Election integrity is not a partisan issue; Election integrity is a civic responsibility.
Election integrity is why, in Arizona, several citizens advocacy groups (AUDIT AZ; Arizona Citizens for Election Reform, www.aceronline.org; Arizona Citizens for Fair Elections, www.azfairelections.org; MC-CAFÉ), the Arizona Democratic Progressive Caucus, many PDA members, individuals of differing opinions and political parties, legislators from both parties, and even interested media have begun to work together to guarantee elections are honest and accurately counted. Realizing that we are all in this together, that theres not just a hole in your end of the boat, but that the hole in the boat threatens to sink us all, honest Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Libertarians, and people of all parties are working to help Arizona State Senator Jack Harper (R) get to the bottom of a Republican primary election recount where more votes mysteriously appeared. An as yet unexplained found 489 votes changed the outcome of the election. Senator Harper is receiving intense resistance to finding the truth about the recount by the mostly Republican elections officials in Arizona.
Also, the Arizona State Democratic Party has adopted two election integrity initiatives, led by PDA members, of the Arizona Democratic Progressive Caucus. The first was to form an Election Integrity Committee, the only of its kind at the state party level in the U.S. The second was passage of the Resolution for Public Oversight and Transparency of Arizona Elections to Block Purchase of DRE Voting Machines. Senator Harper, a Republican, has reached out to the Democratic Party Chair, Senator Harry Mitchell (D), to form a bi-partisan Election Integrity Caucus in the Arizona State Legislature. Support for this unprecedented bi-partisan Election Integrity Caucus in the Arizona State Legislature is gaining support from both sides of the aisle.
No good deed goes unpunished.
Senator Harper and I couldnt be more polar political opposites, but, he has sought to get to the truth of election integrity in Arizona with the purest of motives. He challenged the LD 20 Republican primary election recount using his position as the Republican Chair of the Senate Government Accountability and Reform Committee. His actions have been to hire an expert and to issue a subpoena to release the ballots for an independent evaluation. Sen. Harper proposed to hire computer scientist Professor Douglas Jones, Iowa State University, a renowned expert in voting machine functions and election integrity (www.cs.uiowa.edu/~jones/). The subpoena to allow access to the ballots is being defied by Arizona Secretary of State Jan Brewer (R), the Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas (R), the Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell (R), and the Maricopa County Elections Director Karen Osborne (D). Sen. Harpers boss, Senate President Ken Bennet (R), denied Harpers request for Dr. Jones expenses but he did not prevent Sen. Harper from finding independent funding. Sen. Harper has received nothing but resistance, criticism, name calling, and character assassination from members of his own party and the Republican owned media in Arizona. Sen. Harper has been scoffed at as dumb and stupid and County Attorney Thomas claimed that Sen. Harpers behavior has been "bizarre and erratic" without providing substantiation or corroboration. Sen. Harper was called a conspiracy theorist by our uninformed local liberal PBS station on its Horizon program. The forces that have something to hide have tried to marginalize anyone with an ounce of integrity, anyone who simply wants to out the truth about the elections process in Arizona, by smearing them personally with ad hominem attacks while offering no tangible, verifiable proof that elections in Arizona are honestly determined.
Even some Democrats dont get it. Senator Bill Brotherton (D), largely objecting to possible procedural precedents and not the intent of Sen. Harpers investigation, has filed ethics charges against Sen. Harper charging that he sold his subpoena powers to provide the Phoenix New Times with a scoop. Sen. Harper was able to find funding for the investigation from the independent Phoenix New Times weekly. The Phoenix New Times is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a publication that would favor Republican, conservative, or right-wing agendas. The weekly newspaper has recently merged with The Village Voice for nationwide circulation. Sen. Harper simply put the two parties together to uncover the truth about a Republican primary election in Maricopa County. In no way did Senator Harper benefit financially nor has he gained any political capital within his own party from the arrangement between Dr. Jones and the Phoenix New Times.
We allDemocrats, Republicans, Independents, etc., all patriots who care about our democracywere labeled by Arizonas Secretary of State (remember Jan, Republican, co-chair of the Bush/Cheney campaign in 2004 . . . sound familiar?) as anarchists when we demonstrated to protest her purchase of Diebold DRE (Direct Recording Electronic) touch screen voting machines. When presented with the mountains of evidence, data, and reports that electronic voting machines have massive security problems she smeared us as conspiracy theorists. What Secretary Brewer chooses to ignore are facts. The United States Government Accountability Office report, Federal Efforts to Improve Security and Reliability of Electronic Voting Systems Are Under Way, but Key Activities Need to Be Completed, www.gao.gov/new.items/d05956.pdf states that the security of electronic voting machines have not and cannot currently be assured. Secretary Brewers head in the sand approach to governance ignores the multiple public demonstrations that Diebold, ES&S, Sequoia, or whatever electronic voting machine you can name can be hacked and votes switched, stolen, lost, or destroyed (www.blackboxvoting.org or www.VoteTrustUSA.org or www.VotersUnite.org) and that the Diebold DRE machines dont even meet HAVA standards (Myth Breakers: Facts About Electronic Elections, www.VotersUnite.Org/MB2.pdf). She doesnt consider the fact that Diebold DRE machines have been decertified in California, New Mexico, Connecticut, North Carolina, and Florida where even Gov. Jeb Bush (R) has called for a reevaluation of voting machines. Secretary Brewer foolishly ignores the books and documentaries available in bookstores that describe the voter disenfranchisement and fraud which has permeated our elections nationwide (Fooled Again, How the Right Stole the 2004 Election & Why Theyll Steal the Next One Too (Unless We Stop Them) by Mark Crispin Miller; Steal This Vote by Andrew Gumbel; DVDInvisible BallotsA Temptation for Electronic Vote Fraud, available at www.invisibleballots.com). I wonder what the color of the sky is in her universe?
