By Corinne Murdock |
An appeal may be underway in the case challenging the attorney general race results after Pinal County reported undercounting hundreds of ballots.
Pinal County added to their count over 500 more ballots, effectively halving Democrat Kris Mayes’ lead from 511 to 280. Republican Abraham Hamadeh gained 392 votes, while Mayes gained 115 votes.
In a statement, Pinal County dismissed the missed ballots as “human error” that mainly impacted Election Day votes. The county pointed out that it had a 99 percent accuracy rate, based on the fact that the 500-odd vote discrepancy amounted to a .35 percent variance within 146,000 votes.
“[T]he recount process did what it was supposed to do — it identified a roughly five hundred vote undercount in the Pinal County election attributable to human error,” stated the county. “[I]n light of threatened litigation and rumored appeals, Pinal County can make no further comment at this time.”
READ PINAL COUNTY’S RECOUNT SUMMARY
The county also speculated that election workers mistakenly believed certain tabulators were counting votes when they malfunctioned.
Prior to the recount and throughout the lawsuit against them, the county admittedly knew the major vote discrepancy existed. The Board of Supervisors’ new chairman, Jeff Serdy, told Arizona Daily Independent that their officials hadn’t said anything because they weren’t sure what they were allowed to say. Yet, their board of supervisors certified the election in late November anyways.
Pinal County wouldn’t have had the first board to reject election results over concerns of improper election management or malfeasance. Former Pima County Supervisor Ally Miller said in a statement to AZ Free News that she and fellow supervisor Steve Christy refused to certify the 2020 election due to concerns about her county’s administration of the election. Miller noted that she and Christy had “just cause” per statute to do so.
“I felt certain that a vote approving the canvass would have not only been malfeasant but fraudulent,” said Miller.
Miller opined that signing off on faulty election results may constitute a felony, citing the recent debacle over the Mojave County Board of Supervisors’ initial refusal to certify their election results.
“We heard from the Mojave County supervisors this year that they voted in favor of the canvass under duress. They claimed they were warned by the County Attorney’s Office that if they failed to certify this year’s election before the statutory deadline they would have invalidated all Mohave County elections and failure to approve the canvass may have represented an act of malfeasance,” stated Miller. “They said they would be at risk of committing a Class 2 misdemeanor under Arizona statute. Not only is the legal advice they received disputed, for some of us, it would be a felony to sign-off on an election that was not completely fair and free from shenanigans, or substantial human error.”
The massive discrepancies across the board spurred Secretary of State-Elect Adrian Fontes to remark that the variance was problematic. He said that a recount should yield only single digit differences — not hundreds. Fontes said that the county didn’t “step up” by training or preparing properly, and indicated that increasing funds and resources would remedy the issue.
“It is absolutely, really problematic to see the number of ballots in Pinal County that weren’t tabulated,” said Fontes. “If we’re not funding, training, and staffing these departments, we’re going to have these kinds of problems.”
However, Fontes didn’t hesitate to congratulate Mayes on the victory.
Outgoing State Sen. Kelly Townsend (R-LD) expressed her disappointment with the recount results.
The county’s Democratic and GOP parties issued a joint statement on Friday calling the recount a success and issuing their support for the recorder.
Pinal County has been beset with problems throughout this election year. In August, former Elections Director David Frisk resigned after back-to-back issues ahead of the primary. The county faced several lawsuits after mailing about 63,000 voters incorrect early ballots. Then on the day of the primary, the county failed to have enough ballots on hand for voters. Workers were forced to disenfranchise those voters.
Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.