Arizona Attorney General
Terry Goddard, taking ‘seriously’ election-rigging allegations
By Phil Riske, firstname.lastname@example.org
Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard “takes very seriously” allegations the 2006 Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) election in Pima County that approved a half-cent sales tax increase for transportation was rigged, his spokeswoman Anne Hilby told the Yellow Sheet Report on July 23.
Representing Americans United for Democracy, Integrity and Transparency in Elections, Arizona (AUDIT-AZ ), Tucson attorney Bill Risner said a whistleblower had signed an affidavit obtained by the Yellow Sheet stating a computer operator with the Pima County Elections Department told the whistleblower that he had “fixed” the election results on instructions from Brad Nelson, his boss. The attorney requested that Goddard step in and prevent the scheduled destruction of the ballots.
The affidavit, which has Zbigniew Osmolski swearing he was told about the alleged rigging at a bar by Bryan Crane, was sent to Goddard July 9.
“We are looking into it,” Hilby said. “We take (election issues) very seriously.”
In a cover letter to Goddard, Risner said, “I have become convinced that the Pima County Elections Department had criminally manipulated the RTA voting process. We have spoken, and you are aware of my concerns about your office’s investigation that was directed by the suspects themselves.”
After a 2007 AG investigation, Goddard said Pima County’s election system needs significant changes to ensure its security in balloting, but the shortcomings weren’t enough to compel him to recommend throwing out the RTA election.
Goddard’s office investigated claims by the Pima County Democratic Party of election tampering. Voters approved the 20-year regional transportation plan and a half-cent sales tax to fund it by an overwhelming margin in May 2006.
The Democrats accused the county elections office of improprieties in ballot security that suggested the tally may have been “flipped” to show the measures passing when they failed.
“We did not find any evidence that the computer technician at the center of this case manipulated this election,” Goddard said. The investigation cleared Crane of wrongdoing in printing out early-ballot returns days before the May 16, 2006, election. But
Goddard said a consultant found elections systems in 12 other Arizona counties that use equipment and software open to tampering.
“We’re alerting all counties to be aware of this,” he said.
The Pima County Democrats last year sued the county seeking the election databases, contending the electronic vote records are public records that should be available to political party elections observers to scrutinize for signs of tampering or security breaches. A Pima County Superior Court judge ruled in favor of the party.