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Atty. general to get transit vote ballots

Citizen Staff Writer



The ballots and related polling records from the May 2006 Regional Transportation Authority election were ordered Monday turned over to Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard for a criminal investigation into whether the results were manipulated.

Goddard obtained the order taking possession of the ballots from Pima County Treasurer Beth Ford in Maricopa County Superior Court.

Ford has retained possession of the transportation issue ballots and related materials since the election and asked in Pima County Superior Court for a ruling on whether they should be destroyed, as stipulated by statute, or retained for use in a criminal investigation.

The investigation includes whether the electronically voted and tabulated election was rigged to allow passage of a 20-year Regional Transportation Plan and half-cent sales tax to help fund projects in it.

“The office is going to take public steps to ensure the integrity of the ballots” when transferred, Goddard press secretary Anne Titus Hilby said Monday afternoon.

Earlier Monday, Pima County Superior Court Judge Charles V. Harrington ruled on a different issue, saying that court no longer had jurisdiction in the case, after an attorney for one of the plaintiffs seeking the ballot recount filed an appeal of an earlier decision with a higher court.

“I think the jurisdiction is now with the Court of Appeals,” Harrington said at a hearing involving attorneys from the Pima County Democratic Party, county Libertarian Party, county Regional Transportation Authority and Ford.

County Democratic Party attorney Bill Risner has pressed Goddard’s office for the criminal investigation into the integrity of the May 16, 2006, election.

Risner and allied activists questioning the integrity of electronic election results maintain the results could have been manipulated in several ways, all involving workers for the county Elections Division.

Elections officials denied the allegations.

The county Democratic Party won a ruling in an earlier, related case forcing the county to turn over the electronic databases for that election, and eventually obtained the databases for all such elections back to the mid-1990s.

Risner said in a Feb. 18 letter to Goddard that an examination of the Regional Transportation Authority election database showed “errors” warranting further investigation.

The Democrats and other plaintiffs want the actual ballots and polling tapes from the election to compare voting at the polls with vote tabulations after the polls closed.

Memory cards on each voting machine record the votes cast on each machine.

Democrats want the polling tapes, sealed along with the RTA election ballots, to be examined to see if memory cards were tampered with in the election to produce false tabulations.

County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry also called for an attorney general investigation into the election, as did officials of the Regional Transportation Authority and the county Republican Party.

Risner questioned why it was necessary for Goddard’s office to take physical control of the ballots and related materials to transfer to Maricopa County.

“We’re anxious that records that are at a secure location now” are to be moved, Risner said.

The Attorney General’s Office said Monday there was no further comment about the investigation.

Details will be released later, Hilby said.

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