Election Concerns Show Failure Of Mail-In Ballots

Catherine Englebrecht of True the Vote, rightly points out that there are those in our country who hope to cast doubt on the election process in order to sow the seeds of distrust. That distrust, she argues, could lead to apathy, and more frighteningly a suspension of elections by our government.

Englebrecht says that the real threat to our Republic is voter fraud. For her efforts to expose voter fraud, she has been targeted by the IRS and lionized by grassroots organizations across the country.

Last year, residents of the small border community of Nogales, told election integrity proponents that some of them had received up to five ballots for the same election.

During the August 2014 Primary Election cycle, A. J. LaFaro, former Chairman of the Maricopa County Republican Committee, while working with the Maricopa County Elections Staff observing early ballot processing, witnessed a member of Citizens for a Better Arizona (CBA) start “stuffing the ballot box” with hundreds of ballots as he “watched in amazement.”

Brief history of Pima County’s election reform struggle

Arizona primary ballot box stuffing caught on tape

Whether it be election integrity, or voter integrity , there are citizens in communities across Arizona and the country, like Englebrecht and LaFaro, who are working to ensure that our system of elections becomes one in which we all have confidence.

In Pima County, residents have worked to bring transparency to the election process, which has been in doubt since the 2006 Regional Transportation Authority bond measure election. Their concern is twofold; voter integrity and election integrity. They, like anyone who dares challenge the status quo, have been accused of being tinfoil hat wearers.

Failures abound, confidence waivers

The truth be told, too many concerns about the mail-in ballot process, and its failure to live up to its promoters’ promise of increased voter participation suggest that it is causing far more problems than providing more opportunities to participate in the democratic process. The concerns range from allowing ghosts to vote, to peeking at results.

Counting ballots early leaves room for peeking

Traditionally, mail-in ballots in Pima County are processed days before election day according to attorney Bill Risner. In 2014, he wrote about the Sunnyside Unified Scool District Recall and noted that while the ballots were counted in just over one hour,” the County “wanted to count the ballots 5 days before election day.”

Risner alleged at the time, that Pima County insiders could learn the results “days before the election who was winning and by how much. In a close election that would be very valuable information. The losing side could be alerted that they needed to hustle in more votes through one means or another.” he questioned “whether the Pima County Election Division could be trusted to not learn what their computer knew or to not tell anyone if they “accidentally” learned the results.”

“The evidence it complete that they cannot be trusted,” wrote Risner. “We know because several election division employees testified under oath and in open court in Pima County that the election division has routinely been learning and printing the results days or weeks before elections.”

Risner noted that the “practice was so common that Pima County ordered a rubber stamp for the printed results so they could be labeled “unofficial returns.” Early peeking and telling was routine at the Pima County election division.”

Questions raised about Arizona ballot harvesting from nursing homes

Almost one year ago, the ADI reported on one case in particular that showed what can go wrong with the system. In March, 2014, a source informed Maricopa County “elections officials that a married couple from Arizona had moved to another state, but the wife’s name remained on the list to receive a ballots. A whole four years later, the man’s name was marked as deactivated, but the woman’s name remained and someone had voted twice in her name. Despite ailing health, the victim was eager to cooperate with authorities. Nothing was done to see who actually cast the vote, but finally her name was removed from the voter registration list.”

In the case of one Arizona registered voter, her ballots were sent to an address different from where she and her husband were residing. According to the source, the woman has since passed away, yet someone at the registered address has used her ballots to vote in the last 4 elections. Her name has finally been removed from the voter registration list.

Just this week, one Pima County resident asked the Arizona Attorney General regarding the unsealing of a tabulation machine by a member of the Pima County Elections Department after the logic an accuracy had been performed. The breach of protocol, while more likely a result of incompetence rather than corruption, raised concerns about “tampering with the vote counting machine to the attention of local media, officials and other concerned citizens,” according to the letter the the Attorney General. “Once he was made aware of the video evidence, Elections Director Brad Nelson admitted that there had been a breach in protocol. Consequently, another logic and accuracy test, with all witnesses present, had to be performed. When that was completed and all the parties were satisfied that the machine was once more set to zero, another seal was placed on it and the actual tabulation of early ballots was begun,” reads the letter.

“Besides three Tucson City Council elections, and a few other propositions, the current election includes seven bond issues that the County Manager, Chuck Huckleberry, and 4 of the 5 County Supervisors have all come out in favor of and have actively campaigned for passage of these bond issues,” continued the letter. “The elections are being run and handled by the County under the direct accountability of Mr. Huckleberry, which adds to the skepticism many of us have about the actions taken by this employee of the County and the possibility and/or probability of tampering with election results.”

