Home > Elected Officials, New Media, Politics > AZ GOP At Large Delegate Vote Counting Fiasco

AZ GOP At Large Delegate Vote Counting Fiasco

By Pepper Draper

Ballot Counting on May 14th 2012

I was the first to arrive at the AZ GOP Headquarters at about 12:45. When I saw that there were others coming, I went in with them and sat in the front row. Thayer Verschoor came over to me and sat down by the Computer. He stated to us that they were only allowing two supporters from each campaign to be present. I replied to Thayer  “this decision was ridiculous since we had all been present the entire day waiting for these results.” He said that those were the rules.

About that time, Shawn Dow came in and sat in the front with me. Thayer reiterated that there would only be two allowed to be present. Shawn stated we would follow their rules. Shawn obviously was one of the two and the other had to be Brett R.  who was present when the ballots were sealed and he signed them.  When he arrived, he stated to me that he was fine with me staying if I wanted to once he opened the ballot box. I asked him what measures were taken to secure the votes and he said  “it wasn’t much, just taping up the box and signing it.” This of course gave concern for me since, what prevents tape from being lifted off and laid back down on a plastic container?

What is amazing to me is that there were no better provisions made for securing ballots than a plastic container? When the GOP left the building that night after the votes, did they not think how important it would be to secure the ballots and insure that if there were any challenges to the results, that they could show that there was no tampering? Boxes with 3 locks could have been secured, giving each party a key that only could be opened when all three were together. Even more simple than that, specially made envelopes that could hold all of the ballots with secured tape and signatures from both parties and the GOP, but a plastic container? This is just one evidence of complete incompetence on the AZ GOP.

Back to the events of the day, the two witnesses from the Romney Campaign were not yet present, but several Ron Paul Supporters were in the room. When Nathan Sproul and a woman that I am assuming is from his office,  named  Meagan entered the room. The first thing Nathan said in a sharp and loud voice was, “We agreed that there was only going to be two present from each campaign, I am NOT going to be in this room with Ron Paul Supporters!” I said to him, “We are going to wait outside and follow the rules, we were only waiting for you to arrive.” I quickly gathered everyone up and we went outside. About 15 minutes later Brett R. came out and told me to go in, which I did.

When I got in there Shawn Dow was in the front row, while Nathan and Meagan were in the second row to the left of where I sat in the front row.. The first thing that happened was that George started on the far right scanner and computer (which was referred to as computer 2) to scan the Alternate (At Large) Ballots page two.

This becomes tricky because there were two pages with the delegates names front and back. Each name was assigned a number, but on both pages they started with the number one instead of continuing on page two with the next number leaving from page one. When it was time to merge documents, that were numbered exactly the same on both pages, there was a program issue that George had to “fix.” This was actually discovered the day before while I was in the counting room and a woman asked George how they were going to know which number  was for who? George put his hands on his head and gasped! He said he was going to have to write in the program how to differentiate the two.

Once the document “training” was done by George on the computer 2, a young man named Laddy was the one  filling the ballots into the scanner and pressing the continue button. At ballot number 216, we had our first “ballot refusal” which followed by pages 217, 218, 300, 303, 306, 308, 309, 310, 313, 315, 317, 319, 329, 330, 412, 415, 416, 419, 595, 596 for a total of 21 ballots rejected. When each of these ballots were rejected, George had to come and look at them. The first problem came when the ballots scanned half of one and half of another. The final total of ballots for this batch was 596.

While, Laddy was loading the scanner for the first scans page 2, George was “training”  computer  1 for the Alternates (At Large) Ballots page one. These ballots actually scanned easily the exception for page 409 and the total ballots were 611.

However, two different times during the first scan of the page 2, somewhere in the 300’s some of the ballots fell on the floor after being scanned and Laddy picked them up and put them on the scanned pile rather than putting them back in their original place.  After the scanning was done, both parties wanted to know about the refused ballots because when then totals were calculated, there was a very close number between delegates. Those ballots could determine who would actually be the alternates. George explained that we could find the refused ballots in the computer, match them up with the actual ballot and then rescan them. I said that there were ballots that had fallen on the floor and put on the pile and thus they were not in the right order, Laddy agreed that did happen twice which now complicated things a bit more. George then said that they were within about 10 and so we could find them. George started to go through them, but then asked if there was anyone who wanted to count them, I suggested that he count out a stack of 50 and then he could use that as a guide for counting out 50’s and would be within a page or two. When he realized that it would be “too hard” to find the out of order ballots, he said we should scan them again. Which we began all over again.

