Shiva Questions Maricopa County Regarding Scanned Ballot Envelopes

  • by:
  • Source: UncoverDC
  • 09/19/2023

On Sept. 26 Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai sent a letter to Senate liaison Randy Pullen asking why the images Maricopa County gave him were compressed copies of original images. In his Sept. 24 EchoMail audit report for the Arizona Senate, Shiva focused on examining early voter ballot return envelopes (EVBREs) to determine the number of duplicate ballots in the 2020 election.

A key part of his investigation focused on the signature box portion of the EVBREs. One of the questions raised in his investigation centered around blank signatures that were verified and authorized. He also questioned authorization stamps that appeared to fall behind the black arrow on the ballots.

ABC15's Garrett Archer explained the anomaly that perhaps compressed files and the way a scanner sees those images could have explained why the stamped authorization appeared as though it was behind the arrow. Archer's theory was when a scanner looked at the black arrow, it picked up on the filled-in arrow but saw it as an outline instead.

Last Thursday, UncoverDC wrote a summary of Shiva's report but purposely omitted reporting on the stamp "anomalies" piece of his presentation. We wanted to hear from Dr. Shiva first, asking him to revisit his thinking about the placement of the stamps.

To clarify, UncoverDC sent a request through Rep. Mark Finchem to Dr. Shiva to ask him to review his work and contact the County for clarification—Shiva did not respond directly to either UncoverDC or Finchem. However, Shiva did write a letter to the County, which revealed he never knew the files he was given were compressed. Dr. Shiva writes:

"What is most concerning is to find out now, for the first time since EchoMail was engaged for this audit, that the images EchoMail received are a compressed version of some original version. This means that modifications took place, e.g., compression on the original images that were created from [the] scanning of the voter's original EVB return envelopes."

There may be two possibilities. Either, in the original scan, the scanner did not "see" the overlaid stamp on the solid black, so wherever they overlapped, the stamp disappeared—making it look as though it is behind the arrow (as Dr. Shiva showed in his report) or the data was lost once the files were compressed. Shiva says he only received compressed files, not the originals.

Shiva's sent a letter to Pullen, on Sept. 26, captured below:

Shiva Pullen Questions/Sept. 26, 2021

Shiva's Pullen Questions/Sept. 26, 2021

Shiva's first question is why the original images were not provided. It certainly would have helped his investigation. If the original, uncompressed images captured a filled-in, blackened arrow or triangle, then it may have been easier logically to deduce why a stamp that was overlaid on the arrow wasn't detected. The stamp may have become more difficult to see because a scanner may not see a signature on top of a solid black arrow.

The question remains why 1,919 blank signatures were verified and approved as valid signatures during Maricopa County's signature verification process. 17,126 voters sent in two or more ballots, according to the EchoMail report. Some are saying the duplicates are re-scans of envelopes that need curing.

Shiva acknowledged in his report the possibility that some EVB's may have been accepted by the County even if a signature was not in the signature box.

Shiva Questions/Report Sept. 24, 2021

Some examples of the approvals of the blank signatures from Shiva's presentation are captured below:

Shiva Report/Blank Signature

Ballots and Ballot Envelopes are Digitally Captured

As seen in the video below, the ballot envelopes for Maricopa County arrived at Runbeck; they are sorted, barcodes are processed and validated, the signatures on the ballot envelopes are digitally captured and then transmitted to the County for processing and tabulation.

Damaged or unreadable ballots are also processed digitally by Runbeck's Novus Ballot Duplication Software. The ballot is recreated on-screen and verified so it can be printed and then tabulated by the County. So, the damaged ballot is scanned, assigned a duplicate id, batched and imported into Novus. There they are reviewed side by side and then are printed for tabulation.

Runbeck Novus Software for Damaged Ballots

The procedures for EVBREs, signature verification, handling of duplicate ballots are all clearly laid out in the elections procedures manual. Early vote ballots and mail-in ballots are covered in Pp. 67-75 of the manual. Procedures for duplicate ballots, provisional ballots, procedures for verification of the two, voter verification procedures, procedures for updating voter registration records, and the checks and balances to reconcile the ballots with the voter can be found starting on p. 201 of the manual.

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