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Iceland Experiences Fourth Volcanic Eruption in Three Months; Conspiracy Theory Leaves Arizona County With a $200k Problem; March Napness Competition. Aired 4-4:10a ET

Aired March 19, 2024 - 04:00   ET


COY WIRE, CNN 10 ANCHOR: Hello, friends. Welcome back to CNN 10. Rise up. It`s Tuesday, March 19th. Remember, tomorrow is Your Word Wednesday, so

follow me @coywire on social. Put a unique vocabulary word in the comment section of my most recent post, along with the definition, your school,

city, and state, and we`re going to choose a winner to help us write tomorrow`s show.

All right, we begin today in Iceland, where a volcano has erupted again. It`s the fourth time since December a volcano has erupted in southwest

Iceland. This time forcing the evacuation of the popular tourist destination, Blue Lagoon, as well as the nearby town of Grindavik.

According to officials who spoke with Iceland`s public broadcaster, RUV, this eruption is considered as the most powerful of recent seismic

activity. Iceland is one of the most active volcanic areas on the planet.

So, despite the potential dangers, the country is well prepared for these events, utilizing anti-lava barriers and other measures to protect people

and critical infrastructure. Our Michael Holmes has the latest for us, and the why, as this latest event is something tourists were hoping to witness.


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A siren wails at the world-famous Blue Lagoon Spa in Iceland. The orange plume lighting up the night sky

means it`s time to evacuate again.

For some tourists, this is part of the excitement, one of the reasons they came to Iceland: to see its active volcanoes. And there has been a lot of

activity lately. This is the fourth time since December that a volcano has erupted in Southwest Iceland, less than an hour from the country`s capital,


The fissure is estimated to be roughly three kilometers long and flowing once again towards the town of Grindavik, where emergency teams are working

to reinforce the town`s defenses.

HALLDOR GEIRSSON, GEOPHYSICIST: And most of the flow is going East of the town towards the sea. So it -- it looks like the barriers are really doing

the job they were designed for.

HOLMES (voice-over): Grindavik was first evacuated in November after a series of earthquakes split open roads in the town, heralding the

reawakening of a volcanic system which had been dormant for nearly 800 years.

Then lava first burst through the surface in December, followed by a second eruption in January that destroyed several homes and buildings in the area.

A third eruption last month demolished a hot water pipeline and cut off heat to more than 20,000 people.

The last few residents of Grindavik, who had returned to their homes, have been evacuated again. And Icelandic authorities have declared a state of

emergency for the area, calling this the most powerful eruption on the Reykjanes Peninsula since 2021.


WIRE: Pop quiz, hot shot. What type of voting led to an election controversy during the 2000 U.S. presidential election?

Hand-counted paper ballots, mechanical lever machines, punch-card machines, direct-recording electronic devices.

If you said punch-card machines, you are correct. A grueling 36-day Florida recount battle stemmed from problems with the state`s punch card machines

where poor ballot design left hanging chads on some ballots. Ultimately, George W. Bush won the state and the presidential election.

Let`s turn now to elections, where multiple states will be holding their primaries today, including the State of Arizona. Now, the two dominant

parties, Democrats and Republicans, have their presumptive nominees for the presidential elections, but there are other primary races still taking

place, so these races still matter as local officials work to maintain election integrity, one county in Arizona is dealing with the financial

fallout caused by conspiracy theories regarding their paper ballots.

Back in the 2020 presidential election, theories surfaced that foreign countries inserted fraudulent paper ballots to influence the outcome. Those

who believed these theories wanted more protections, and an Arizona program was created to add extra security features such as watermarks and invisible

fibers onto paper ballots.

Cochise County`s recorder, the person who helps run elections, decided to participate, but the process took longer than expected and deadlines were

missed. The result, this Arizona county now has nearly $200,000 worth of supposedly fraud-proof paper that it can`t use. Our Donie O`Sullivan,

examines this expensive mishap.


DONIE O`SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is a story about paper. Lots and lots of paper. Americans have been voting on paper for most

of the country`s history. But back in 2020, conspiracy theories about paper started to spread.

HEATHER MOORE: He`s looking for bamboo-laced ballots.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fraudulent ballots were unloaded from a South Korean plane --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Into Arizona, and it was stuffed into the box.

O`SULLIVAN (voice-over): All of that led to this. Five tons worth nearly 200,000 of supposedly fraud proof ballot paper. It`s currently lying on the

floor of this warehouse in Phoenix, and no one is quite sure what to do with this.

