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Recount affirms RTA vote

Citizen Staff Writer
RTA: Regional Transportation Authority



Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard said Tuesday that a hand recount of votes in the 2006 Regional Transportation Authority election showed no evidence of criminal tampering with the results.

Goddard said the recounted ballots matched almost exactly the results tabulated by Pima County Elections Division staffers after the election.

“The bottom line of what we’ve shown here is that there was no flip,” Goddard said.

Goddard earlier this year ordered a hand count of ballots from the RTA election, in which county voters approved two ballot items – creation of a Regional Transportation Authority and a half-cent sales tax to help fund projects to be overseen by the agency.

Voters approved a 20-year, $2.1 billion regional transportation plan and the sales tax increase by wide margins, the upheld election results show.

Four major transportation initiatives to be funded by bonds or sales taxes had been strongly rejected by voters over the previous 15 years.

Goddard was trying to determine if the vote was rigged by someone through tampering with electronic vote devices or with ballot tabulating procedures following the election.

“It appeared there was reasonable suspicion that a crime had been committed” Goddard said of claims by critics of computerized vote systems that tampering did indeed take place.

Those included illegal printing of early ballot returns five days before the election, and the presence of a crop card, which is a device that can be used to alter results, in the elections division offices.

Although Goddard said the criminal investigation is closed, he would not comment on whether a grand jury has looked or is looking into the conduct of the election.

Goddard ordered the hand recount, done by the Maricopa County Elections Division earlier this month.

His office had probed the Pima County Elections Division and its use of a Diebold-GEMS electronic vote system in 2007. The systems have been widely criticized for being vulnerable to manipulation in several ways.

That probe found serious security flaws in the system and elections division, but no criminal actions.

“I think it proves we’ve been vindicated,” County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry, said Tuesday.

The case started in 2007 when the Pima County Democratic Party sought access to the county’s electronic vote databases from previous elections.

Party officials said they wanted to be able to check the reliability of electronic vote systems after widespread complaints from across the country that such systems could be hacked and the results manipulated. Pima County Superior Court Judge Michael Miller ruled in December 2007 the county must surrender some past election databases, the first such court order to a government to turn over electronic vote records.

The order omitted the RTA databases, which were released to the Democrats early last year by the Pima County Board of Supervisors. More than 120,000 ballots were recounted by Maricopa County officials.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Goddard: Hand recount affirms 2006 transportation election results


May 2006 RTA election results tabulated by the Pima County Elections Division compared with the Maricopa County Elections Division hand recount

Question 1

“Do you approve of the regional transportation plan for Pima County?”

Pima County election canvass:

Yes: 71,948 – about 60.05 percent

No: 47,870 – about 39.95 percent

Maricopa County Elections Division hand recount:

Yes: 71,626 – about 60.06 percent

No: 47,636 – about 39.94 percent

Difference: 556 votes

Question 2:

“Do you favor the levy of a transaction privilege tax for regional transportation purposes in Pima County?”

Pima County election canvass:

Yes: 68,773 – about 57.64 percent

No: 50,551 – about 42.36 percent

Maricopa County Elections Division hand recount:

Yes: 68,420 – about 57.63 percent

No: 50,306 – about 42.37 percent

Difference: 598 votes

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