Wednesday, March 25, 2009

RTA Election Next Steps

Posted By on Wed, Mar 25, 2009 at 12:45 PM

Yesterday, the Tucson Weekly received a copy of a letter sent Monday by the Attorney General's Office to Jeff Rogers, chairman of the Pima County Democratic Party, regarding AG Terry Goddard's next steps in the recount of the 2006 Regional Transportation Authority ballots as part of his ongoing RTA criminal investigation. The letter is from Donald E. Conrad, division chief counsel of the AG's Criminal Division.

The letter confirms an examination of the ballots will begin on April 6, and will take place over the course of five days. It also confirms that the AG's office has arranged for the count to be done by the Maricopa Elections Department.

The letter is part of an invite going out to the Pima County Democratic Party, Republican Party, Green Party and Libertarian Party, to each nominate three people. The AG will then select one person per party to be a witness to the examination process in the room with the ballots.

The AG just doesn't want names, however; the AG also wants birth dates and Social Security numbers to do a background check on each person. Nominations need to be in the AG's office by March 30. Other restrictions include no cameras, cell phones, pens or pencils, or audio and video equipment.

Some election integrity activists aren't too pleased with the fact that they can't bring in paper and pencil in case they want to document information. But for others, it's a more practical matter: How do you find three people that can commit five days in Phoenix?

"I'm happy the AG took control of the ballots, and it appears to be very transparent. They've taken great steps to assure this is done in a very transparent manner," says Bob Westerman, chair of the Pima County Republican Party.

"As far as the process, I find it a little odd that we have to submit three names, and that they pick the one out of three. I don't see how it would matter who it is? It is an extra step I don't understand. And for me as a chairman it makes it tough to find three people qualified, but can also spent five days in Phoenix. I have basically a week now to find these people and they in turn have less than two weeks to make plans to be there."

I tried to reach Rogers, but was told he is in Phoenix. We'll keep trying to find out how he decided to respond to Conrad's letter and who he plans to send over as a rep for the Pima County Democratic Party.

If you would like to go to Phoenix to watch the process, the AG will have an area set up to accomodate a limited number of people interested in watching the process through a glass partition. And Maricopa Elections has made arrangments to put the process on the Internet through live streaming video.

Those addresses, or how to get access to the glass partition viewing area are forthcoming from the AG's office, according to the letter.

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