(On camera): Had there ever been a problem with the paper before?

JEFF ELLINGTON, CEO, RUNBECK ELECTION SERVICES, INC.: No, no one`s ever questioned the paper.

O`SULLIVAN: And then what happened?

ELLINGTON: We get into 2020. There`s rumors of bamboo in the paper and paper from China and a lot of different just stories that circulated. And

so it just kind of went from there and people started questioning it.

O`SULLIVAN: As you were seeing that play out, what were you thinking?

ELLINGTON: That it was nuts.

O`SULLIVAN (voice-over): Enter David Stevens, he ordered the paper.

(On camera): Paper itself, ballot paper. People have concerns about that.


O`SULLIVAN: And what were those concerns?

STEVENS: That people were making their own ballots and then interjecting them into the system. They were coming from foreign countries. Maybe we can

make our paper more secure, so we would know quicker or easier if it really is a valid Arizona ballot or if it is not.

O`SULLIVAN: Do you personally believe the bamboo paper thing?

STEVENS: I don`t know much about it, other than they think it came from wherever.

O`SULLIVAN (voice-over): Stevens is a top election official in Arizona`s Cochise County. Cochise is home to Tombstone, but it`s a place where

election conspiracy theories won`t seem to die. In 2022, election skeptics, delayed certification of the midterm elections here. Stevens` opponent in

an upcoming election says he is part of the problem in Cochise.

(On camera): Cochise has been in the headlines a lot the last few years because of elections, and mostly for bad reasons.

ANNE CARL (D), COCHISE COUNTY RECORDER CANDIDATE: It`s an uphill battle because there are people who spread disinformation about our elections.

This theory that there`s a problem with our paper, so it was a solution in search of a problem because we`ve never had a problem with our ballot


There are all kinds of safeguards and on top of other safeguards to make sure that the wrong ballot paper doesn`t cause any problems.

O`SULLIVAN (voice-over): Runbeck Election Services takes these huge rolls of paper and turn them into millions of ballots that are used across the

country. But not these two rolls of special ballot guard paper ordered by David Stevens using a state grant.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So this is a sample of the ballot guard paper. So when you shine on a black light, you get these UV fibers that now become

apparent. Additionally, there`s what`s called an IR tagging, and it`s a chemical in there that when you hold a scanner over it, it`ll vibrate.


(Voice-over): A missed deadline and other bureaucratic snafus has put a halt to the so-called secure paper experiment.

(On camera): So, I mean, it`s essentially $200,000 gone to waste?

STEVENS: A little less than that, but yes.

O`SULLIVAN: So this sounds like a bit of a nightmare.

STEVENS: I -- pretty much, yes. I want it to be over.

O`SULLIVAN (voice-over): But Adrian Fontes, Arizona`s top election official, says Stevens` experiment shouldn`t have started in the first


ADRIAN FONTES, ARIZONA SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, the economic costs of the conspiracy theories in Arizona are real dollars. Now, the paper that was

purchased by this one county based on these conspiracy theories, that is absolutely useless. And we can`t even use it. They can`t use it. This is

taxpayer dollars down the drain based on lies.


WIRE: It is bracket time as March Madness tips off this week with the best men`s and women`s college hoops teams facing off to see who will be crowned

champs. But if all that running and jumping sounds too exhausting for you, maybe it`s not your thing. Maybe we can learn about March Napness.

Our Jeremy Roth explains the tournament that`s more about the snores than the scores.


JEREMY ROTH, CNN DIGITAL VIDEO PRODUCER: Finally, move over March Madness make way for March Napness. Oh, it`s a thing, all right. It`s a kooky

competition put on by the FOUR PAWS Animal Welfare Organization, allowing folks to make picks on the hibernation schedules of a slew of sleeping


It`s not too late to fill out an online bracket, and whether you win or lose depends on who hits the snooze. Five more minutes, mom.


WIRE: A bracket for napping? Love it. Also love you. Thanks for following and commenting on our CNN 10 YouTube channel for your shout out requests. I

want to show some love to the Huskies up in Portland, Oregon, Alice Ott Middle School. I salute you.

And want to send a shout out to Fortine Junior High School in Fortine, Montana. We see you, Panthers. See you tomorrow, lovely people.

#YourWordWednesday. Bring it.

I`m Coy Wire. And we are CNN 10.