Pima County’s EIC Deliberated for Eight Months about the Predicament of Ballot Images Already Destroyed by Pima County Elections

J.T. Waldron

Arizona election integrity advocates learned that the biggest lies are found not in the lie itself, but in what was purposefully left out.  They learned this through Pima County and its elections division.

Those following Arizona’s infamous election shenanigans may remember the story of how Pima County’s Election Integrity Commission (EIC) spent a great deal of time and effort establishing the importance of physically separating vote-by-mail ballots into their precincts before commencing with their legally required one-percent hand count audit.

Prior to all of this effort and discussion taking place, a memo had surfaced during litigation that showed how Elections Director Brad Nelson had secretly solicited a waiver from the Secretary of State excusing Pima County from taking this very step.  At that time, AZ Secretary of State Ken Bennett had already agreed to this waiver, so Pima County was the only voting district not required to do this separation before the audit.

After this waiver was quietly requested and granted, Pima County’s representation in these meetings was taped as they feigned ignorance about the waiver and continued to sit in and listen as the EIC deliberated for hours over the importance of that very same waived procedure.

AUDIT-AZ founder John Brakey addresses the EIC. (Video below).

This behavior is abhorrent enough, but if you imagine an entity engaging in this sort of deception for eight months, you may get a sense of how flippant and disrespectful Pima County acts towards its own commission as well as the electorate.

Last fall, new voting machines were introduced to a number of Arizona counties, including Pima.   These machines are called ES&S DS850’s and they have a very helpful auditing technology using graphical scans of the ballots counted.  A graphical scan is made of each ballot that is run through the machine.  The resulting ballot image is what the machine actually uses to count with, so it becomes an integral part of the ballot chain-of-custody.

Pima County’s Election Integrity Commission, a volunteer organization that Pima County developed as a result of litigation surrounding a rigged bond election, meet regularly to discuss various issues involving election transparency.  The goal of most of its members is to improve the integrity of elections in Pima County.

This time, members interested in election integrity saw a great opportunity in the ballot images generated by these new voting machines. The images, as a public record, could be used to help verify the count.

During the process of finding the best way to proceed with verifying elections that took place this year, EIC Chair Tom Ryan, a computer professor from the University of Arizona, begun working with the county to host talks by ES&S Vice President Ken Carbullido and statistician Dr. Phillip Stark. In lengthy deliberations lasting through two elections, the commission recommended incorporating any one of three options for a reliable technique to use ballot images as a means of verifying the count.

That’s when Pima County Elections employee Tom Quigley let slip that they have destroyed all the ballot images. They had been destroying them regularly after each day’s count during the elections.

The ballot images themselves are crucial to the chain of custody for all of the elections that took place since last fall, including the Arizona Primary election. So a Federal election had its chain of custody destroyed.

The excuse? Director Nelson tried to claim that the images where too memory intensive to fit in a 40 gigabyte partition. This was quickly dismissed by members as it was determined that all the ballot images in a Pima County election require approximately 24 gigabytes.

So, once again, Pima County misled their own Election Integrity Commission by failing to disclose that those ballot images they were deliberating about for eight months had already been destroyed.  John Brakey filed a public records request covering a variety of documents and files surrounding ES&S and Pima Elections.

When Secretary of State Michelle Reagan was alerted of this dilemma, she put forth the specious argument that she can’t approve of using ballot images to verify elections without legislation creating a law that permits her to do so. As Jim March Simpson from BlackBoxVoting puts it:

That’s not how public records laws work.  If the stuff exists and the legislature has NOT exempted it, it’s wide open.

The AZ SoS has it exactly backwards.

Jim March Simpson was an integral part of the litigation against Pima County that yielded the largest batch of electronic elections data in U.S. history.

In the EIC meeting that followed, John Brakey addressed what he had observed and heard since last December and why there was no valid reason for destroying the ballot images.

Below is an audio clip of Pima Elections employee Tom Quigley’s revelation that the ballot images are destroyed.

3 thoughts on “Pima County’s EIC Deliberated for Eight Months about the Predicament of Ballot Images Already Destroyed by Pima County Elections

  • August 19, 2016 at 8:50 pm

    It seems the very reason the state invested in new ballot machines was to ensure a record of transactions. The act of destroying those images was a deliberate act to destroy the very reason for the purchase. Legal action MUST be taken. The option is to just allow the county officials to pick the winner and dispense with the pretense of citizen participation. There is no point whatsoever for all those people to take time out of their day, in many cases the entire day, and wait in a line deliberately made impossible for many only to be told it was an exercise in futility. A few state officials had already decided the outcome and done what ever cheating and committed whatever fraud was necessary to ensure their personal rights at the expense of the rights of the many. If the very basis of Democracy itself is destroyed, what are we advocating? Not anything Constitutional. The only possible way to make this right is to hold and immediate re-vote to determine the actual will of the people. Anything less is to condone the fraud.

    • August 19, 2016 at 9:31 pm

      Here here Charlene agree !

  • August 20, 2016 at 10:06 am

    Wow! The Secretary of State Michelle Reagan has kick the can down the road! Read below what she said. Personally, I am so sick of election officials hiding behind the legislature, and demanding that we pass laws to make them do their jobs! In a way that no other public official does. Have you EVER seen any other public official other than an ELECTIONS official destroying automatically created records, or refusing to verify their computers’ output? Can you imagine a state revenue secretary demanding specific laws be passed to require him to retain records or to make sure the state’s revenue statements were accurate?

    Fact! “That’s not how public records laws work. If the stuff exists and the legislature has NOT exempted it, it’s wide open. The AZ SoS has it exactly backwards.” Jim March Simpson was an integral part of the litigation against Pima County that yielded the largest batch of electronic elections data in U.S. history out of Pima County.

    Another Fact: Most Election Fraud committed is done by insiders, a vendor or employee. The only real safeguard is real hand count transparent verifiable elections audits. The hand counts we do in Arizona is a joke! Please allow me to put things into perspective. Pima county will do 4% check (state law is 2% but do to the fact Brad Nelson had me false arrested it went to 4% in Pima Co) on 10% of the precinct vote cast on election day yet will only perform a useless 1% check by batches on 90% of the vote by mail that is not sorted by precinct.

    Testimony of various members of the Pima County’s Election Transparency Commission (PCEIC) just prior to your election department’s clandestine solicitation to get a waiver from the Secretary of State foregoing sorting of ballots by precinct Video link: https://youtu.be/4y2wBXZ9R8c

    You should understand that by now a meaningful audit of ballots includes sorting by precinct and then comparing the total result against the publicly declared precinct results. This is how fair elections have been conducted for centuries. See this short video of 8 minutes. https://youtu.be/w3_0x6oaDmI Stop counting in Vote by Mail batches with no meaningful audit value.

    Volts Wagon (VW) proved that testing could easily be rigged. The Volkswagen case is so meaningful to elections transparency activists, VW rigged the testing. “…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.”

    History teaches us that elections without public accountability are nothing more than vote-counting in the dark, controlled by a county government, in the act of choosing itself and its cronies, while picking our pockets. Our message is simple at AUDIT AZ: “We the People”, must have elections that are 100% transparent, that are completely verifiable, with a documented ‘chain-of-custody’, followed by full mandatory election verification! Nothing less! Government can never be the sole verifier of its own secret elections like we have in Arizona.

    We would not tolerate this sort of resistance to auditing for a MOMENT in any other government function. Enough is enough!


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