A Pima County Superior Court judge has ruled that ballot images produced by local voting equipment are “exempt from disclosure by Arizona election law.” In August 2016, county resident Richard Hernandez filed a complaint asking that digital ballot images from the upcoming primary election be preserved. It was then the county election department’s policy to delete those images, which are used to tally votes by the new system. A judge soon granted a temporary injunction mandating that the county cease deleting the images. In his May 24 ruling, Judge Richard Gordon made that injunction permanent, but also — citing the Arizona Constitution’s requirement of “secrecy in voting” and recent legislation — ruled that both ballots and images of them are exempt “from public disclosure.”
Senate Bill 1094, which was signed into law in March, states that “digital images of ballots are protected from physical and electronic access … and that all security measures are at least as protective as those prescribed for paper ballots.”
“While the wisdom of such laws might be legitimately questioned given the absence of transparency in the technology being used, that debate is for the legislature rather than this court,” Gordon wrote.