Monday, May 20, 2024

Election Incompetence is not Illegal

Like the misbehaving child who craves attention, Arizona seems willing to play the fool in order to stay in the national spotlight. How else could you explain the recent 2022 election when the debacle of 2020 remains fresh in the minds of voters across the nation?

There is no question that when it comes to elections, Arizona is its own worst enemy.

When suspicions are coupled with incompetence, election officials set themselves up for mistrust and scrutiny from the losing side. The voting issues in Maricopa County that affected 30% of the tabulators were inexcusable, especially in light of the cause. Apparently, a certain brand of ballot printer created “fuzzy timing marks” that the tabulators couldn’t read.

… Seriously? I mean, there was no way this problem could have been discovered during an equipment check before election day?

Still, there has been nothing presented so far that would indicate this glitch was purposeful. While it may have disenfranchised some voters, we have yet to see any tangible evidence of foul play or skewed numbers that would have influenced the outcome of the election.

An Arizona Election Expert Weighs In

I recently talked at length with Christine Bauserman, a political strategist who spearheaded Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign in Southern Arizona and currently serves as the Political Director for the John Fredericks Network. Christine has maintained a strong presence in Arizona politics and has a unique understanding of the logistics and operational aspects of the election process.

As the Regional Director for U.S. Senate candidate Jim Lamon, Bauserman formed a team of election integrity volunteers, who covered 11 of 15 early voting locations and 16 voting day locations during the primaries. As a result, she became intimately familiar with the election process in Pima County, which introduced new technology based on Maricopa County’s voting center concept. In a way that now seems prescient, she warned of deficiencies in the technology and procedures as outlined in the Bauserman BOS Report from 9/28/2022.

“The installation of this complex electronic voting system was undertaken by an understaffed department with no knowledge and no expertise and then installed by the same staff who trained and oversaw an even less experienced election day staff of Poll Workers. The blind lead the blind.

NOTE: The majority of Poll Workers as well as the Election Office staff are subject matter experts on ‘elections’ not electronic voting systems.”

 Among the many systemic failings, Bauserman discovered:

  • 11 Vote Centers that had no Republicans.
  • 100% failure of Recorders and Elections to have appropriate subject matter experts solely dedicated to operating the new electronic voting systems.
  • Voters were told they could not vote.
  • Lost chain of custody on voted ballots.
  • Ran out of supplies, including provisional and affidavit envelopes
  • Printers did not print
  • Voting Center #5 was forgotten. Inspector called after 2 hours.
  • Voting Center #91 was forgotten. Inspector took the ballot box home.
  • The Recorder’s Office claims the system is so sophisticated and complex few people can operate or maintain it.
  • This electronic system has Voter Files in the cloud and a distributed database which distributes the system all over the cloud, so they are not as secure as paper ballots which are secured in a vault.

Sound familiar? I actually had to laugh when I read that an inspector took a ballot box home. These are the exact kind of issues we heard coming out of Maricopa County as well, and as Bauserman points out, many of them are in direct violation of Arizona statutes.

Fraud and Rigged Elections

Despite her brutal assessment of the voting process in Arizona, Bauserman doesn’t really buy into the rigged election conspiracy theories making the rounds on social media. As she told me several times in our discussion, “Incompetence is not illegal.” When I pressed her about hacking into voting or tabulating equipment, she wondered what it would accomplish, if it was even possible, since the tabulation totals must ultimately be matched to paper ballots. When I asked her about fabricating fake paper ballots, she told me that kind of fraud on a grand scale was nearly impossible and would most certainly be exposed on some level.

So, we’re left with incompetence, poor training and understaffing as the primary causes of the disarray we see on election day and the following weeks. Bauserman believes it is critically important to identify exactly how the newer electronic voting systems have improved the election process. The level of training required to run these systems competently is beyond the scope of typical election office staffers, who are working long hours with diminishing returns. How, for example, does reducing the data points required for mail-in ballot signature verification from 50 to 3 improve election accuracy?

Are these systems actually reducing ballot processing time or increasing it? I think anyone who has lived in Arizona before 2020 knows the answer to that question. Long lines, equipment failures and the extensive use of third-party vendors, mysterious IT technicians and outsourcing services negatively impact voter confidence and leads to suspicions that somehow, the elections are rigged.

We Must Take Accountability

I asked Christine how she could resolve the final RCP consensus polls, where Kari Lake was ahead by 3.5% but ultimately lost the election by 0.8%. The problem, as she explains it, was that the Republicans were outworked and out strategized, and she provides some uncomfortable facts to back up the assertion.

85 high-profile Republicans endorsed Mark Kelly, including former Congressman, Jim Kolbe, Former Arizona State Senator, Bob Worsley and Former Finance Director of the Arizona Republican Party, Tom Bradford. If that isn’t depressing enough, in Pima County, only 75 Republicans, but over 450 Democrats, signed up to work in the General Election.

What has not received coverage on conventional or social media was the intense effort by Democrats to comb through the inactive voter roles in the final days of the campaign to cultivate votes that probably proved to be the difference in the Arizona election. Let’s be clear, there are a lot of dedicated Republicans, like Christine Bauserman, who pour their hard and soul into these elections, but there are far too many MAGA supporters sitting on the sidelines. They all have an opinion, and they’re quick to call an election rigged, but when it comes to investing time and money, they’re nowhere to be found.

Remember that as 2024 approaches.

How Important is the Future of America?

Democrats are passionate in their dream of authoritarian rule. While you’re having a BBQ with friends, they’re attending meetings in their precinct. While you’re watching football on Sunday, they’re making phone calls to prospective voters.

It’s time we wake up to a grim reality. This is an all-out fist fight, and the stakes couldn’t be higher. If you think you can watch from the sidelines, don’t complain when you wake up to one party rule, and the Bill of Rights is a distant memory.