On the second run, ballots 106, 107, 110, 201, 240, 243, 301, 338, 362, 363, 365, 372 were now rejected, however these were marked with a yellow sticky and ran again. Each one that was rejected was verified by myself and Meagan and then was accepted by the computer program.

Once these were scanned, George went through a long process of manipulating the computers trying to merge the two documents together to get election results. Throughout this process he kept saying how “tired” he was and now that he had these documents he could “go in and write/correct the program errors.” I asked him several questions that I was not sure of:

  1. Did the ballots’ results get sent to elections headquarters (like the state ran elections) or are the ballots’ results calculated in the computer program?
    1. His answer was that the results were calculated in the program
  2. Who wrote the computer program?
    1. His answer was that he wrote it and it was a work in progress
  3. When did he write the program and when was it tested?
    1. His answer was that he was still working on it late into the night on Friday night, the night before the Convention. He also said that he was still testing it on Saturday.

This should raise several eyebrows when securing and verifying voting accuracy. First, he was the programmer, so he could be the one to manipulate anything in the program at any time, which he did, which is evidenced by the admission on Saturday that the asterisk and the name being moved up on the CD Ballots caused the votes to shift.  Someone who did not have access to the program should have been the one to scan and then calculate. However, this would have required successful testing which brings us to the second issue. The program was not even tested successfully before the actual elections took place. They were not certified by either Campaign prior to the election and even if they had been, the programmer could have changed the programming any time he chose.

Finally, when he was ready to print the results, the calculations showed that there was a tie between two Romney delegates and one Ron Paul delegate. Nathan suggested that we have Thayer draw the names out of the box. Shawn said he needed to go and consult with Headquarters. While he was outside, I said that I was not comfortable with Thayer doing the choosing and if Shawn agrees to do this, I would suggest that Laddy, be the one to draw the names, since he was honest about the ballots falling and making sure we were told when there was an error. I felt at least we could somewhat trust him. Nathan said that Laddy worked had worked for him, but I said, I still trusted him more than any other person in the office. When Shawn came back, there was no decision made about the drawing because there was another issue that had arisen with the Delegates that were scanned on Saturday night.

When we asked George what the problem was he said that he had only programmed it to calculate the first 160 ballots and he could not certify the results! It was then determined that those ballots that were already scanned, had to be verified. Thayer went into the locked room to find the ballots. He was looking around the room, going through plastic tubs, while  Laddy was standing at the door, shaking his head in disgust. When he finally found them and brought them out, the ballots were not sealed. I said to Thayer, “You guys didn’t seal the votes?” he did not respond to me and kept his head down, but Laddy looked and me and mouthed the words, “NO.” Several times throughout the day, Laddy had given me looks that said “what was going on was unbelievable!” When he opened the plastic container, he did not know which ballots were page 1 and which was page 2 of the A Delegate Ballots. They also had lost a couple of the pages of the print out. It took about 10 minutes to figure out what everything was…page 1 and page 2.

George spent another 45 minutes or more reprogramming or whatever he was doing as he was typing away in the computer.  In the meanwhile, Shawn decided that we would do the drawing and took my suggestion that Laddy be the one to draw. The Romney  people in the room was saying things to him like, “remember don’t draw the name that would allow for Iran to get nuclear weapon’s” Laddy’s comment was, “NO COMMENT!” then they would say, “Don’t grab the name that would allow for the legalization of all drugs including heroine and LSD” and Laddy would reply “NO COMMENT!” I really admired this young man. I know he supported Romney, but I felt that he was honest. The new order was now Middleton at position 19, Davis at 20 and Ron Paul Delegate Anna Larson at 21.

George was finally ready to run the already scanned program internally and while running it, these following numbers came up with a rejection on A Delegates Page 2: 116, 117, 118, 324, 354, 545, 723, 724, 725, 726, 727, 729, 730, 731, 732, 733, 735, 736, 738, 740, 743, 744, 745, 746, 749, 751, 754, 757, 758, 759, 761, 762, 765, 766, 767, 768, 769, 771, 772, 773, 774, 775, 776, 777, 778, 779, 781, 782, 784, 785, 786, 787, 788,  At this point he did not tell me that there were others that had been rejected until 803, then he said, “Forget it! I am stopping it, there are probably a 100 votes that are messed up!” He then looked at my paper counted up what I had written and said “Ya, probably a hundred…. we have to rescan.” We do not have a total since he stopped the scan, but based on what we alredy had it was most likely true that we had around 100. He would later dispute that and say it was a “SWAG” (Sxxx Wild Axxx Guess) We do not know if we would have had a hundred or not, but at this point we had 54 that had defiantly  been rejected.

