Anne Carl Commentary: County should continue to use vote centers

Letter to the editor: Herald/Review 9/25/23

To the editor:

We need good governance and fiscal responsibility. Not precinct voting. Not paper registers. Not nostalgia for nostalgia’s sake. So let us continue using Vote Centers (Agenda Item #15 at Tuesday’s meeting) and e-poll books. It would be foolish not to have them.

Read the entire letter at

County should continue using vote centers

Anne Carl – Hobbs’ “Hand Count” Bill Vetoes, and Why I Support One But Not the Other

Gov. Hobbs was wrong to veto HB 2560; however, she was absolutely right to veto HB 2722.  What is the difference?

HB 2722, which current Cochise County Recorder David Stevens reportedly co-authored, would have allowed for the substitution of a full hand-count, rather than an audited machine count, for counting our votes.  That bill was bad, because the election tabulation machines used here in Cochise County have consistently provided us with our most accurate tally of ballots – not to mention our most time- and cost-effective tally.
These ballot tabulation machines are of course tested and retested for accuracy.  By law, multi-partisan groups test them before and after each election. I and many others have participated in past checks, and they are essential, if time-consuming.
Some joining-in to do them inevitably miscount. With humans and especially human volunteers, this happens. But fortunately, with enough patience for recounting, everyone arrives at the same place eventually. Not surprisingly, it is also where the ballot tabulation machines arrived days or weeks earlier.
This lawful and controlled audit [i.e., hand count (and recount)] is time well-spent, serving to assure me and most County voters that our machine tallies are reliable.  That is not enough for some people who want to count all ballots, though. Nor does it have to be.
But Gov. Hobbs also vetoed HB 2560, a bill that I and others like Sec. of State Adrian Fontes supported.  Unlike HB 2722, HB 2560 would have made actual ballot images publicly available. This in turn would have allowed supplementary hand counts, i.e., the opportunity for more – not fewer – checks on the process.
Hobbs reasons for vetoing HB 2560 were also unfortunately erroneous, at least some of them.
First, providing ballot images does not “threaten anonymity and privacy.” Nothing on a ballot can be traced back to the voter casting it.  A QR code identifies its precinct only, not its voter.  And although a vote-by-mail ballot’s internal envelope is signed and includes a barcode that has the voter’s name and address, that is for tracking and verification purposes only. It is removed once the envelope’s signature has been verified. Immediately upon removal, the anonymous ballot is added to a pile of other anonymous ballots to be run through a high-speed counter.
The only two possible ways that publicly available ballots could reveal a voter’s identity would be A) if voters themselves leave identifying marks on them, or B) in very small precincts, if only one or two ballots are cast. “A” can happen, but it is rare and each voter can easily avoid it. “B” is also extremely unlikely, but HB 2560 addresses the possibility anyway by exempting images of ballots from precincts with fewer than 25 registered voters.
Second, calling this “burdensome” and “unfunded” is a stretch. Ballot images are stored electronically already. So apart from the separate storage and the Secretary of State employee time in making copies of images available through a managed portal, there is no additional cost. Management would include requiring proof of identity of the requestor, plus a signed declaration that the person will not use the material for commercial purposes or voter intimidation, and will not alter the ballot images. This costs, for sure, but it also buys greater confidence.
Third and finally, Governor Hobbs suggested that sharing ballot images will contribute to mis- and disinformation. Sadly, and though the bill includes certain safeguards, I cannot disagree. But bad actors will use anything to try and mislead those who are easily misled. And they will do it with or without publicly available images. The best we can do is to continue safeguarding the original ballots and their original images, while allowing people with good intentions to see and count a complete set of actual images for themselves if they want.
Democrats, not to mention fair-minded Republicans, Independents, Libertarians and others, stand-up for democratic principles like transparency and the rule of law. Here, Congress intended that election records be available for public inspection. For greater transparency and greater trust in our process, we need HB 2560.
Note:  a version of this commentary appeared in the Herald/Review.

Anne Carl Campaign Kickoff – Sierra Vista AZ

Candidate for Cochise County Recorder,  Anne Carl, kicks off her campaign on July 20, 2023.  Come and meet Anne and learn about opportunities to volunteer to help her beat David Stevens in November 2024!
Everyone is welcome.  Please signup on Mobilize.