Ballot printer questions in Arizona

I am pretty technical.  I was surprised that shrink to fit became a talking point at the hearing on Thursday in Maricopa County.

I primarily know of one program that offers a shrink to fit option: Excel.  Shrink to fit is, in my understanding, an application-level setting.  Some copiers have a shrink to fit option, but it takes a literal picture and resizes it.  That process does take some time and computing resources, and that copier is usually on the expensive side of the equation.

What I missed Thursday is where they allege that the shrink to fit option was set.  If they are alleging that it was set in the voting application software, the software should have audit trails for changes, and we should be able to see if that was indeed the case.

If they are alleging that the change was made in the printer, then did anyone check the printer manual to see if that was indeed an option?

I have worked with Oki, Brother, HP, Epson, etc., and I can't remember the printers generally having a shrink to fit option.  Printers are designed to receive data and print it.  There is only so much processing power in a printer, and typically, printers just don't have the processing power required to resize an image.  That is ultimately what shrink to fit does.  It performs an image-resizing function.

If it was not the printer configuration, then did someone check the application to see if it has a shrink to fit option?  For example, Microsoft Word does not have that option in the print settings.  Microsoft PowerPoint does not have a shrink to fit option.

I know that the lawyers were throwing a curve with this admission, but just because you are familiar with shrink to fit in Excel does not mean that the function is universal in all applications or printers.  I just did not see the foundation for this explanation.

In listening, it became clear that damaging testimony about the ballot sizing was resonating.  And someone familiar with Excel came up with a cover story.  What I did not hear was anyone stopping to ask a few basic technical questions.  Was a shrink to fit option even possible with the printers in question or from the application?

After a quick look at the OKI printer manual, I am not seeing a setting that allows shrink to fit.  If my cursory look holds up, then this was an application setting, and I don't think the field technicians could have made the change.  There has to be technical expertise on this system that can quickly confirm or deny if this is an actual application setting for the version of software they are running.

Just admitting that this was a problem that was created on Election Day, and that it did impact some voters, I think requires the court to look further into the exact impact of the problem admitted by the county.  We know that at least 70 locations had printer-related issues.  That is significant.

That the admission essentially was made only after misprinted ballots were identified in court, I think, should be even more reason to look deeper.  I am skeptical that this is a real explanation for the ballots that were identified by the expert witness.  I think a giant technical leap has been made without all the proper foundation.  I hope the lawyers working on this dig into the technical details a bit more ASAP.

Maker S. Mark (a pseudonym) is a patriot who can understand and explain advanced math and science and is worried about the state of the nation and how to solve the problems we face.  United we stand, divided we fall.

Image: Kari Lake.  Credit: Gage Skidmore via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0.

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