Skepticism is not worth the promise

“Drawing on data from a large sample of California counties in two general elections, we find that voting by mail does not deliver on the promise of greater participation in general elections. In fact, voters who are assigned to vote by mail turn out at lower rates than those who are sent to a polling place. Analysis of a sample of local special elections, by contrast, indicates that voting by mail can increase turnout in these otherwise low-participation contests,” reads the 2007 article, Does Voting by Mail Increase Participation? Using Matching to Analyze a Natural Experiment, by Thad Kousser and Megan Mullin.

Although advocates claimed later that vote by mail increases participation, there is little evidence that the 2007 findings do not hold true. According to a pro-vote by mail article in the Huffington Post, “In the case of the four states with the highest voter turnout: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Oregon, and Washington, “same-day registration, a century of tradition in civic engagement, along with a hotly contested U.S. Senate race in Wisconsin, explain high turnout in the top two states. As for Oregon and Washington, they are the only 100 percent vote-by-mail states.”

Despite an increase in vote by mail participants, the 2014 Gubernatorial Election was historically at 36.42% down from 55.65% in 2010. Granted the choices offered to Arizona voters, Doug Ducey and Fred DuVal, were less than compelling, but making it easier to cast a ballot didn’t seem to make a dent in voters’ apathy.

On Friday, residents watching the Pima County Elections Department’s live stream, could see officials donning a tin foil hat presumably part of a Halloween costume, and not an attempt to mock concerned residents. The stunt did little to shore up confidence in the Department or the integrity of Pima County staff or elections officials.

Confidence in the system is vital. Whether confidence is whittled away by arrogant “public servants,” or ballot stuffers, or ballot tabulating machines that can be compromised, it matters little. What matters is that confidence be restored. One elections integrity advocate quotes President Reagan frequently, we must “trust by verify.” We would add that we also eliminate what we can that weakens our confidence and our system. Mail-in ballots do just that. We must elect or appoint elections officials we trust.

Until we make a real commitment to both election and voter integrity, turn out will remain low and the failing status quo in places like Pima County, which is home to the fifth poorest metropolitan area in the country, will remain intact.

Related articles:

Arizona primary ballot box stuffing caught on tape


Maricopa ballot harvesting video spurs Reagan, Goddard ad

21 Comments

  1. Allow the county to count ballots for it’s own bond election is like leaving the fox in charge of the hen house.

  2. The county doesnt need to count these ballots in advance now that they have this new equipment. It could all be done on election day & ease our concerns. Their track record of cheating is well known & we’ll be paying higher taxes because of it. Why hasn’t Secretary if state Sent someone down to oversee? She ran know clean elections & apparently hasn’t done a thing down here.

  3. My only question is why does Brad Nelson still have a job. Oh, wait, he answers to the Chuckster, that’s why. How convenient is that for the Chuckster? Your man is in charge of counting the votes….

  4. lead to apathy… I think it’s long arrived when they sent the ballots by mail – it’s a joke – to think these votes won’t be manipulated just NUTS! Hey if the super bowl football is flat – so are the votes anywhere.

  5. ate the new vote counting machines made by “Voteswagon” with programmable winner option loaded in.. just select you voter outcomes and waaaallaaaa we have a winner!

  6. What amazes me is the fact that they even go to the trouble to manipulate the results of the elections. The voters in Tucson are for all practical purposes lemmings who don’t change for any reason and the huckster’s machine is well financed by those who benefit from the Bonds.

    Unfortunately the democratic base has bought into the just keep taxing it will never run out.

    What is running out are the small businesses that provide JOBS, Thank you City Council.

  7. Pima County established the Election Integrity Commission as a result of the RTA Bond election and every once in a while actually listens to us. Because of the Open Meeting Law we were unable to formally request that the Sunnyside School District recall election ballots be counted only on election day but the individual members spoke with the individual Supervisors and we got it done. The Board listened to us when we said that an audit (not required by law, but permitted according to the AG ruling)be held on this upcoming election and it will be done in spite of Huckleberry. Our next Our next goal is to get the ballot images of the early ballots audited in the same way, and to the same standard, as precinct-cast ballots. Bill Beard and I have been against early ballots, except for cases where the voter will not be present on election day, for as long as I remember. But we take one fight at a time and try to build momentum for making our elections be conducted with integrity.

    By the way, our meeting are open to the public, come and see what we do and if you have any issues with the way elections are conducted in Pima County bring those issues to us and as far as the Open Meeting Law allows, we will bring them to the Board for their action.

