Maricopa County dropped the ball. They botched the election, and there is simply no way for politicians to gaslight their way out of it. After years of fearmongering from the media and the left that election integrity measures would suppress and disenfranchise voters, it turns out no one suppresses and disenfranchises voters quite like politicians and bureaucrats in Maricopa County.
Rather than taking accountability for their failures, they have rubbed their incompetence in the faces of frustrated voters, smugly downplaying their failure and patting themselves on the back, asserting that they made a “remarkable effort.”
All eyes were on this election. Everyone knew it would be contentious, that key races would be close, and that record levels of Republican voters would show up to vote in-person on election day. Given this, one would think election officials would go above and beyond to ensure every minute detail was ironed out so that the election process was beyond reproach.
Instead, within minutes of polls opening at 6 am, reports were coming in that tabulators were not accepting ballots…
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.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake challenged Democratic gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs to push back on a mainstream media warning of election hacking.
On Monday, the day before Election Day, Politico issued an article warning that hackers impose “real risks” to election equipment such as voting machines. They prefaced their warning with the disclosure that claims of voting machine hacks from the 2020 presidential election were invalid.
The Politico article stated that there were six potential threats to elections, five of which were related to cybersecurity: misinformation/disinformation, election office and campaign website crashers, campaign social media hijackers, voter registration database hackers, voter harassers, and wireless modem hackers.
Only that last potential threat, the wireless modem hackers, could compromise election results by tampering with unofficial vote data, voting machine processing, or computer tallying. Politico assured readers that this type of cyberattack would be less likely to occur because it’s more difficult and time-consuming. Discovery of this type of cyberattack would only occur through paper ballot analysis and post-election audits.
Tensions over Hobbs’ role overseeing the election as secretary of state in a highly contested race have grown over the last few weeks. Last Tuesday, Lake hired one of former President Donald Trump’s lawyers from the 2020 election lawsuits.
As TIME reported, two former secretaries of state advised that Hobbs should grant election oversight to other officials. However, Hobbs’ office told TIME that she wouldn’t do so.
Richard Mahoney, a Democrat, suggested that Attorney General Mark Brnovich or Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer assist Hobbs.
“I think it would be wise if the secretary of state seconded responsibility for ministerial oversight to either the attorney general or the Maricopa County recorder,” said Mahoney.
Ken Bennett, a Republican, suggested others within her office assume control.
“She should recuse herself from the official acts that she would normally perform as secretary and let a deputy secretary or somebody else take care of those,” said Bennett.
The latest polling favors Lake over Hobbs. According to FiveThirtyEight’s summary, Lake leads Hobbs by over two points.
Earlier this week, the Republican National Committee (RNC) and Republican Party of Arizona (RPAZ) filed two lawsuits against Maricopa County over alleged election transparency violations and unnecessary poll worker burdens. Early voting for the general election begins next Wednesday, and there’s about a month until Election Day.
In a joint statement, RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and RPAZ Chairwoman Kelli Ward expressed concern that the county’s actions would shut poll workers out of the election process.
“With midterms just 34 days away, Arizonans deserve basic transparency about how their elections will be conducted,” stated the two women. “This legal offensive is the latest step in Republicans’ ongoing efforts to promote free, fair, and transparent elections in Arizona.”
The lawsuits concern the GOP’s unfulfilled records requests pertaining to poll worker staffing and the county staffing more Democratic than Republican poll workers for the primary election: 857 to 712. The RNC expressed concern that 11 vote centers at the time had no Republican poll workers, and that less than 30 percent of Central Counting Place Boards workers were Republicans while nearly 50 percent were Democrats.
The first lawsuit contended that Maricopa County wasn’t fulfilling records requests . The RNC documented that they submitted their first records request on September 9, then a follow-up records request on September 29 asking for records not fulfilled within their initial request. The lawsuit claimed that the county provided an indirect fulfillment of the initial request: the county forwarded the RNC a copy of an email originally sent from elections day and emergency voting director Scott Jarrett to a third party, which contained “narrative information” and addressed some, but not all, of the issues inquired about by the RNC.
Apart from that email, the lawsuit claimed that the county hadn’t provided all of the public records within both requests.
The second lawsuit contended that Maricopa County violated the state’s Equal Access Statutes and the Election Procedures Manual (EPM) during the primary election, and that the county would likely commit further violations for the upcoming general election. The GOP groups declared that the county established onerous working conditions for this election year: up to 14-hour work days throughout the early voting period, including weekends; a lack of a “bullpen” of election workers to backfill “foreseeable attritions” of the “inhospitable work conditions.”
According to that lawsuit, these working conditions caused over 500 election workers to quit their positions before the primary election. The lawsuit requested that the county reform its working conditions in order to align with election law and the EPM.
“Maricopa County nevertheless failed to meet the requirements of the Equal Access Statutes and the equal representation requirements of the EPM during the 2022 primary election,” stated the lawsuit.
On Wednesday, Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer and Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates dismissed the RNC-RPAZ lawsuits as a “political stunt.” Richer and Gates insisted that it was “absurd” that they, as registered Republicans, would attempt to keep Republicans out of elections. In contradiction to what the second lawsuit stated, Richer and Gates claimed that the lawsuits don’t allege violation of election laws or procedures.
“We contact everyone on the lists the parties provide us,” stated the pair. “Maricopa County’s temporary election worker hiring practices ensure bipartisan representation throughout the election process and follow requirements established in state law and the Election Procedures Manual.”
The county also conflicted with the RNC’s timeline of its records request, contending that the RNC filed its records request on Monday.
Richer projected that the lawsuit would end in another legal victory for Maricopa County, adding to their current winning streak.
Arizona voters can breathe a sigh of relief. On Friday, the Supreme Court handed down its decision on our Free Enterprise Club lawsuit that concluded the radical “Free and Fair” election initiative lacked enough lawful signatures to qualify for the ballot. Securing this legal victory was not an easy feat, and the final days of litigation were far more suspenseful than they should have been.
In fact, the trial court came very close to letting the other side steal victory by initially adopting their lawyer’s rigged methodology to calculate the final number of valid signatures that would have snuck the measure back onto the ballot…