Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake is fundraising to take legal action in response to the reported thousands of voters testifying their disenfranchisement. Most of the complaints concerned the county-wide vote center malfunctions that resulted in voters leaving without voting, spoiling their ballot, or having their ballot rejected later.
Lake refused to concede the race to her opponent, Democrat Katie Hobbs, though most called the race in Hobbs’ favor earlier this week.
Lake began posting voter testimonies on Thursday.
Several voters shared that they weren’t comfortable with putting their ballots in “Box 3,” which was where ballots that the tabulators failed to read were placed.
At least 17,000 voters ended up placing their ballots in that third box option. However, the number of those who refused and spoiled their ballots, then left without voting, is unknown; the county didn’t respond to AZ Free News inquiries about that estimate by press time.
Voters’ concerns about their vote not being counted once placed in Box 3 stemmed from Arizona GOP leadership, who instructed voters to refuse casting a Box 3 vote.
The county insisted that Box 3 votes would be counted. Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates rebuked those who sowed distrust over Box 3 as a valid voting option.
Another voter claimed that he has cast a regular ballot for years without issue, yet had to vote provisional last Tuesday. He claimed that his vote has yet to be counted.
Another voter testified that the printer issued faded ink on her ballot. She said that her ballot was rejected eight times before poll workers had her spoil the ballot and vote on a new one. The entire ordeal took her two hours.
AZ Free News asked the county last week whether the toner used in the printers was the same as the primary. They still haven’t responded.
In a statement, Lake said that last Tuesday’s issues were proof of what she’d been saying for months. She blamed both the tabulation machines and printers for the mass vote center failures, though the county stated publicly that printer settings were the main issue. It took over eight hours for the county to discover the issue, well into Election Day.
Lake continues to gather election complaints on a website, “Save Arizona Now.”
As of press time, Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake was close to Katie Hobbs, with only 32,200 or so votes separating them, with 350,000 more ballots awaiting tabulation statewide.
It has long been believed that Election Day votes—in person and early ballots dropped off at a voting center—will break in favor of Republican statewide candidates. But there have been complaints from Lake’s campaign that tabulated ballots thought to be from pro-Lake parts of Maricopa County are being held back.
This has kept Lake at a thin margin behind Hobbs going into Saturday night, despite the current Secretary of State’s lack of involvement in widescale public events and Hobbs’ lack of a publicized platform during the campaign.
One consideration is that many of the 17,000 “drawer 3” ballots cast in-person on Election Day, which were not immediately tabulated due to printer toner issues, have been set aside at Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center (MCTEC). Those ballots have been projected as likely coming from pro-Lake voters.
Lake and her campaign have remained positive, expressing confidence that the ballot remaining to be tabulated will break for her and the other statewide Republican candidates.
Meanwhile, Sen. Mark Kelly gave a victory speech on Saturday, although his Republican challenger Blake Masters called on Arizonans to wait until all ballots are counted.
And for his part, Attorney General nominee Abe Hamadeh alleged that the Election Day printer toner issue in Maricopa County was directed against Republicans.
Outgoing Arizona Rep. Mark Finchem has also declined to concede his race for Arizona Secretary of State, although Adrian Fontes had a nearly 120,000 vote lead. He would need roughly 70 percent of the remaining votes to hold even with Fontes.
One person who did concede already is Democrat Martin Quezada, who acknowledged Kimberly Yee as the winner of a second term as State Treasurer by a margin of more than 225,000 votes.
And as previously reported by AZ Free News, Arizona’s second populous county is warning that Pima County’s election results may not be determined for several more days.
Meanwhile, elections officials in all 15 counties were required to begin a state-mandated hand count audit. That audit involves a predetermined number of randomly selected sampling of early ballots cast and election day in-person ballots cast.
But those hand counts can only occur if the political party chairs in each county provided the names of participants by a pre-election deadline. And then the participants must actually show up to conduct the audit.
During the 2020 Primary Election in August, there was no hand count audit performed in Apache, Graham, Greenlee, or Santa Cruz counties due to a lack of participation.
An effort by some Cochise County officials to conduct a 100 percent hand count audit of all ballots hit a roadblock when the Arizona Court of Appeals and the Arizona Supreme Court declined to hear the matter on an expedited basis.
Instead, the court of appeals set several deadlines for December to hear the arguments from Cochise County’s two Republican supervisors and Republican County Recorder as to why they have authority to hand count more ballots than what is required in state law.
The appeal stems from a Pima County judge’s ruling that hand counting all ballots conflicts with language in state law for a “random” selection of ballots. A Nov. 15 meeting has been called by the board in hopes of modifying their full hand count directive to one calling for the audit of only 99.9 percent of ballots.
Attorneys for the board contend this complies with the randomness concern. One outstanding question is how Recorder David Stevens, whom the board has tasked with the expanded hand count audit, will get his hands on the ballots which are currently in the legal custody of the county’s election director, Lisa Marra.
