[Election-Methods] Tucson AZ may put scanned ballots on internet

Jan Kok jan.kok.5y at gmail.com
Thu Jan 17 09:21:40 PST 2008

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From:  <JOcall7868 at aol.com>
Date: Jan 17, 2008 7:14 AM
Subject: [electionwatcher2008] Tucson AZ may put voter's records on
the Internet in response to Democrat's law suit
To: electionwatcher2008 at yahoogroups.com

Published: 01.16.2008

County OKs paper ballots going online after voting
Dems sought databases from all past elections
By Erica Meltzer
If you question the accuracy of Pima County's vote tabulations, maybe
you should do it yourself.
You could, if a plan approved by the Board of Supervisors to scan all
400,000 ballots in the next election and post them on-line ever comes
to fruition.
A Pima County Superior Court judge ruled last month the county had to
release the final databases from the 2006 primary and general
elections, but not all databases from previous elections, as the
Democrats requested in a lawsuit. The supervisors agreed to release
the Regional Transportation Authority election databases after hearing
from dozens of angry activists last week.
But Attorney Bill Risner, who represents the Democrats, has filed
motions in Pima County Superior Court asking that election databases
always be considered public record and that they be made available to
the political parties within the window to challenge an election.
He also is seeking $792,900 in legal fees.
Rather than go along with that request, Supervisor Ramón Valadez
suggested making scans of the actual paper ballots available online
the night of the election.
"It's time we stop limiting the ability to determine the integrity of
the election to computer gurus," Valadez said.
Valadez said the ballots should be organized by precinct to allow
voters to check their own precinct ― and hence their own ballot. The
ballot itself does not contain any information that identifies the
The supervisors voted 3-2 Tuesday to direct staff to develop a way to
put the ballots online and oppose the Democratic Party's motion to
amend the judge's findings, as well as oppose Risner's request for
attorney's fees.
They also want the secretary of state to weigh in on the county's side
in the legal battle.
Valadez and Supervisor Sharon Bronson, both Democrats, and Republican
Supervisor Ann Day voted yes. Republican Supervisor Ray Carroll and
Democratic Supervisor Richard Elías voted no.
Elías wanted the county to negotiate a settlement with the Democratic
Party to find a way to release information in a timely manner to the
political parties while protecting the security of the computer codes.
Valadez would not discuss that option from the dais, and his motion
carried. Valadez said after the meeting that it was "time to stop
feeding the lawyers" and that negotiating would generate more legal
However, it is possible the issue will end up back in court. That's up
to the judge after he reviews the motions from both sides.
In the meantime, it is not clear how the scanned ballots will be made
available online quickly.
There are 468,886 registered voters in Pima County, and in the last
presidential election, when there were 20,000 fewer registered voters,
367,492 people cast ballots.
The scanners that count votes do not capture an image of each ballot.
The scanner would need some way to convert the ballot to a PDF as it
is scanned.
And it is likely the Department of Justice will need to sign off on
any county plan.
County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry said he did not know how long
it will take to figure out how to post the ballots, but it would not
be available in time for the Feb. 5 presidential preference election.
The next scheduled countywide election is Sept. 2, the date of the
primary for state and county offices.
Carroll said he didn't understand why the county would undertake an
expensive and technologically difficult process rather than consider
the requests from the Democratic Party.
"It seems like putting the cart before the horse," he said.
But Valadez said voters should be able to see and believe in the
election results.
"What could be more transparent than that?" he said.

● Contact reporter Erica Meltzer at 807-7790 or emeltzer at azstarnet.com.


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