“Where there’s crisis, there’s opportunity,” as the saying often attributed to Albert Einstein goes.
In the midst of a widespread Election Day disaster concerning tabulation machine malfunctions reportedly caused by printer settings, Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer capitalized on the crisis in his county as an opportunity to fundraise for his campaign.
In an email to voters publicized by the Arizona Daily Independent, Richer explained his office takes responsibility for voter registration and early voting. Those in charge of the tabulator failures would be the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, he added, throwing in commendation of his own job performance. Richer included a contribution link and a disclosure that the email was paid for by his reelection campaign.
“Since becoming Recorder in 2021, I have worked hard to improve voter registration and Early Voting, while also supporting the Board’s administration of Election Day operations and tabulation, as well as bolstering communications about elections holistically,” Richer said in the email.
On Richer’s personal Twitter account, which he usually uses to discuss his work, this letter was published without disclosing its campaign origins or including the contribution request.
Voters faced with faulty vote centers were faced with multiple options, some leading to potential disenfranchisement: leave without voting, spoil their ballot, cast a provisional ballot, or wait in the hopes that their ballot would be tabulated properly (sometimes for hours).
GOP consultant Constantin Querard told the ADI that this was a bad move on Richer’s part.
“I can’t imagine a worse time for a County Recorder to be soliciting contributions than on Election Day, while your voters are stuck in line, waiting for your malfunctioning machines to be repaired so they can vote,” said Querard.
The Maricopa County Recorder isn’t just dedicated to elections — he’s dedicated to commemorative literature. Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer bought multiple copies, or “a box,” of a book satirizing the Arizona Senate’s 2020 election audit, “Goodnight Audit,” a parody of the classic children’s book, “Goodnight Moon.”
“Goodnight Audit” author Trevor Nelson, a parent activist and marketing manager, shared Richer’s post.
Nelson’s tweet from early last May served as inspiration for the cover art of the book. The post played on the name of Senate President Karen Fann (R-Prescott), pointing out a fan left on in the abandoned room.
The original inspiration for Nelson’s post came from Garrett Archer, ABC15 Data Analyst and former Arizona Secretary of State Senior Elections Analyst, who pointed out that the auditors left a fan running on site after they’d left for the day.
Several weeks later, Nelson launched a Twitter account to help fundraise for the parody book, @goodnightaudit. “Good Night Fan” was to be the book’s original title.
On Friday, Maricopa County issued an explanatory statement of two claimed fraudulent votes outlined in a new “ghost votes” theory challenging the integrity of the 2020 election. Failed state representative candidate and “Stop the Steal” leader Liz Harris led the investigation, reportedly executed by thousands of volunteers.
These were just two claims of hundreds of thousands made in Harris’s report. The grassroots effort claimed that just over 173,100 votes were “lost or missing,” meaning that the voters never saw records from the county that their mail-in vote was counted, and that nearly 96,400 mail-in votes were cast by voters who didn’t match the associated residential address or who had moved from the address prior to October 2020 – these Harris called “ghost votes.”
Maricopa County officials explained that they investigated two of the purported “ghost vote” addresses personally. They were able to identify the first address as an existing single-family home built in 2005 and located in Goodyear. According to their investigation, four registered voters resided in the home, three of whom voted by mail in the November election.
As for the second address listed by Harris, Maricopa officials explained that the voter in question had reportedly requested their ballot at a temporary address: the site of a formerly functional mobile home that they’d voted from in the 2016 election. The site in question held mobile homes through part of 2020 before the lot was cleared.
As for the remainder of the information, Maricopa County said that they were unable to conduct a more expansive investigation because Harris wouldn’t provide them with the information she’d gathered. The officials noted that they attempted to contact Harris multiple times about her report, but were unable to connect with her.
“The integrity of election and voter registration data is central to the mission of our Office to serve everyone who calls Maricopa County home. The Maricopa County Recorder’s Office and the Maricopa County Assessor’s Office have repeatedly asked Ms. Harris to provide details that support the findings of her report,” explained the office. “While we investigate any and all allegations of wrongdoing made, we cannot do so without credible evidence being provided. To date, Ms. Harris has refused to provide the Recorder’s Office or the Assessor’s Office with the kind of information we can use to conduct a full and thorough investigation into the claims made in her report.”