Public Expresses Outrage at Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Meeting

Public Expresses Outrage at Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Meeting

By Corinne Murdock |

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting on Wednesday included over an hour of public comment on Election Day issues. The majority of the public who spoke expressed frustration over the county’s handling of the election. BOS Chairman Bill Gates asked the crowd repeatedly not to clap, cheer, or issue commentary.

The main takeaway from several commenters and the BOS was that voters dissatisfied with current election processes needed to petition their legislators to change election law.

Several individuals thanked the BOS for their handling of the election. Among them was Ann Wallach, former Maricopa County Democratic Party Chair. Wallach said she doesn’t believe widespread voting suppression or election fraud are occurring. Wallach suggested that those dissatisfied with elections processes petition their legislators. Wallach said that mail-in voting doesn’t increase fraud, prompting angry cries from the audience. 

“If there are people that are unhappy with our present system, I suggest that they take a look at the legislature and see if there’s action taken there that they don’t like,” said Wallach. “We’re all Americans and I think we all want to win fair and square.”

Several poll workers questioned election processes. One poll worker said the election needs to be nullified because of all the problems she witnessed. Another poll worker claimed that her location had 200 more ballots than voters that had checked in, located in Box 3 storage — where Election Day voters dropped ballots the tabulators failed to read. That same poll worker also claimed that the 17,000 voters affected by Election Day tabulation failures was a low estimate. 

Another citizen expressed concern about the impartiality of the county officials, considering that Gates and Recorder Stephen Richer supported a PAC to defeat Trump-backed candidates. 

“It’s not just a conflict of interest, it’s a specific agenda and a pre-bias going into it, so at the very least you should’ve recused yourself from any part of this election having opened that in 2021,” stated the woman. 

Multiple citizens also expressed frustration with how they felt the officials brushed off the Election Day issues. 

Martín Quezada, who lost in the treasurer’s race to Republican incumbent Kimberly Yee, thanked the BOS for their administration of last week’s election.

One voter proposed that the county have a runoff to provide a remedy for those who were prevented from voting due to mass tabulator failures and delays. He also questioned why Gates promised 99 percent of votes would be counted by last Friday, then announced on Thursday that the goalposts had shifted.

BOS Supervisor Steve Gallardo defended the county’s handling of the election, commending the workers. Gallardo added that the voters expressed valid concerns but indicated that these weren’t pervasive. However, he said nullification of an election has no legal pathway under current law. 

“Our election system is safe, secure, and accurate,” stated Gallardo. 

BOS Supervisor Thomas Galvin thanked the poll workers for sharing issues they’d experienced. Galvin said that the state legislature had been “sitting on their butt” when it comes to establishing election law, hence why it takes so long to count the votes. 

“We’re all very disappointed in what happened and we want to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” said Galvin. 

Vice Chairman Clint Hickman added that Arizona couldn’t count more quickly like Florida because this state’s laws are different. Hickman told the citizens he was grateful that they behaved better than some anticipated.

“There were certain people and groups that want us to believe that you will come and act up and be ungracious and unhumble. That is pathetic, but we were girded for that,” said Hickman. “I want to thank you guys for coming here and speaking your voice.” 

Gates said that their conduction of elections only took 8 days rather than the historical average of 12 days. Gates said he was disappointed that the audience kept interrupting him. 

“It’s important people know the facts,” said Gates.

Gates promised they would publish a canvass of the votes soon. 

Watch the BOS meeting here:

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

Pinal County Officials: Secretary of State Partly to Blame For Ballot Shortage

Pinal County Officials: Secretary of State Partly to Blame For Ballot Shortage

By Corinne Murdock |

 In a press conference on Wednesday, Pinal County shared that the secretary of state’s office supplied them with a faulty formula that led to Tuesday’s ballot shortage across about 25 voting precincts. The county implied that unique voter behavior phenomena exacerbated weaknesses in the formula that caused the shortage. 

Pinal County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeffrey McClure and Pinal County Attorney Kent Volkmer spoke on behalf of the county to address the issue.

