Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Brewer blasts Pima County vote count plans

Secretary of state wants tally sent in by modem



Secretary of State Jan Brewer is again criticizing Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry and elections division officials over the way the county tabulates votes.

Brewer is upset that the county has not changed a policy to physically transfer voting devices to a central tabulation facility instead of transmitting precinct results over telephone lines.

Brewer, a Republican, said county officials’ decision to ignore her recent call for renewal of transmitting votes by modem would “substantially delay” the reporting of election results and add “a major security vulnerability into the election process.”

Brewer cited the Sept. 2 primary elections as an example in which the county’s voting-device transfer policy caused results of some elections to be delayed.

“The same will reoccur following the election next week unless Pima County reverses its course,” Brewer wrote to Huckelberry on Tuesday.

Huckelberry said Tuesday afternoon that elections results on Nov. 4 likely will come in more slowly than before the county eliminated the use of modems from precincts to transmit results.

“We’ve said it will be delayed,” Huckelberry said.

The county discontinued transmitting vote results from polling places over telephone lines this year because of concerns that the transmissions might be intercepted, and bogus vote totals forwarded to the county’s vote tabulation center.

Huckelberry disputed Brewer’s contention that the physical transfer of ballot scanners to the central tabulation center posed a greater security risk than an intercepted modem transmission scenario.

“If she could guarantee that modem transmissions are completely and undeniably secure, we could convince the party officials of that,” Huckelberry said.

The issue of modem transmissions and other concerns about election security arose last year when the Pima County Democratic Party successfully sued the county to obtain electronic vote databases from past elections to search for security vulnerability.

The county and the Pima County Democratic Party last year asked Attorney General Terry Goddard to investigate whether election fraud had occurred in the past.

Goddard said there is no evidence of fraud, but added in a report by a computer consulting firm that the county’s vote recording and tabulation processes raised security concerns.

Huckelberry shortly afterward released a report recommending that transmission of precinct vote totals over telephone lines be discontinued.

Party officials did not ask for that change, but agreed it would plug one potential avenue for corruption of vote results.

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