After the disgraceful election debacle in Arizona, Bernie Sander’s presidential campaign enlisted the help of Chris Sautter, a nationally recognized media strategist, an award winning documentarian and an election attorney who has worked on virtually every major election recount over the last thirty years. Today, he visited the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors to publicly request that they refrain from certifying the election canvass until there is a proper accounting for 20,000 provisional ballots that have not yet been counted. This does not include the 8,500 provisional ballots in Pima County nor does it include those who’ve been turned away or who gave up while standing in line.
On March 22nd, Hillary Clinton was named the winner of the Arizona presidential primary with only 1% of the votes tallied and thousands still waiting in line. The day before, a poll conducted by the Justice Gazette favored Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton 60 to 40% in Phoenix. A similar projection favored Sanders with 56.2% over Hillary Clinton’s 43.8%. The Sanders campaign did not see a strong ground game in Arizona on behalf of Hillary Clinton. Still, the numbers somehow show an advantage for Clinton in the vote-by-mail totals and a disadvantage in the votes on election day. Although the Sanders campaign is primarily interested in merely getting the provisional ballots counted, the hashtag #REVOTEAZ is growing in popularity for the following reasons:
1. Voters in Arizona were rendered ineligible.
On March 22nd, voters throughout Arizona were told they were registered as an independent or no party affiliation and, as a result, were prohibited from voting in the primary. They filled out provisional ballots as the validity of their vote would be determined on a case-by-case basis according to Pima County Recorder F. Anne Rodriguez. Most of the voters belonged to one of the major parties and did not change their status. Alisa Wolfe, for one of many examples, was interviewed on KOLD. She was a registered Democrat and told that she wasn’t eligible to vote in the primary because her party affiliation was registered ‘party not designated’ and would not be able to vote.
The sheer volume of Sanders supporters discovering unexplained changes in their party affiliation is consistent with Arizona’s voter registration data being hacked and altered. Ely Diaz, a volunteer for the Sanders campaign, discovered that by March 20th, their campaign was told they could no longer use their customary get-out-the-vote phone app. When Diaz pressed the campaign workers for a reason, he was informed that Bernie’s voter list had been hacked.
It appears that the Arizona law prohibiting Independent voters was exploited through hacking into the Sanders list and changing their registration to prevent them from voting in last Tuesday’s primary.
Many voters were unable to vote on the actual primary ballots because their political parties were changed. Democrats that showed up to voting stations were told they were registered as Independent and unable to vote in the closed primary. They were handed provisional ballots.
2. The precinct votes were suppressed in Maricopa County
Maricopa County drastically reduced their polling locations from 200 to 60 which helped stem a turnout that was triple what it was four years ago. Lines would circle blocks as people would wait up to five hours without water for the long wait in arid weather or sufficient parking for the disabled.
A bomb threat caused the evacuation of the Pima County Public Service Center. The Recorder’s Office had been staffing a voter help line to answer questions about voter eligibility and the verification of provisional ballots. The bomb threat significantly hindered the verification of provisional ballots in a timely manner.
Another bomb threat evacuated the Pima County Attorney’s Office in the afternoon on the day of the primary.
A third bomb threat led to an evacuation of the Arizona Attorney General’s Office in Phoenix in that same afternoon. Overall, the bomb threats made it impossible for many voters to pursue a timely recourse on this election day.
According to Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan, one of her office’s polling place locators, a vendor website called “Voter View” was malfunctioning on election day and could not be used by voters to check their registration status.
Diane Post, a poll worker for 30 years, testified in a recent public hearing that she worked 18 hours on that day. She states “sometimes actually I had their card, selected ‘Dem’ and it would only give me Republican as an option. This started at 9:30am in morning. I called for an inspector to help, they couldn’t fix it. Happened all day.”
3. Arizona has a history of fraud and vote-by-mail is especially vulnerable.
In this election, AUDIT AZ founder John Brakey had noticed that Pima County Elections did not publicly commit the results prior to performing the hand-count audits.
Arizona law (A.R.S. § 16-602(1)) states:
“The unofficial vote totals from all precincts shall be made public before selecting the precincts to be hand counted.”
In last fall’s election, the Pima County Elections Department was caught trying to rig a bond election during the vote-by-mail count. An employee at the Pima County Elections Division broke into a sealed part of the central tabulator to hook up an ethernet connection. This occurred after the Logic and Accuracy (L&A) Test was completed and seals were placed prominently on the vulnerable parts of the system. Since live video feeds show a running total of the number of viewers during transmission, they probably did it when Pima County’s video feed left the impression that no one was looking. This occurred hours after John Brakey had left the observation room. Brakey drove five minutes from his house, spent a couple of hours writing and emailing a number of people about the L&A Test and, by habit, hit the hot link to the election department’s live feed. Moments later, he was watching the act take place before him.
Pima County Elections Director Brad Nelson had lied to the press, candidates and party observers about last Fall’s computer breach. He claimed that an errant employee committed the breach in order to complete the L&A Test, but that same test was already completed that morning.
Ballots could be gamed with impunity in the Vote-by-Mail (VBM) ballots. VBM ballots are not sorted by precinct except inside the central ‘hackable’ tabulator that could easily be preprogrammed to only alter ballot batches over a certain size, thus avoiding the random testing done by audit batches pulled for hand counting. That’s why the Volkswagen case is so meaningful to elections transparency activists. They rigged the testing in a similar fashion.
“…the cheating was preprogrammed into the algorithm that controlled the car’s emissions. Computers allow people to cheat in ways that are new. Because the cheating is encapsulated in software, the malicious actions can happen, far removed from the testing itself. Because the software is “smart” in ways that normal objects are not, the cheating can be subtler and harder to detect.”
“That’s why we must have software verification with two parts: Transparency and Oversight” which as we know in Arizona, neither exist. “Transparency means making the source code available for analysis. The need for this is obvious. It’s much easier to hide cheating software in the manufacturer’s code. Cheating on regulatory testing has a long history in corporate America.” By CNN Bruce Schneier: “VW scandal could just be the beginning”.
4. Vendors could easily affect the outcomes of these races.
In the small border county of Santa Cruz, Arizona, Brakey discovered that one vendor had become the hidden de facto statewide election director. Elections Operation Services, helmed by William E. Doyle, was popular among election directors in at least 12 counties in Arizona. He was discovered through a public records request issued to Santa Cruz Elections Director Melinda Meeks. She committed perjury when asked “who programs your elections databases?” We discovered that William E. Doyle actually programs the database and occasionally uploads them into an election department’s central tabulator. Shortly after Brakey’s discovery, Doyle retired. Who replaces Elections Operation Services?
The arrival of Chris Sautter in Arizona could be an indication that Sanders is the first presidential candidate willing to go the extra mile to support verifiable transparent elections for the electorate.
Attorney Chris Sautter Speaks with a Local Affiliate about Arizona’s Primary
Phoenix’s Fox 10 News Coverage