Cochise County Attorney Brian McIntyre, himself a Republican, authored a Nov. 10 letter to Marra’s attorney outlining several “potential criminal acts” that could result if attempts are made to take the ballots from Marra’s custody without a court order.
McIntyre’s letter was copied to Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels, who has not taken a public position on how his deputies will respond if the expanded hand count moves forward.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake was unable to close the gap between her and Democrat Katie Hobbs as of Wednesday night. Hobbs widened her lead from just over 8,100 votes to over 13,000 votes.
Hobbs gained 33,000 votes, putting her at 953,700 votes; Lake gained over 28,000 votes, putting her at over 940,700 votes.
There remains around 400,000 ballots to be counted in Maricopa County. In a press release, the county approximated this to be 17,000 Election Day ballots, 382,900 early ballots, and 7,800 provisional ballots.
Lake told Fox News that she anticipated overtaking Hobbs in the coming days. Hobbs didn’t post about the ballot dump as of press time.
Arizona’s closest races were yet to be called as of Wednesday night, as incoming ballots close the gap between Democrats and Republicans. At least 611,300 ballots are yet to be counted.
Maricopa County delayed updating its remaining ballot counts for several hours. AZ Free News was unable to get the counts by press time.
The second-highest number of uncounted ballots comes out of Pima County. Their recorder, Gabriela Cázares-Kelly, told reporters on a press call that it may be until next Monday or Tuesday before they finish counting those ballots.
A court ruled against a request to extend Maricopa County polling hours despite mass voting machine failures, after Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ) petitioned to reject the request. Kelly is in a highly contested race against one of the GOP candidates that filed suit, Republican challenger Blake Masters.
Two Republican candidates, Masters and Kari Lake, filed an emergency request on Tuesday afternoon to extend the polling hours to 10 pm, after the mass failure of tabulation machines across the county for over eight hours. This extensive failure resulted in issues such as voters spoiling ballots, leaving without voting, or unwillingly casting a provisional ballot.
One of the lawyers that filed the case, Harmeet Dhillon remarked that Kelly’s intervention was hypocrisy given his public commitments to thwarting voter disenfranchisement.
“Goes to show you that Democrats’ platitudes about voting rights are often situational, at best,” said Dhillon.
A lawyer for the Arizona GOP, Alex Kolodin, called the court’s rejection “unfortunate” in an interview with “The Conservative Circus.” Kolodin shared that frustrated voters left polls, or were forced to cast a provisional ballot after they checked in at a malfunctioning vote center. The law doesn’t allow for voters to cast a ballot at another polling location after they’ve checked in at one location.
“The campaigns tried to explain to the judge that this was a very unique situation with this widespread issue where voters really were deprived of the right to vote and that made it a unique circumstance that warranted keeping the polls open a couple extra hours,” said Kolodin.
Kolodin said that at least 33 to 40 percent of vote centers were affected by tabulation machine failures. Kolodin stated that the timing marks on the ballots likely weren’t printed properly, which meant the tabulators couldn’t read them.
Kolodin added that printers have been a major issue for Maricopa County since the 2020 election, and were at the root of the SharpieGate controversy.
“It’s funny, the county has known about ballot printing issues for two years,” said Kolodin.
As the end of Election Day drew near, Republican candidates Blake Masters (Senate) and Kari Lake (gubernatorial) filed an emergency motion in court to keep Maricopa County polls open until 10 pm. Polls close at 7 pm.
The complaint cited that voters were convinced by poll workers to spoil (discard) their ballots or not vote at all. Reportedly, those voters convinced to spoil their ballots were erroneously told that they could again cast a vote at another location.
“[N]umerous individuals presenting to vote at some or all of these locations were unlawfully induced by poll workers to discard their ballots or otherwise forfeit their opportunity to cast a legally sufficient vote,” stated the complaint. “Immediate judicial intervention is necessary to prevent irreparable injury to the Plaintiffs, vindicate the clear directives of the Arizona Legislature, ensure the fair and equal treatment of all Maricopa County electors guaranteed by the Arizona Constitution, and secure the integrity of the results of the November 8, 2022 general election.”
The lawsuit stated that at least 36 percent of all vote centers in Maricopa County experienced ballot tabulation machine failures — or, about 80 vote centers. That’s an increase from the noontime estimate given by Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates, who said that about 60 vote centers, or 27 percent, were impacted by malfunctioning tabulators.
As AZ Free News reported Tuesday, it took officials eight hours to announce the potential cause for the tabulation failures: printer settings.
The Republican National Committee (RNC) and an individual, former state legislator and elector Jill Norgaard, joined in the petition.
In addition to keeping vote centers open, the group also asked the court to suspend the public release of tabulated early ballot returns in the county until 11 pm. They also asked that polling inspectors allow voters to complete and cast a provisional ballot if they’re recorded as having already cast a vote.