Maricopa County Ballot Tabulation Center
This is going to be a 'low tech' report, as I was more concerned in seeing and understanding the process and meeting the people involved than accumulating and listing the technical aspects of the equipment involved. I'm sure that any enterprising person can obtain those statistics with just a little research.
I was just a few minutes late getting into the tabulation room due to the standard obstacles one gets when dealing with any 'government' entity, and it began upon my arrival to find that, once again, there are more than one type of 'person' in the world, and that I am not a member of the accomodated variety.
NO PUBLIC PARKING.
Luckily, I was on my motorcycle, and I was able to squeeze it in between two cars in the very limited street parking at the 510 S. 3rd Avenue facility, which happens to share the building with the Maricopa County Sheriffs. Seeing that, I knew that I had to stash my simple electrician's pocketknife on my bike because it would be considered a 'weapon' and wouldn't be allowed in the building. That saved me from having to go back and secure it - the exact reason why I was not armed as I have ALWAYS been for the last several decades - and there's nowhere on a motorcycle I can put a firearm and expect it to still be there when I come back out.
My next stumbling block was seeing the 'vote here' sign in the parking lot. I had asked my County Chariman Jim Ianuzzo the previous day when I picked up my REQUIRED hand-signed original printed-on-golden-paper authorization if I needed to dress without any party affiliation or endorsement on, and he told me that it was just a test and it wasn't on election day, so I was ok to wear something that had 'Libertarian Party' on it, which I did. Upon entering the facility, I was introduced to a delightful lady named Karen Osborne who is the Director of Elections. I signed in and let them take a copy of my party authorization, and was told to put everything metal I had into a plastic bag as I would be 'wanded' (which I never was) upon entry to the tabulation room. At that point I asked if they would prefer that I turned my shirt inside-out which pleased Karen that I was so accomodating to their 'security' and 'anti-electioneering' measures, and she escorted me to the mens rest room after obtaining a limited access badge for me. I was wearing my hat that had "Be Independent! Vote LIBERTARIAN" that I got from Presidential Candidate Daniel Imperato when I attended the Libertarian National Convention as a delegate this past May, so I left that with my personal belongings in the bag.
From there, Karen took me into the tabulation room through a different entrance other than the one I would have gone through from the main desk, and that's why I think the Sheriff's Officers failed to 'wand' me. As insignificant as this minor breach was, I would be remiss in my oberservational duties were I to not note it.
Once inside the tabulation room, I was introduced to a flurry of people whose names I knew I wouldn't be able to remember, but were all so very kind and courteous, and every one of them actually seemed pleased that I was there. One person that was very helpful in answering my questions was Joe Kanefield, Elections Director for the State of Arizona. He helped greatly in my understanding of the tabulation process as a whole.
I was then introduced to my fellow party observer, Jim March. My bewilderment in not knowing this person was understandable once I found out he was from Tucson. As well as being a Libertarian, he is a Board Member of BlackBoxVoting.org, and was quite well versed in all aspects of election procedures and equipment. I was glad he was there, even though he was a little more assertive than I felt necessary at times. I was advised by my Chairman that I was there as an observer only; that I was not to engage the workers with questions or suggestions while the test was in process, but to write my observations and questions down, and they would be addressed afterwards. Mr. March voiced not only his concerns, but also made suggestions (some which were implemented, some were not) and wasn't happy about several issues I didn't fully understand because of the mass of information I was getting at the time.
At this point, I offer the reader this website that allows you to actually see inside the tabulation center from several different angles as a point of reference.
Basically, it's a long room with eight ballot readers, and a final talley room at one end seperated from the room with the readers in it by glass. We observers were not allowed into this room (?) but could see (somewhat) the actions of the person that did the final talley of the eight readers, along with five or six ballot readers taken 'at random' from various polling places that were also a part of the test.
By the time I had been introduced around, gotten an overview of the procedure, and was 'on my own' to observe, it couldn't have been later than 2:45 to 3:00 p.m. (the test supposedly began at 2), yet I was not to realize until after the FAILURE of the first test that I had NOT seen ANY ballots cycled through any of the readers yet! This amazed me once it dawned on me when I saw a ballot reader being used FOR THE FIRST TIME during the retest! Now these machines make some noise when being operated, and not hearing that sound until the retest made it obvious that the first test HAD to have began long before the designated 2:00 p.m. start time in order for all those ballots to be read by the time I arrived. Either that, or they are extremely fast and efficient - which could actually be the case, but I do not know.
The failure of the first test (which was a BIG surprise to those in attendance) was determined to have been due to one of the eight ballot readers failing to properly read some control ballots - in one precinct it shorted Henry Mitchell by two votes (only counted 22 of 24 votes), Ed Ableser by one vote (only counted 7 of 8 votes), and Mark Thompson by one vote (only counted 3 of 4 votes). Due to the 'pattern' the ballots were filled out in as a control measure, it was determined that Ballot Reader #5 was the one that failed to properly read all the ballots run through it. At that point, a number was drawn at random from a box (#1) and the ballots from #5 were run through that reader, and then all data was re-retrieved from the other readers, and taken into the final Talley room, and added to the cart data from the random poll readers.
The second test run was successful - all numbers matched. My observations, combined with the number of people in attendance, gave me the overall impression that vote fraud in the tabulation center itself was possible, but not very likely.
I signed the Certificate of Accuracy, kindly thanked everyone for their assistance, told them I would see them again on election day, and went to reclaim my personal items at the main desk.
Once outside, I spoke with John Brakey, co-founder of AUDIT-AZ, who had been observing from the lobby just outside the tabulation center. Between Mr. March and Mr. Brakey, it seems the main concern with the possibility of fraud is the lack of a 'Chain-of-Custody' of the actual cartridges that come out of the ballot readers in the Precinct polling places themselves, combined with the fact that NONE of the data from them are encripted! Come to find out, the ballot readers in the tabulation center are only used for the mail-in ballots and the provisional ballots.
At the end of the night November 4th, an undetermined poll worker (I was told by law it was supposed to be two people) from each polling place will take the cartridge containing that locations' totals to one of 22 'collection centers' to be downloaded and transmitted via 'dedicated' telephone lines to that final 'talley room' at the tabulation center that I wasn't allowed into. If an unscrupulous poll worker that was the one to transport the cartridge from their polling place to a collection center were to load that cartridge with software to infect the tabulation process...
You get the picture.