He then ran the scanned ballots for A Delegate (At Large) Page 1 in an internal overview within the computer program with pages 94 and 898 that had failed for a total count of 898. He declared this a clean scan and prepared to merge the documents together to calculate the results. Once they were printed, Nathan was confused at what the report was showing  so, one of the ladies who worked in the office, I believe she was the same one who questioned George the day before about how we would know which numbers were going to be correct because of the double numbering, was trying to help him understand the printouts. She did state that they had changed the format for the print out for page 1 and page 2. Shawn had stated to Thayer that he wanted page 1 and 2 scanned again and Thayer did not answer in regards to page 1 that George had declared clean. How were we to know if that were true because the ballots had not been secured.

Once the A Delegate (At Large) page 2 was correctly identified, Laddy and George started to feed them into the scanner again. This time pages 119, 212, 553, 554, 885, came up as rejected for being backwards and were ran through at the end of each section that they were rejected from. When they were ran, the total was 900 ballots.

After George combined these he started calling off numbers of total votes cast. First he stated there were 4698. Then immediately stated there were a total votes cast of 15, 809. Then he said the first reading was 15, 806, then again the second reading was 15, 808, then a third 15, 809. Then he finally said, “when I run this fourth one, that should tell us which one is the accurate count,” it came back as 15, 809 and that was his final Votes Cast count. I tried to identify what exactly that number meant especially because we only started the day off with 1147 voters. However, he did not makes sense on this issue for me, so I have no idea where that number comes from.

George then took the two pages of information and combined them on the first computer. He then calculated the results and made a print out, which did not show a significant difference in the top 20.  After some discussion between Nathan and Shawn privately, they both knew there was a problem because Nathan stated that with a 100 page error there should have been a significant difference, but it was only a 4 vote change. At this point I was not sure exactly what either of them were looking for, but clearly there was a problem.

While Shawn was outside talking to Headquarters, there was being some discussion going on about George forgetting to add one of the Romney names and said that if George had done that there would not be an issue. George apologized for the mistake. I stated again that Shawn wanted page 1 scanned again, and George said that he was not going to scan the ballots again, that he was putting his foot down. When Shawn came back in I told him what was said and he asked George if he was “refusing to rerun the scans?” To which, he said “yes, because there was no point, it ran clean.” Then Shawn asked him if he would email all of the results to him and he agreed to do that. Lee Miller, the GOP Attorney (?) quickly interjected stating  “they were property of the GOP and that no he would not be emailing them.” Then George said he “should have consulted with the Attorney first.” Then Thayer clarified that “yes it was possible to email them, but no he would not be emailing them.”  From what I took of that is they refused to give the results of the tally’s to the Ron Paul Campaign.

Now, the situation became clear when Nathan said to George that it “was clear that there is an anomaly  in the program because statistically, if there were a hundred votes missing, each of the top people should get an additional 20-40 votes. With a 50 ballot error, there should be an additional 12-15 for the top go-getters,” but they didn’t so, it was obvious to all of us that there was clearly a calculating error. Romney had all the delegates, but the last one and Nathan reiterated again that if George had added the name, this would not be an issue. However, the last Delegate who was Matthew Papke, had more votes than the guy than the Romney Campaign had to write in. Nathan then began to ask where do we go now? Shawn went outside to confer with Headquarters and while he was out a discussion ensued. So, I asked them to hold on while I get Shawn. I went outside and called him in.

Once Shawn was in, Nathan began to lay out the situation of what had happened during the day and asked Lee what the ramifications would be if the Ron Paul Campaign challenged this in Court? Lee stated something to the effect that it would not go anywhere. Nathan then began to tell us that if the Paul Campaign wanted to waste more of his( Nathan’s) time, that was fine but the result will be that we would lose all of our delegates because they will mail out an A Ballot and a B Ballot and we would lose. It was in our best interest to take the one Delegate and the Alternates because it was obvious from the convention that we did not have the votes.

Looking at the results myself from the two different printouts, the numbers were all over the place. On one Matthew Papke had very little votes on the next he was the top go getter. The other issue is that I know that the Ron Paul campaign as a majority voted for the slate we had been given. There might have been a few off here and there who may not have gotten the text, but overall the numbers for the slate for Ron Paul should have been very close and they were not, they were all over!

