Jim March, a member of the election watchdog group Black Box Voting, entered the Coconino County Elections Department in Arizona this week to request some public records regarding a recent election in which questionable tactics were involved.
He was accompanied by at least one person with a video camera, which prompted two public officials to tell him he wasn’t allowed to record.
Naturally, this makes for an entertaining video that we probably otherwise would never have seen.
It starts off with Candace Owens, Coconino County Recorder, confronting him, ordering him to turn off the camera, threatening to call police.
Then Patty Hansen, Coconino County Elections Director, informs him of the same, also threatening to call police.
A cop eventually comes, informing them that he would document it all in a “police report, but pretty much leaves it at that.
This is how March explains it on his Youtube description:
Getting public records out of the Coconino County Elections Department (a division of the County Recorder’s Office) is like pulling teeth even without a camera. WITH a camera, it’s like pulling teeth on a rabid wolverine. They’ve made a common mistake: “you don’t have a right to film me without my permission”…well no, not true – not in a public place when you’re doing a public job as a public official!
As to the public records: the main thing we’ve found is the use of a USB memory stick repeatedly the night before election night, on election night and for five *hours* the next day (when provisions were being processed – and in one election provisionals made up 20% of the vote). Each time the USB memory stick is used, it’s a violation of election laws: in Arizona voting systems have to be certified and remain un-connected to any other system. With good reason: updates and anti-virus software aren’t allowed. The only real security is an “air gap” between that system and the outside world and the county repeatedly violated it. Worse, each time they used it they did multiple insertions and removals in a pattern that suggests not just “doing a backup” or “uploading results”, but rather copying critical files back and forth and very possibly modifying them on other systems. The main vote database is in MS-Access format and anybody with a copy of MS-Access on another system could literally do anything they want to the outcome of the vote – especially in the all-mail-in elections in Flagstaff and elsewhere.
But beyond that: these videos weren’t taken during peak election times. During the main vote-processing observation period it’s crucial to be able to pull out a camera and document something funky without lunatics screaming at you that they’re going to call the cops, and then wondering if said cop will be a psycho. In this case, the cops called actually realized that “Photography Is Not A Crime” but the election officials still didn’t seem to fully get it.
A repeat visit will be required.
Let’s see if Owens and Hansen learn the law by the next time he visits.
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CARLOS MILLER’S LEGAL DEFENSE FUND
I am immersed in a legal case where I not only want to clear my criminal charges stemming from my arrest in January, but I want to sue the Miami-Dade Police Department for deleting my footage, which I was able to recover.
My goal is to set some type of precedent to ensure this does not happen as often as it does today where cops simply get away with it.
So if you would like to contribute, please click on the “donate” button below and contribute whatever you can afford.
You can also contribute to my Legal Defense Fund by purchasing a photographer rights lens cloth and/or laminated card to wear around your neck like a press badge through Zap Rag.Please write “carlos3” in the comments section of the Paypal transaction to ensure I receive a portion of the sale.
Also, in an unrelated PINAC matter, I recently went through a hair transplant operation and I’m documenting my recovery on this blog if you are interested.