Balloting Irregularities

John Brakey insists there was fraud at one precinct during November's election--and he has evidence backing him up

Pacing as he talks, John Brakey believes he has uncovered serious problems with November's election results in Pima County--results that could have national implications.

Brakey admits he was a Democratic Party poll watcher who was escorted from his own precinct. But after six months of extensive research, Brakey is convinced what he saw on Election Day was voter fraud.

He accuses some of the people who worked at his polling place of stealing votes for George Bush. "These people knew exactly how the system works. I know those people were in there doing bad things," Brakey says.

Contacted by Brakey the day after Election Day, Pima County's director of elections, Brad Nelson, looked into the complaint. "There were four Republicans and three Democrats working at the polling place," Nelson says, "and I spoke to as many of them as I could. They have all attested in writing ... that everything was fine."

Acknowledging the poll workers did make errors in how they handled both the balloting and bookkeeping processes, Nelson indicates that some of them won't be asked back for future elections. Then he adds: "There were bookkeeping problems, but I can't find anything to substantiate irregularities that affected the outcome of the election."

After countless hours of research, Brakey ardently disagrees. He thinks poll workers obtained ballots by marking "spoiled" on some valid ballots and then casting their own choices as replacements.

Brakey also believes several people who requested early ballots but came to the precinct on Election Day had their "provisional" ballots manipulated there. Based on the records he has, Brakey additionally insists that other votes were cast by poll workers who covered up the act by making it appear people who didn't vote actually did.

Scattered across Brakey's dining room table are stacks of election documents for his precinct. He has entered all the data into a computer that allows him to track the voters. "The county looks at numbers," he emphasizes, "but I looked at names."

Once the alleged problems are meticulously explained, with the paperwork carefully examined, it makes for a strong argument that well more than 10 percent of the almost 900 votes from Brakey's polling place were questionably handled. It was a very busy day at the precinct, but the irregularities are glaring.

Among numerous categories of problems, several stand out. Thirty-nine questionable "provisional" ballots were apparently improperly placed into the optical-scan vote-counting machine instead of being sent to the Pima County Recorder's Office for verification. In addition, while the poll workers certified there were 59 provisional ballots cast, only 53 people actually signed as having done so.

The list of problems grows longer. Some voters' names appear twice on the official roster of those who showed up on Election Day, indicating they were given two ballots. Precinct records also indicate that several people were provided a second ballot because they spoiled the first one, but Brakey says he has contacted a handful of these people--and they deny it happened. Based on that, he believes poll workers cast at least some of these second votes.

Nineteen people also didn't sign in at the precinct, but according to the polling place paper trail, a few of them did cast ballots there. Others from this same list aren't shown as voting by the recorder's office, but claim they did. One person in this latter category, when contacted by phone by the Weekly, was positive she did vote in November.

For those who did not sign in on Election Day but had a ballot given out in their name, it's possible someone else may have gotten it. An example is a Libertarian voter who didn't sign in, and is not shown as voting by the Pima County Recorder. Her name, however, appears on the roster, prepared by poll workers, of those who actually received ballots--but she is mistakenly listed as a Republican.

When asked to explain this particular discrepancy, Nelson replies: "I have to fall back on what the board workers told me. But that absolutely should not happen."

Brakey thinks this process was intended both to create votes for George Bush and to switch some intended for John Kerry to Bush. "It was all part of a strategy," he says, "with the intent to convert enough Democratic votes to Republican to win the (national) popular vote."

Not satisfied with his own analysis, Brakey hooked up with David Griscom, a 33-year employee of the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., before his retirement to Tucson last year. Reviewing the precinct results statistically, Griscom says he found the data supports Brakey's views.

"There was fraud," Griscom insists after trying to mathematically reconstruct what happened at the polling place. "I think the poll workers arbitrarily picked some innocent people and were in cahoots with other voters."

These serious allegations were turned over to the Pima County Attorney's office. After an investigation, the case was recently closed, based in part on Nelson's written assertion that he found "the integrity of the November 2, 2004 General Election at (the) Precinct sound and reliable."

Brakey remains undeterred, saying of the county election's director: "He's a bureaucrat and wants this swept under the rug."

Even though John Kerry received only 1 percent less of the precinct's votes than Al Gore did in 2000, Brakey continues to believe there was foul play involved last year.

"No way was this gross error," he insists. "The only way you screw things up this bad is you have to plan. It was methodically planned out. But if it was gross error, we have a pretty bad system, and your vote is a joke."

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