Today, Judge Miller ruled that all databases from election past and future must be disclosed to the political parties. This is a victory for citizen oversight of our elections, complete vindication of the hard work and passionate advocacy of the Pima County Democratic Party and it's attorney, Bill Risner, and a repudiation of the obsfucation, stone-walling, and out-right lies of the Pima County Administration and County Attorney's office in the course of this litigation.
More after I have a chance to read Judge Miller's ruling...
From what knowledge I've gained of public records law and elections law through this lawsuit, Judge Miller's ruling is reasonable, correctly interprets the relevant statutes and case law, and would hold up very well to any appellate review.
Key to Judge Miller's ruling that all past database files must be released was his finding that there was no evidence presented to the court that there had been any harm to election security as a result of the prior release of two database files from 2006 ordered by the court, and subsequently expanded by the Pima County Board of Supervisors to roughly 300 files. Public pressure that forced the Board's hand was therefore very useful in the ultimate resolution of this controversy. None of the experts from which the Court accepted testimony attempted to measure the impact of that release; at most the Party's experts inferred in their responses that there would be no impact. The Court therefore took into account the absence of any adverse consequences from the earlier release of the 2006 records in finding that the County had failed to overcome the presumption that public records must be released when requested.
The Court dealt separately with the issue of a prospective application of its order to release the records to future elections. He reasoned that since the files are a regular and necessary part of the election process, are readily identifiable, and the public policy reasons supporting release apply to all future elections, a prospective order was proper. The one caveat is that the Judge left open the possibility that the County might seek specific relief for cause from the order.
The Court then considered the proper timing of the release and concluded that to prevent any confusion and to uphold the statutory roles of the canvassing boards and county government, the files should be released no later than announcement of the official canvass. That announcement starts the clock for any legal challenge to the election, making that the most appropriate deadline for the release. Thus the database files now become an integral part of the multiple election records that are exchanged, release, declared, and officially recorded.
Now the question becomes whether the County Board of Supervisors will appeal Judge Miller's ruling. Only 5 people (or is it just 1?) in Pima County can answer that question. And they won't answer it unless asked. Repeatedly. Broadly. Authoritatively. If you feel strongly about this issue, let people know. Tell your Party leaders. Tell your elected officials. They can't act on your opinions unless they know them.
Now is the time for those Democrats on the Board who have been intransigent about this issue to see the light and allow themselves to bepersuaded by the elegant and entirely satisfactory vision of Judge Miller that release of the database files used to tabulate the election become a routine and integral part of the process by which the public is informed and reassured that all is well with their democracy. They need to come back in from the cold, listen to their own Party's united voice and stop allowing the Administration of Chuck Huckelberry make them fools and villains in the eyes of the own natural constituents. You might think that the primary challenges to Democrats springing out of the grassroots might be enough to persuade them. Maybe the voice of justice, added to the voice of the activists will be enough to finally stir their consciences.