County (Tucson), AZ, special election. State Attorney General Terry Goddard's hand-count of the disputed Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) election was concluded, at least for now, in Phoenix on Wednesday. That's when AP filed its report on the matter that we've been covering here at The BRAD BLOG in a number of special reports and exclusives, in great detail, this week, last week, and for several years prior.

AP's coverage was fairly cursory (recent inside joke: AP didn't report who the AG's office had found to be the "leading vote-getter"), but it hit a few points worth noting, including one of the key take-aways from the entire, epic morality tale still playing out on behalf of the entire U.S., in Arizona:

Maricopa County election workers have been hand counting ballots from a 2006 Pima County transportation election to determine if the vote was rigged by tampering with optical-scan polling machines and turning “no” votes into “yes” votes.
...
What may be of even greater concern is the voting machines in Pima County, which includes Tucson, are similar to those used in 12 of Arizona’s 15 counties and in hundreds of jurisdictions across the country.

If it turns out the election was rigged by manipulating Diebold Elections Systems (now Premier Election Solutions Inc.) computer election programs, as some fear, it will show weaknesses in electronic balloting that could endanger the democratic process.

There you have it. That's why this story matters, and why it's far more than simply a "local story."

It also matters on a still-broader level because, even if the 2006 Tucson RTA election wasn't rigged --- and it's three years on, and nobody yet actually seems to know for certain --- due to the god-awful, privatized, untested, hackable, oft-failed, secret vote-counting machines we now use in our public elections, it's become virtually impossible to know if any elections counted on such machines were accurately tabulated.

AP notes that Goddard seems to finally be understanding that larger point, at least:

No matter which way the recount goes, state Attorney General Terry Goddard said he is convinced the equipment jeopardizes election integrity.

“These (Premier) systems are very, very bad,” Goddard said. “(They) are not state of the art in terms of security. They are not state of the art in terms of transparency.”

The Arizona Republic's Dennis Wagner pulled some details from AP's cursory coverage and augmented it substantially for more lengthy, detailed coverage filed on Wednesday as well, which we're happy to see and recommend.

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In a related note: Tucson election integrity advocate John Brakey saw charges against him dismissed by a judge today, following his arrest ordered by Pima County election officials last year during a state-mandated, post-election hand-count --- a statutory mandate that likely would not have existed were it not for Brakey's advocacy for such post-election "audits."

The county's case against him was so bad Brakey wasn't even required to put on his own defense before the judge dismissed the case entirely after hearing the county's testimony. The recent criminal investigation hand count carried out by Goddard, and all of the issues discussed above, would also likely never have come to light in Arizona, had it not been for the tenacity, courage, and tireless determination of Brakey. Exclusive details on today's dismissed charges against him posted earlier here...

As long promised, The BRAD BLOG has covered your electoral system 2008, fiercely and independently, like no other media outlet in the nation. Please support our work with a donation to help us keep going. If you like, we'll send you some great, award-winning election integrity documentary films in return! Details on that right here...