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Hand recount brings relief for voters in ’06 RTA plan

Citizen Staff Writer
Our Opinion

Pima County voters can breathe a bit easier now that a hand recount has validated the outcome of the 2006 election on the Regional Transportation Plan.

Attorney General Terry Goddard ordered the recount, citing reasonable suspicion tampering may have occurred.

The recount, done by the Maricopa County Elections Division, turned up minuscule errors but nothing to change the election outcome that approved a 20-year, $2.1 billion transportation plan and the half-cent sales tax to pay for it.

The recount “confirmed beyond suspicion” that there was no electronic “flip” of the votes, Goddard said.

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

Not so fast. Pima County elections gained credibility thanks largely to the healthy skepticism and tireless efforts of local election activists and the Pima County Democratic Party.

They brought to light serious security vulnerabilites in the county’s Diebold-GEMS electronic vote system – and in Elections Division procedures – that otherwise might have gone undetected.

Indeed, the county had refused to turn over databases for scrutiny until Superior Court Judge Michael Miller ordered it to do so in December 2007 – the first time a court ordered a government to tender electronic vote records.

The order didn’t include the RTA databases, but the county Board of Supervisors voluntarily released those to Democrats early last year.

So we can thank local activists for seeing to it that the county’s election system weaknesses were identified and rectified, and that the RTA election outcome was scrutinized and its results upheld.

These skeptical activists should enjoy a well-deserved rest. They’ve earned it.

If, however, accusations continue to be leveled without good cause, these activists risk losing their credibility, like the little boy who cried “wolf.”

All voters should be grateful to the Tucsonans who took the time and trouble to ensure the validity of the RTA election and to strengthen our election system.

The sanctity of our votes is paramount, and the citizens who recognize that fact and help to ensure election accuracy are making a critical contribution to our democratic society.

We applaud them for their efforts, and we thank the AG’s Office for following through on these concerns.

Without citizen activists and healthy skepticism, our election system’s credibility could still be in doubt.

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