Volkmer said that the secretary of state’s office attempts to help counties with a formula to project in-person voter turnout. However, he said that didn’t help in this election due to reports of a substantial number of voters spoiling their mail-in ballots in order to vote in-person, an increased number of “independent” voters requesting Republican ballots rather than Democrat ballots, and a 10 percent population increase since the last election.

“Quite frankly, we underestimated. That’s what happened. There were more people that showed up than we thought were going to show up,” said Volkmer. 

Volkmer added that the process of estimating in-person ballots was guesswork, attributing the election night fiasco to “human error” and “training errors.”

“Every elected official is embarrassed about what happened,” said Volkmer.

Unlike Volkmer, McClure couldn’t speak to why the ballot shortage occurred.

McClure said that he wasn’t “entirely sure” how the ballot shortage happened. The county’s elections director, David Frisk, is tasked with ordering the proper number of ballots. McClure relayed that Frisk would likely be removed from his position over this “major screw-up.” However, as one reporter pointed out, Frisk was still overseeing primary election ballot counting, which continued after Tuesday. McClure assured the reporter that the county has “lots of eyes,” implying that they were watching Frisk at work. 

Volkmer said that approximately 2.5 percent of ballots were impacted potentially, or about 750 votes. However, the county attorney said that was an estimated guess at best. Of the over 900 ballot types at 95 active polling locations, there were 25 types that either ran low or ran out. Volkmer added that the county’s reporting system for election issues doesn’t allow for differentiation between shortages and total depletion. 

“We can’t tell you the exact number [of precincts] that ran out,” said Volkmer. “The actual number of people impacted, we have no way to purely assess. It would be speculation for us to guess the number of people, we can only base it on feedback.”

The county attorney said that just under 300,000 voters were notified of these shortages through their notification systems. Volkmer said a redo of the election wasn’t possible without court intervention.

2022 PRIMARY ELECTION RESULTS

State Senator Kelly Townsend (R-Mesa) informed McClure and Volkmer that ballots never came for a number of constituents attempting to vote for her. Townsend, who lost Tuesday to State Senator Wendy Rogers (R-Flagstaff) by about 5,000 votes, clarified that she was at peace with the election results. 

Townsend asserted that her voters were disenfranchised because they came in the afternoon rather than the morning. She suggested an injunction for those who never got to cast their votes.

“This election has been so flawed and has Fourteenth Amendment issues. How can we proceed forward and say, ‘Oh well, sorry guys’?” asked Townsend.

Volkmer said there was nothing they could do, but reiterated that voters who remained in line were given the opportunity to vote. 

State Representative Neal Carter (R-Queen Creek) notified Volkmer and McClure that he attempted to file an injunction on Tuesday as soon as he heard about the ballot shortage. The court system is still processing the injunction. 

Volkmer assured Carter that the county attempted to print ballots at a faster pace, but that their machinery was too antiquated to print quickly. 

On Thursday, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs issued an indirect response to Volkmer’s press conference remarks. Hobbs made it clear that counties hold sole responsibility for determining ballot numbers.

“Counties are responsible for calculating how many ballots to order. Under Arizona law, counties should review their voter registration statistics by precinct and party (for the Primary) to determine how many ballots to order,” tweeted Hobbs. “The Secretary of State determines which candidates and issues qualify for the ballot at the federal, state, and legislative level.”

While Pinal County was struggling with their ballot shortage, Hobbs attended her victory party for her gubernatorial campaign. 

On the night of the election, the county attributed the shortage to “unprecedented demand.” They assured voters that they would be eligible to vote so long as they were physically in line by 7 pm. 

Pinal County encountered a serious issue with its elections last month as well. The county mailed about 63,000 erroneous ballots, which they resolved by sending supplemental, or “Municipal Only,” ballots. Voters were required to use their original ballot to vote on federal, state, and legislative contests, then use the supplemental ballot to vote on races absent from the original ballot.

Similar to the county’s apologies about the ballot shortage, Frisk attributed the tens of thousands of erroneous ballots to “human errors.” 

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