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Counting votes in secret - PHOTO - 'Let there be consequences'

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I'm posting this important photo, and this important article, from Jim March -- a member of our board of directors. -- Bev Harris

Secret Vote Counting in Pima -- by Jim March 

Above you see an unedited picture taken, per my camera's timestamp, at 7:04 p.m. tonight (3/10/09). It shows the shuttered, closed doors to the sole polling location for the city of South Tucson Arizona, moments after I asked to observe the closing of the polls.

The blinds were rolled closed in response to my request.

After all the headache trying to open this county election process to proper, lawful oversight, this is the result: Counting in complete secrecy.

A review of one of the core principles that founded this nation: Citizens have the inalienable RIGHT to self-government. No one has yet made a convincing argument that counting votes in secret can co-exist with self-government.

Now it should be noted that the state of Arizona allows only political parties (and NOT the public) to observe elections, which violates our right to self government (you can't control what you are not allowed to see). Worse, until recently this meant that "non-partisan" elections at the local government level received no scrutiny at all since parties were "not involved."

Senator Chuck Gray attempted to reform that latter issue to allow observation in nonpartisan elections and his 2008 bill SB1053 should have taken care of it – but local government officials are taking the questionable view that while central tabulator operations are now observable in non-partisan elections, poll closing activities are not

But even Arizona's limited observation was blocked in South Tucson on March 10. I hold credentials as a "party observer" and I am a member of the Pima County Election Integrity Commission, created by the Pima County Board of Supervisors. (more: )

BACKGROUND: On Mar. 10, 2009, Pima County conducted elections in three small towns: Marana, South Tucson and Sahuarita. Elections were conducted by the Pima County elections office, under the direction of each of the town clerks.


Brad Nelson, Pima County elections director, holds the democracy-blocking opinion that non-partisan elections are subject to no outside oversight at all because independent election observation in Arizona is deemed the function of political parties.

In all states, according to our founding documents, conducting ALL aspects of elections in public – that is, allowing any member of the public to watch – is an inalienable right, because the public cannot self-govern if government insiders conduct our elections in secret. Arizona prohibits public observation, violating this right.* Substituting observation by political parties does not honor our rights. But in Pima County, even Arizona's undemocratic and limited observations by political parties were not permitted on March 10.

* We still HAVE the right to public observations in Arizona, but the legislature refuses to honor this right. You cannot remove an inalienable right by legislating against it; fundamental rights, like freedom and self-government, can be obstructed with laws but laws cannot take away these right.


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Bev Harris is executive director of Black Box Voting, Inc. an advocacy group committed to restoring citizen oversight to elections.
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