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Attorney General Probes Maricopa County For Potential Violation of Election Law

November 22, 2022

By Corinne Murdock |

Over the weekend, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office advised Maricopa County that it may have violated election law.

According to the attorney general’s office, their Elections Integrity Unit (EIU) received hundreds of substantive complaints concerning Maricopa County’s handling of the election. Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Wright asked the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office to explain the faulty printer settings, issuance of unlawful information regarding voting “check-out” procedures, and the unlawful mixing of “Door 3” non-tabulated with tabulated ballots by next Monday. At least 17,000 voters across 60 voting locations were impacted by Election Day tabulation issues. 

“Arizonans deserve a full report and accounting of the myriad problems that occurred in relation to Maricopa County’s administration of the 2022 General Election,” stated Wright.

According to sworn complaints received by the EIU, printer settings were fine during testing the day before Election Day. Wright asked the county to provide the attorney general’s office with a comprehensive report detailing the voting locations that experienced printer or tabulation issues, the specific issues experienced by each voting location, all issues related to the printers and tabulators that contributed to voting location problems, a log of all changes to the printer settings that includes the identification of the individuals who made the changes, the county’s standards for printer settings, the exact time when the county discovered printer settings were the cause of the widespread vote center failures, and the methods used to remedy the printer settings at each voting location.

Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates said that the long lines caused by the malfunctioning tabulators weren’t indicative of voter suppression. Rather, Gates said that the long lines were caused by voters’ resistance to dropping off their ballots in “Door 3” slots when the tabulators failed. Gates alluded that Republican Party leadership was to blame for voter aversion to casting a Door 3 ballot.

As the attorney general’s office noted in their letter to the county, Door 3 non-tabulated ballots were unlawfully mixed with tabulated ballots at some voting locations. According to the EIU, at least one election observer witnessed more than 1,700 Door 3 non-tabulated ballots placed in black duffle bags intended to hold tabulated ballots only.

The attorney general’s office added that the law requires the county to reconcile ballots cast against check-ins at voting locations — not at central count. Wright asked the county to provide a statement clarifying whether reconciliation occurred at the voting locations or at central count. 

Confusion over whether the county reconciled ballots at voting locations prior to central count likely occurred due to statements by officials. The county made no mention of the reconciliation process when advising voters what happens to Door 3 ballots.

In a later apology to voters, Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer said that Door 3 ballots were retrieved by election workers at the end of the day and brought to central count. Again, Richer issued this statement without any mention of reconciliation. 

Additionally, the attorney general’s office contradicted the county’s assertion that voters could cast a valid ballot after checking into another voting location.

The attorney general’s office asserted that poll workers weren’t trained on executing “check out” procedures — further contradicting county officials’ claims that this was a viable option for voters who desired to cast their ballot at another voting location after checking in to one. EIU reports reflected that voters were required to cast a provisional ballot at the secondary location since “check out” procedures weren’t possible. 

The attorney general’s office contended that state law prohibits provisional ballots from being counted when a voter checks in at multiple pollbooks. 

The attorney general’s office asked the county to issue a report detailing when and how poll workers were trained in “check out” procedures, the legal basis for “check out” procedures, why the county continued to encourage voters to leave voting locations despite EIU notification that “check out” procedure training wasn’t proper, and all voters provided a provisional ballot due to multiple pollbook check-ins. 

The county announced on Sunday that its tabulation efforts are nearly complete. Following this, all 15 counties will complete a canvass of the votes. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

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