    Christopher Cole
    First Vice-Chair Pima County Libertarian Party
    Libertarian Party Representative, Pima County Election Integrity COmmission

  8. There is no longer honor in this or any government system regarding elections and very few that won’t do dishonorable acts to get elected. You cannot tell me that a small group of our young genius tech kids could not brainstorm and come up with a fool proof way to vote that even these crooks couldn’t hack or cheat on. My son is 25 and is head of IT for a great company. He tells me that when he learns new stuff (for my lack of a better description) or goes for a new certification, many times he is taught by younger kids! It would probably be a simple task for them. We have to think out of the box to beat these cheats (honestly) who have no conscience and only care about themselves and their cronies.

  9. No body mentioned it so I will. If you believe that many of the CRIMINAL, ILLEGAL, ALIEN, TERRORIST, COMBATANT, INVADER, PARASITES are not also voting ILLEGALLY, you are living out their with Kirk, Spock, Scotty and the rest of their crew. This is why the DEMONcrats will NOT protect us from them and allow them to remain and STEAL from our Social Services. We need Trump to build a wall and deport them all.

  10. Don’t forget, even the walk in voting with paper punch ballots before the mail in ballots were ever thought of were also manipulated to chuckys will.
    IMO, ending the mail in ballots wouldn’t even make a dent in stopping the fraud or disappearance of stacks of paper ballots.

    Also, why on earth are these machines within a mile of any pima county building and are they not able to find a room that could have cameras installed that has no other Pima county activity going on.

    Maybe even a 3 or 4 way lock that needs all overseers keys present at the same time to even get into the room, which would eliminate these idiot jerkoffs mulling around the equipment and spinning in chairs.

  11. keeping in mind that if government self elects itself – the consequence of laws being consequence itself ; the term for that would be repression. Which seems to be coming from all directions one small change at at time.

  12. Here we go again- and still. VOTE AT A POLLING PLACE (IN ENGLISH) ON ELECTION DAY WITH VERIFICATION OF ELIGIBLE VOTER ID. Mail-in votes only for those in Military service; disabled/ill—few others. “Fair” election groups, committees, are as fair as the “open” meeting law. Watch out for any political parties- yeah, even the Libertarians.

  13. What a well-written and comprehensive article! It is the responsibility of every citizen to protect the integrity of our elections. Arizona Revised Statute ARS 16-547 subsection C lays out how elections are conducted, how ballots must be handled and who can do what in the election process. All votes must be counted as long as the ballots are valid and received by 7 pm on Election Day. State law mandates that counting of ballots cannot begin until the close of polls on Election Day!

  14. I don’t care if Chuckie calls it tabulating instead of counting. That’s how he has stolen and spent our money for years….semantics. Votes are not to be counted until the polls close. It’s law. Not even tabulated Chuckie. ALL votes are counted….even those provisionals. It’s the law, Chuckie. How about the 7,000 that weren’t counted in the McSally WIN? How did Chuckie ever let Ally Miller win? That election has to be one of Chuckies worst nightmares. Thought he could get her to roll over like Ray. Hang in there Ally. Help will be arriving shortly.

  15. I work long hours and appreciate being able to fill out the ballot on my own time at the breakfast table with all the propaganda (oops…information) at my fingertips. I’ve always wondered if and when my mail-in ballot was actually counted.

    • Silver, you probably already know you can go to the recorders web page to verify they recieved you mail in ballot and when it was counted.

      My problem is, just like you, where’s the proof it got imputed and counts, being the recorder is part of chuckys thieftom

  16. At the end of the night each voting place tabulates their dropped off mail in ballots. They have their names on the signature. Many of these names can be checked against the voting place’s list of voters in their own precinct (that they keep for people to sign in) to see if they are Republican or Democrat. Simple; if all the people at that voting place are of like mind they can throw out the people they don’t want.
    But Wayne_B, what about the fact that at least one must be of a different party? Well, anyone can register under a different party.

    Yes, you can check to see if your absentee ballot made it in, at this link:

    https://www.recorder.pima.gov/VoterStats/ballot_info

  17. Bitch Birch Bitch….If you right wing nuts don’t like the
    voting system here move back
    to Florida with the Chad voting.

  18. So now we know how the Republicans have controlled the AZ legislatures for over 40 years. Now it makes sense

  19. Absentee voting was a mistake. I got a phone call / voicemail. My vote has been thrown out because my signature could not be verified. I’ve been informed I need to physically report to the county building to sign another envelope. If going to the county building was convenient for me I wouldn’t be voting by mail. Consider me disenfranchised. 🙁

  20. That happened to me four years ago. And I was out of town when they left the message. Got home after the election and called them. They said my signature looked different so they didn’t count it.

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