September 1, 2009
In its completely nontransparent investigation into the RTA election -- which included a hand-recount of what are purported to have been the actual RTA ballots, but under conditions precluding meaningful public observation -- the Arizona attorney general’s office declined to examine the poll tapes and certification evidence.
The attorney general's investigation also removed the poll tapes and certifications beyond the reach of election integrity investigators, who were pursuing those records in court when the attorney general intervened.
Legal action to get access to those records will continue, but at present, the RTA poll tapes and certification reports are boxed along with the RTA ballots and are at risk for destruction, depending on Judge Herrington's decision.
Poll tapes are records of the precinct election results printed out by the voting machines at the close of polls and signed by the pollworkers. End-of-day certification reports are statements also signed by the pollworkers attesting that the poll tape vote totals reconciled with the number of voters who cast ballots in the precinct.
Reconciling ballots with the signed poll tapes is standard auditing procedure that helps verify that votes being recounted are the same that were cast on election day. Conducting a "recount" without reconciling ballots, poll tapes, and certification reports, is a rubberstamping endorsement of unverified election results.
The suspect Pima County Elections Department owns a ballot printing machine. It is known as the “ballot on demand” system. That machine can immediately print any ballot for any precinct in the RTA election, or in last fall's primary or general election, or in 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 Company 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 type of printed ballot and sent copies of the photographs to the attorney general's office with 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.
Bill Risner, attorney for the Democratic Party, also sent a written request asking the attorney general's investigators to either conduct a forensic examination of the ballots themselves, or permit the citizen observers 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 citizen observers to inspect the ballots under a microscope.
These requests were all denied by the attorney general's officers in charge of the recount.
Was the attorney general's recount a cover-up of insider election fraud? That question can only be answered through direct public access to the actual RTA ballots, poll tapes, and certification reports.