Did John McCain Lose Arizona?

votorsaurus.gifWhile Maricopa County (Phoenix) Judge Edward O. Burke agreed with the state’s Libertarian Party that county elections director, Karen Osborne, did not follow election law, ensure ballot integrity and an unbroken custody chain, he ruled against them saying, “in a county the size of Maricopa, perfect compliance with the statutory electoral scheme, while desirable, is not possible due to time, space, the practicalities of the electoral process and the number of persons involved” in denying their injunction for a hand recount last Friday.

Pardon me, but, WTF?

We still do not have a final Presidential result in the state of Missouri, 14 days after the election. We still do not have all ballots counted in Alaska in their razor close Senate race. We still do not have a result in the Minnesota Senate race and will have a mandatory recount. We still do not have a result in Georgia where a run-off election will be held on December 2nd, but John McCain’s state and home county (the largest in Arizona) need not follow election laws because it may be inconvenient for them to so do?!?

What kind of a banana republic state does the former Republican Presidential candidate represent? I reported extensively in the run-up to this election about problems in Tucson’s Pima County (second largest county see citations at article’s end) where now even the County Manager is distancing himself from the justifiably embattled Elections Director there.

At first glance John McCain appears to have comfortably won his home state by about 9 percentage points. Barack Obama won Tucson (Pima) and John McCain won Phoenix (Maricopa). Those two counties though account for almost 70% of the total vote. So, if one wanted to hack a series of memory cards or alter the vote’s results, these two counties would have the greatest impact and make the most sense.

I’m puzzled. Aside from losing a wild-card pool pick state (I had Arizona going to Obama against the odds), how can so many states surrounding Arizona … New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada and California turn blue, yet this one stay so conspicuously red? Why did team Obama, who had a solid run, spend money and time in Arizona? Did McCain actually lose Maricopa County, because if he did, he would have lost his home state. When the stakes are so high, it makes one think.

John Brakey is as passionate as they come. This citizen warrior is part of AUDIT AZ and they work tirelessly for election transparency and integrity. Since 1996 they have been battling election authorities in Pima County. Their work has uncovered major systemic problems with Diebold and ES&S machines. Indeed as covered earlier, the state’s Attorney General still refuses to seize questionable ballots from a 2004 election and order a recount that could resolve this issue once and for all.

Said Brakey about Maricopa County, “the point of all this is to force this out-of-control election department to resolve chain-of-custody issues, to force the county to follow the rules of law.”

At trial evidence was introduced but not addressed in the court’s decision. This included testimony given orally and by affidavit about:

  • unsigned poll register tapes,
  • the lack of security handling and transporting memory packs and
  • the flimsy and easily manipulated ballot containers and seals.

Jim March, an elections security expert with BlackBoxVoting.org testified in an affidavit introduced at trial, “the elections department used flimsy plastic containers purchased at Fry’s Electronics store that can be easily opened by removing the hinges. This keeps the election department seals intact.”

Without a proper chain-of-custody, properly sealed bags, and memory card on walkabout throughout the county, if someone wanted to ensure a victory there are many ways in which to do that.

This film shows election results arriving without proper seals and custody and elections director Osborne unconcerned then belligerent. All it takes is one infected card to alter the entire tabulation computer’s result.

As was shown time and again, our nation’s voting systems are badly broken. That people have to give up a day or half day’s wages to vote is, as MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow suggested, a new form of the Jim Crow era poll tax.That they stood on line for so long and did so in record numbers is a reason for us all to feel proud.That belligerent “public servants” can treat an independent election observer and the process with such disdain should be a dismissible offence. There is no room for that kind of behavior.

denis-campbell-2.gifEarlier this election season we highlighted a public-private cooperative effort in Humboldt County, California, that should be the model for election departments across the USA. Uniform national election laws and procedures for recounts should be a priority before the mid-term elections.

Defensiveness, confrontation and belligerence have no place in such a sacred place as the local election department. It is the one right we must all fight for responsibly and the sooner both sides come out of confrontation and into cooperation the better it will be for us all.

Did John McCain lose his own county and state? We will never know.

And we should.

Denis Campbell

Denis Campbell is a US journalist based in the United Kingdom. He contributes to newspapers and magazines, is a BBC Radio election commentator and publishes the daily e-magazine The Vadimus Post from the Latin Quo Vadimus – where are we headed and do we know why?

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Published by the LA Progressive on November 18, 2008
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About Denis Campbell

Denis Campbell is a US journalist and entrepreneur based in the United Kingdom . He is Editor-in-Chief of UKProgressive.co.uk, a frequent BBC political and business contributor, writes for publications around the globe and is a partner in Target Point Ltd a business innovation consultancy bringing examples of the best practices from the recent campaign to businesses and campaigns.