Report Suggests Lawmakers Must Understand A.I. Programmed Into Election Systems

pima county vote tabulator

A new report about the Maricopa County’s handling of the 2020 General Election calls on state lawmakers to better understand the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in voting systems so that they -and not voting system manufacturers- can define how AI is used in the process.

“The AI systems are the ones that are determining the process,” Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai said Thursday in announcing his latest report. “And I don’t believe most legislators even know what the rules are. And this is a problem that we have when we have politicians who don’t understand technology.”

According to Ayyadurai, a voter’s ballot in Maricopa County is placed in a scanner which converts the ballot into an image. Preprogrammed AI then “reads” the image to determine what votes were cast, which is then used for tabulation.

“What I want people to understand in a very profound way is that machines have an artificial intelligence of digital image processing, that literally analyzes this image, and decides what the votes are,” Ayyadurai said, adding that if the AI programming has any doubts, the image (not the actual paper ballot) gets adjudicated or reviewed by humans.

“And what we’ve discovered here is the fact that we need immediate legislation for the AI on these systems, the standards that they use to be fully disclosed and legislators telling those AI systems how they should be functioning,” Ayyadurai said.

One concern addressed by Ayyadurai as a “real election systems integrity issue” involved the adjudication process relied on when the AI used by Maricopa County’s Dominion Voting System could not determine how to record a specific contest.

Ayyadurai’s report contends there were instances where a ballot was purportedly flagged for human-review adjudication but not all of the records associated with that were found. And there was a set of ballots never flagged by the AI for adjudication which somehow ended up getting adjudicated anyway.

Ayyadurai also used Thursday’s release of his latest report to take aim at Cyber Ninjas Inc, the company contracted by Senate President Karen Fann to conduct the Maricopa County election audit.

Ayyadurai claims he was hired by Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan to conduct a review of the digital images of the ballots, as it is the digital images -not the actual ballots – which were tabulated. Cyber Ninjas never followed through with the review, instead concentrating on a hand-count of 2,089,563 paper ballots cast by voters.

A few weeks ago, Ayyadurai finally obtained the ballot image files from others involved in the audit. It then took four weeks for a two-person team to complete a review which revealed that only about 15,000 ballot images needed to be compared to the actual ballots.

Instead, Logan had Cyber Ninjas do the hand count of the nearly 2.1 million paper ballots. It was a months-long, expensive activity which caused much controversy.

Had the image analysis and other related records been audited first, “millions of taxpayer dollars and time could have been saved,” Ayyadurai said. “And such effort could have been directed to real issues chain of custody, signature verification, advanced election systems integrity.”

Ayyadurai also used Thursday’s report release to shine a light on what he called “grifters” and those people who know there is a real problem with an election system, but don’t want to address the problem.

“They’ve been making money off of it. And people have been funding these people,” he said. Initially Ayyadurai thought it was “just incompetence” but has come to believe “it’s more nefarious, and those Grifters have been added to hide the real issues.”

According to Ayyadurai, he hopes his latest report “serves as a way for policymakers to understand the importance of what’s going on in the field of artificial intelligence, which is used in election voting systems.” He also hopes voters and the public will become informed of what happens once a ballot is submitted.

Ayyadurai said a copy of his report on the ballot images has been forwarded to Fann as well as Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich.

Last year Fann hired Ayyadurai to complete a review of Maricopa County’s signature verification process of the envelopes used to mail in early-voting ballots. He completed that report last year, but Ayyadurai says he is working on a new report dealing with chain of custody and signature verification.