Its not about right or left, its about right or wrong.
Dr. Jones final report (www.votetrustusa.org/pdfs/Arizona_Folder/ArizonaDist20.pdf) is skillfully dissected and reported on by John Dougherty of the Phoenix New Times in his article, Black Box BreakdownsExpert finds serious trouble, www.phoenixnewtimes.com/Issues/2006-01-12/news/dougherty.html. Dr. Jones report reveals that almost everything Maricopa County elections officials, Purcell and Osborne, have said and done about how votes may have been missed, what pens could or could not activate the opti-scan reader, how under votes may have been accounted for or missed by human error, how or if the machines were calibrated, were wrong and in violation of federal election law! Dr. Jones found that, Election officials appear to lack fundamental knowledge of how their election machinery operates . . . . And, further complicating Sen. Harpers search for the truth, County Attorney Andrew Thomas has said he will oppose in court any private or state-funded effort to conduct a recount . . . of the ballots. However, according to Dr. Jones, Without empirical examination of a random sample of voted ballots, there is no way to decide between the hypothesis that ballots have been altered and the hypothesis that ballots were miscounted by poorly calibrated machines.
Its not the crime that gets you, its the coverup.
The stonewalling, first by Secretary of State Jan Brewer and now by County Attorney Andrew Thomas to withhold the ballots, denying the people their right to the truth about our elections process, raises serious ethical questions. Why wont Secretary Brewer and County Attorney Thomas release the ballots for a transparent analysis and recount? What are Brewer and Thomas trying to hide? Could it be that all the machines are suspect, capable of tampering, hacking, and manipulating elections? And if they are, is it possible that all close elections in Arizona, using Diebold and ES&S machines, are incorrectly decided? Could Matt Salmon (R) and not Janet Napolitano (D) really be Governor owing to Governor Napolitanos narrow 1% margin of victory? Are elections in Arizona being stolen by an elite few, a cabal of some sort, or an entire political party? Is it all some sort of creative design on our democracy? Or, could the Secretary of State, the County Attorney, and the county elections officials have more pedestrian concerns that they might be criminally or civilly liable for their purchase and operation of the electronic voting machines without having done due diligence? Or am I just being a conspiracy theorist?
The Secretary of States and County Attorneys suspicious conduct when contrasted by Senator Harpers sincere pursuit of the truth, has worked to add resolve and passion to the citizens and legislators of Arizona banding together to demand accurate, honest, and verifiable elections. Senator Karen Johnson (R) working with Carolyn Maxon of ACER and other progressive activists is proposing a senate bill to test the accuracy of electronic voting machines by mandating hand counts of the ballots in 12% of the precincts. She is joined by Representative Ted Downing (D) who has introduced two bills that will bring Arizonas voting procedures, machines, and validation procedures in-line with HAVA requirements. The political situation is complicated, but I am working directly with Karen Johnson, Jack Harper, and others on possible bills or, best of all, folding language and ideas into her bill, Rep. Downing reports in the spirit of full cooperation.
Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.
Finally, what binds us together in Arizona is hope, knowledge, and passion. Our hope is that we are all, honest Democrats, Republicans, Independents, on the right path together. Our knowledge rests in the evidence, information, and data we trust about elections across the nation. Our passion is ignited by the fact that without transparent, fair, and honest elections we have lost our democracy already. And our passion burns by our conviction to right whatever wrongs we find and is further fanned by the heat of those who would hide the truth. Those who are in charge of our government now, local, state, and federal, if not honestly elected, hold office illegally and everything they are doing is to the detriment of our American democracy and ideals. Who wins the elections, Democrat or Republican or Independent, is immaterial to knowing that our votes have been honestly counted. Without a level playing field there is no chance to right wrongs, help the less fortunate, provide for our national security, or have a legitimate place in a world of free nations. Hope is what binds us all together, its what brings together these disparate groups in a common cause to preserve our democracy . . . its what sustains us in finding the truth. No matter where our work leads or what the eventual outcome we have faith that we are on the right path, that we will once again believe in our system of government, our people, and, in the end, ourselves.
Michael Shelby is a member of Arizona Citizens for Election Reform and can be reached at email@example.com.