At this point, Thayer was putting names upon the whiteboard for the CD winners and there was discussion that there were errors. I did not have time to write down just because things were starting to move fast to a close. However Nathan repeated his threat and then said he was going to leave. I quckly said that the ballots needed to be sealed before any of us leave here. He said  that he “trusted the GOP to seal them up and take care of it” and I said “I didn’t.” Thayer agreed to have them sealed and another guy got some duct tape and started to seal them. I signed them and Shawn told me that if I signed them I would have to be present in order to have them open, which I agreed to do.

I also stated that I did not feel this was an adequate seal since anyone can take tape off of a plastic container, but it will have to do.

An issue for me was that I wanted the ballots hand counted to verify those numbers, but that fell on deaf ears. The numbers that were generated after all the computer manipulation by George were never verified by a hand count.

Another observation was that the Romney people came and went as they pleased. They were not even paying attention to what was going on. If it had not been for me watching and explaining what was going on they would have been lost. The lack of concern for the integrity of this election was appalling.

Side notes: Conversations

I had different conversations with Thayer throughout the night, but I asked him why it was that after the first ballots came back wrong didn’t he just have the CD’s hand-count the ballots? He mouthed the words, “George insisted on running them through the scanners.” Personally, I do not believe this because Thayer seemed to be the one running things. Everyone had to ask him for permission for something. I am aware of a delegate who had a personal conversation/confrontation with Thayer asking him who authorized the asterisks on the ballots? Thayer did admit to him that he did. Even if that were true, at some point someone in the AZ GOP office could have over-ridden that thought and suggested he figure out what happened  instead of continuing to use a program that was clearly in error. Why not say that openly where George could hear what was said? Instead he mouthed the words which tells me that he was not truthful.

On the same subject of the “electioneering” that was being done with the Romney endorsement, George brought it up and Nathan quickly said that he had offered the Paul Campaign to put their endorsement on the ballots but we refused. Shawn calmly said that, “campaigns have different ethics, we did not feel it ethical to add our endorsement to the ballots.” Nathan got furious and said, “Shawn it is uncalled for to call my ethics into question!” Shawn replied “I didn’t call your ethics into question, I simply stated that campaigns have different ethics and we did not agree that should be done.” George immediately said he never should have brought it up and Nathan huffed out of the room. George said, “If it was up to me, I never would have done that, personally.”

Throughout the day, the Romney Team kept making accusations against the Ron Paul supporters. It was like they were trying to goad us into an argument, but neither of us took the bait. There was only one time, after a few hours of this nonsense, when another guy came into the room and started talking about how he had tried to guard the stage, but the guy pushed passed him and how physical and rowdy the Ron Paul supporters were. Then Meagan asked him how many people were arrested? I then said, “No one was arrested; there was no need for it. We left the building peacefully and wasn’t pushing Romney people.” She then jumped on that and said that she had witnessed several people pushing and getting physical. I told her that I video-taped it and I never saw anyone pushing other people around. At that point I realized I needed to be quiet and just said  “I should not have said anything, but  you certainly do not know the art diplomacy.” I was not there to have a debate on what happened. I have plenty of complaints about the behavior of the Romney people and the GOP, but this is not where it was to be done. All that was important was that we get the ballots counted, which I believe should have and still should be hand counted, because the results are not reliable.  I did not leave there knowing that what was calculated was accurate. In fact, after seeing the results, I was even more convinced there was a problem because the Ron Paul Supporters voted the slate, the results did not reflect a unified vote. A few votes off here and there is possible, but not the way I remember seeing the votes.

The other issues that I found ridiculous was that Nathan insisted that there were only two Ron Paul people in the room, yet multiple Romney people came in and out throughout the day and were present in the room. Early on, David Fitzgerald came in to talk to Tom Morisee in his office and Nathan swore and said that “if one more Ron Paul person walks through that door (which no one but myself had come in) he was leaving!”  It was appalling to watch individuals act and behave so rudely to get their way.

Voting Accuracy Issues:

  1. There was no testing of the ballots prior to the Convention by bot Romney and Paul witnesses to ensure the program was calculating correctly and we still do not know that.
  2. There were no procedure in place to hand count the ballots for verification of accuracy.
  3. Security for the ballots was anything but secure. Plastic containers with tape is unacceptable.
  4. Ballots that should have been secured, by at least the tape, was left in an easily accessible container.

After having seen the delegates list that the AZ GOP put out, it does not reflect what was even printed out on Monday night. It is as though they have hand-picked who they wanted. Its shameful!

These are just some observations, I hope I have covered everything. If there is anything that needs clarification, please let me know.


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