By Corinne Murdock |
On Thursday, State Senate President Karen Fann (R-Prescott) revealed that Maricopa County election officials ordered postal workers to destroy live ballots that were undeliverable. Fann noted that those ballots were vulnerable because they weren’t destroyed immediately. Fann also insisted that there were over 700,000 ballots that didn’t have proper chain of custody documentation. Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer dismissed Fann’s claim in a statement to AZ Free News, explaining that the ballots in question weren’t live ballots and that, upon being discovered as undeliverable, the barcode on each ballot in question is canceled and therefore unusable.
Maricopa County Election officials claimed they could account for every ballot delivered to the election departments. Fann refuted that claim. Instead, she claimed that there were ballots returned to the post office because they were undeliverable, and the election officials ordered them to be destroyed because they weren’t “needed.”
“Those ballots never went back to the election department, they never went back to run back,” said Fann. “Those were still live ballots that anybody could’ve tampered with until such time that the post office destroyed them. Why were we allowing that to happen?”
Fann said that there were investigations underway to determine the legality of allowing the postal office to destroy live ballots on their own time.
These remarks were conferred in an interview with “Conservative Circus,” where Fann asserted that Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s interim report of the 2020 election was only “scratching the surface,” and that more would come to light. Fann confirmed that Brnovich’s report discovered exactly what she expected they’d find. She ascribed Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and mainstream media’s negative, “apoplectic” reactions to the report, as described by host James T. Harris, as fear over full exposure of the mass cover-up of problems in the 2020 election.
“It’s still a cover-up. I don’t say that lightly,” said Fann. “We’re finally being validated that, yes, in fact there are problems with our elections system here in Maricopa County.”
AZ Free News reached out to Richer about Fann’s claims. Richer reiterated the county’s promise that they could account for every one of those undelivered ballots, and that none of the canceled ballots were voted on. He asserted that Fann was misconstruing a normal partnership between elections offices and post offices.
“Karen Fann is again distorting the truth to fit her narrative. Since 2015, Maricopa County has used an ‘Electronic Service Requested’ endorsement on election mail. We have a contract in place for the United States Postal Service to provide the Elections Department with an electronic file on each mail piece so the office can expedite address checks as required by law. Ballots returned through the Electronic Service Requested process are not ‘live ballots’ as Karen Fann stated. Each early ballot has a unique barcode that cannot be replicated. The barcode on each returned packet is canceled and the ballot can no longer be used to cast a vote,” responded Richer. “The fact is, the United States Postal Service is a government agency tasked with the safe handling of billions of pieces of mail, including the secure destruction of undeliverable election mail. This process is used by Elections Departments nationwide. Maricopa County has a record of every mail piece returned through this process as well as every ballot returned by voters. Our system shows that no attempt has ever been made to cast one of these canceled ballots.”
Brnovich’s report explained that his Election Integrity Unit (EIU) discovered instances of election fraud, but that their review is ongoing and therefore limited to further disclosures on that subject. The attorney general summarized that there were system-wide issues with early ballot handling and verification, calling the signature verification system “insufficient” against preventing fraud. One example noted that well over 206,600 early ballot affidavit signatures were verified in an average of 4.6 seconds per signature. Brnovich also revealed that about 20 percent of early ballots were improperly transported from drop locations to election headquarters.
“We have reached the conclusion that the 2020 election in Maricopa County revealed serious vulnerabilities that must be addressed and raises questions about the 2020 election in Arizona,” said Brnovich.
Fann lamented that several Republican colleagues joined Democrats to kill several election integrity bills this session. She said that the problems highlighted by Brnovich’s report were only several of the problems that would be found pending further investigations. Fann didn’t name the “one or two Republicans” that prevented key election reform legislation from passing, but our reporting indicates that she was likely referring to State Senators Paul Boyer (R-Glendale) or Michelle Ugenti-Rita (R-Scottsdale).
“This is why it is so important we do not ease up on this,” said Fann. “We know where the problems are, so why aren’t we securing that so that the problems don’t happen again? That’s all there is to it.”
Fann called it “frustrating” that the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors pushed back against any scrutiny of their elections. She also called out County Recorder Stephen Richer for falling short of his campaign promises, in which he pledged to right the wrongs of former recorder Adrian Fontes. Fann added that Richer’s public remarks about how their county ran the 2020 election perfectly contradicted an email she brought to the “Conservative Circus” interview, in which Richer said there were “plenty of instances of actual prosecuted and convicted election fraud violations.”
Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.