see published article at: http://www.kgun9.com/news/local/130295613.html
TUCSON, Ariz.–After yesterday’s approval in the Board of Supervisor’s meeting, Pima County will become the first Arizona county to express interest in becoming a part of a ballot scanning pilot study.
Addressed to Ken Bennett, Arizona’s secretary of state, members of the Pima County Election Integrity Commission drafted a letter expressing preliminary interest in partaking in the pilot test, according to Brad Nelson, elections director for Pima County.
With the recent passing of House Bill 2304 by Arizona Legislature, the state can experiment with scanning to determine election integrity, according to Chuck Huckelberry, Pima County administrator. “Previously, to scan or copy a ballot was illegal in Arizona,” Huckelberry added.
The pilot study involves taking “an image of the ballots that have already been counted and run them through a piece of software that counts the election again for auditing purposes not for official results,” Nelson said.
According to Matt Roberts, director of communications for the secretary of state, the pilot study will be funded through the Help America Vote Act, where the federal government grants Arizona money to carry out elections.
Nelson said that Pima County would not spend a penny on the pilot study as stated in a provision in the letter to the secretary of state.
With the ballot fraud allegations of the May 2006 Regional Transportation Authority election, member of the Pima County Election Integrity Commission, Tom Ryan, says the incident “increased our desire to improve the auditing system.”
Nelson said, “In some of the aftermath of some of the allegations about the RTA election…one of the thoughts during that process was being able to make images and scans like a photograph and have those available to individuals that want to audit the election themselves…this is a step in that direction.”
Although Nelson says the preliminary interest letter “will get the ball rolling,” he remains unsure when the pilot study will take place. “I am not certain whether time will allow it to take place in 2012. We certainly don’t want to rush it and not have it do what we want it to do.”
After the secretary of state receives the board’s letter, Roberts said they would begin to move forward and find vendors interested in participating in the program.
Nelson says sending a letter of interest does not obligate Pima County’s participation. However he supports participation in the study saying, “Part of the charter of the EIC is to provide as much transparency in the election process as possible.”
Even though the majority of the EIC remain in favor of participating in the study, some members oppose. Member of EIC Benny White thinks having the ballots on the internet could potentially violate a person’s privacy and the secrecy of the voting process.