Op-Ed: Observations after touring Arizona’s Election Audit Operation

I recently accepted an invitation to meet with Arizona State Legislators and tour the Maricopa County Audit facility in Phoenix, AZ.  I was joined by my colleagues Senator Cris Dush and Representative Rob Kauffman.

I was more than impressed with what I saw on the ground in Phoenix. What stood out to me most were the measures being taken to ensure transparency, security, and accuracy.

Besides the eight cameras that livestream to the public every day, there are hundreds of other cameras that are capturing everything that happens on the floor with every ballot.

When a ballot is being counted, one person is assigned to put a ballot on a carousel after counting and spin it around a table for two additional people to also count and verify. Tallies between the three counters are compared at the end of every batch. Those ballots are later scrutinized under a forensic microscope to determine if the ballot was physically filled in with a pen or by a machine.

Anyone in the world can view the audit twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week at azaudit.com.  This is transparency. This is meaningful access.  

Nothing is being hidden to the public or to audit observers.

The comprehensive forensic audit has four main stages:

Registration and Votes Cast Audit

  • This will confirm that those who show as having voted is an accurate representation. Volunteers ask all registered voters in several identified precincts the following questions to validate that the results match what is shown in the voter history:
    • Did you vote in the 2020 General Election?
    • What method of voting did you use in the 2020 General Election?
    • Where did you cast that vote?
    • When did you cast that vote?

Vote Count & Tally Audit

  • Volunteers hand-count and visually inspect all the paper ballots to ensure accuracy in the vote tallies within Maricopa County. The volunteers consist of non-partisan former Law Enforcement, veterans, and retired individuals who have gone through extensive background checks.

Electronic Voting System Audit

  • Audit team confirms that the electronic voting system utilized is generating an accurate representation of the votes that were cast through the system. All tabulators, adjudication machines, election management system servers, workstations, and related media have digital forensic images captured. Forensic images are reviewed for nation state level malware by analysts who regularly respond to attacks against our country. Forensic images are also reviewed for any evidence of the deletion of data, destruction of data, or the manipulation of results. Election tallies and results will be pulled from the images to validate the counts match the expected results.

Reported Results Audit

  • Audit team confirms that the results tallied at the various stages are the same as those results that end up being published as official. The output from all four phases will be compared against those results published at the county and state level; in addition to what eventually was reported as official.

Here in Pennsylvania, a cloud of suspicion hangs over the 2020 General Election. Hundreds of sworn affidavits from eyewitnesses alleging fraud, irregularities, and illegal behavior during the election have lain dormant. Our Governor, Secretary of State, and Attorney General intentionally ignored them and conspired to ensure this evidence would not be investigated or heard in the court of law.

A Muhlenburg poll from earlier this year showed that 40 percent of Pennsylvanians were not confident that the results of the 2020 election accurately reflected how Pennsylvanians voted. How can we have a healthy Constitutional Republic when that many citizens feel that their vote does not count?

A county audit like the one authorized by the Arizona State Senate is critically necessary for our Commonwealth. Those who have concerns about the accuracy of the 2020 election will have a forensic audit to investigate their concerns. Those who think that there was zero voter fraud, no irregularities, and the elections were conducted perfectly will have the chance to be vindicated.

Sadly, we already seeing strong resistance to a transparent forensic audit from leading PA Democrats. Governor Wolf stated that audits like the one in Arizona are “an insult to election workers and to voters.”

Wolf’s heir apparent, Attorney General Josh Shapiro, went a step further saying that if an audit is brought to Pennsylvania, they would “have to go through me… and every time they have tried to take me on…I’ve won.” This is a bizarre statement from the Attorney General who also believes that any allegations of fraud in the 2020 election are a “conspiracy theory.” Ironically, before a single vote was counted on Election Day 2020, AG Shapiro said that when all the votes were tallied: “Joe Biden would be elected President of the United States.”

My question for Governor Wolf, AG Shapiro, and partners in the corporate media who echo their talking points is this: What do you have to hide?

This is not about overturning the results of the 2020 election. The goal is to confirm the effectiveness of existing legislation on the governance of elections or to point out areas for potential legislative reform.

The people of our state should have confidence that their vote counts. It takes accountability and transparency to ensure that our elections are free and fair.

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