Kavanagh Hand Count Bill Appears To Have Support From Stephen Richer

Kavanagh Hand Count Bill Appears To Have Support From Stephen Richer

By Daniel Stefanski |

Election integrity measures haven’t been a source of unity for all Arizona Republicans over the past two years, but one bill just introduced by a state senator may have brought the party somewhat closer together on one aspect of reform.

The one-page bill, SB 1471, was recently introduced by Senator John Kavanagh, dealing with ballot tabulation and hand count comparison. According to the legislation, which would only apply to Arizona counties with a population of more than two million persons, “the officer in charge of elections in (these counties) shall randomly select four election precincts in the county from the ballot test decks used for logic and accuracy testing for the 2022 general election and shall recount all races using one hundred of those ballots from each precinct.” There would be a hand count of these ballots that would coincide with the machine count.

The legislation requires a county recorder to “compare the tabulator total and the hand count,” and take additional steps to recheck the counts should there be a “difference in the totals that is greater than one-tenth of one percent.” The county recorder would then “estimate how many persons working sixteen hours a day would be required to hand county the entire number of ballots cast in the November 2022 election.” After the conclusion of this process, the county recorder would transmit the report to the governor, president of the Arizona Senate, and the speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives.

Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer released a statement this week that appeared to be in support of the legislation, saying, “Smart legislation is key to improving Arizona’s elections and voters’ trust. …This legislation will build confidence in our election system by showing that machine tabulation is highly accurate, free of bias and fast. Thanks to Senator Kavanagh for this good idea.”

It remains to be seen if Republicans at the Legislature will be appreciative of Recorder Richer’s statement on SB 1471. Maricopa County officials and members of the Arizona Legislature have not always seen eye-to-eye over election integrity since the 2020 presidential contest, and there are often competing interests or motivations even in a perceived daylight of agreement between two opposing factions. Some legislative Republicans may see this bill as an opportunity to validate hand counts, while other Republicans may view this legislation as an endorsement of machine counting.

This bill has not been assigned to a committee, nor does it have any cosponsors at the time of publication.

Should this legislation pass the Arizona Senate and House, it remains to be seen whether it would be signed into law by Democrat Governor Katie Hobbs, who has promised to use her veto stamp on bills she believes are partisan in nature.

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.

Maricopa County Recorder: Mail-In Ballots More Reliable Than In-Person Votes

Maricopa County Recorder: Mail-In Ballots More Reliable Than In-Person Votes

By Corinne Murdock |

Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer said that early mail-in ballots are less problematic than in-person voting.

Richer made the remark during last month’s rowdy Board of Supervisors’ meeting to certify the election results. Richer said that this year’s early voting process had few issues, which he assured were remedied quickly.

“The early voting process is safe. It is secure, it is trackable, and it is subject to fewer of the caprices of in-person voting,” stated Richer. 

The county recorder disclosed that preference at the end of his summary report on the county’s election processes and relevant data. He also took a swipe at critics. 

“We can spend the next two years as we’ve spent the last two: fighting over conspiracy theories as promoted on social media by people who know nothing about elections,” stated Richer.

That line prompted loud, angry outcries from the audience. Gates pleaded calm, remarking that “the world is watching” as the audience shouted at Richer. 

Richer continued, insisting that people should stop focusing on issues like splunk logs and ballot mules, and instead focus on legislative efforts like speeding up early vote processing.

Richer assured those present and the tens of thousands viewing the live stream of the meeting that the election was run efficiently despite Election Day hiccups with tabulators stemming from printer settings. Richer noted that political observers representing all parties were present throughout the election process. 

Richer reported that Election Day voter registration totaled around 2.4 million. Approximately 77 percent of those were on the Active Early Voting List (AEVL); the county reportedly mailed out just under 1.9 million ballots.

There were 6,836 Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) votes. Over 1.3 million million early ballots were returned early: 806,000 came through USPS. Of the 461,000 early ballots dropped off at drop box early voting locations, 290,000 were dropped off on Election Day. Richer remarked that the number of early ballots dropped off on Election Day were a significant increase, despite his “best efforts” to dissuade voters from doing that.

Richer walked through the early ballot review process. He dispelled rumors that the county uses artificial intelligence for signature verification.

Richer reported that on the day before Election Day, the county had processed all early ballots received by Saturday. By Wednesday morning they processed all early ballots they received by Sunday, Monday, or by mail on Tuesday. 

Richer emphasized that the county didn’t compromise any aspect of their early ballot processing because of the “stink” raised by the community concerning signature verification over the last few years. 

He reported that the Sunday after Election Day, the early vote team had to review provisional ballots and cure ballots. Approximately 16,000 ballots had “bad” signatures, and all were cured except about 1,800.

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

Kavanagh Hand Count Bill Appears To Have Support From Stephen Richer

Maricopa County Recorder Advised DHS to Hold Media ‘Bootcamps’ to Moderate Speech

By Corinne Murdock |

Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer worked with the federal government to moderate speech, suggesting in one meeting that they hold “bootcamps” for media outlets to improve election reporting. Richer clarified to AZ Free News that he doesn’t advise or direct the actions of the federal government.

According to documents obtained by Trump’s 2024 campaign attorney Christina Bobb, Richer met with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Cybersecurity Advisory Committee (CSAC) Misinformation & Disinformation (MDM) Subcommittee in March. CISA is an agency of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). 

Richer cited The Gateway Pundit (TGP) reporting on a debunked claim that county election officials held an unannounced meeting as one example of misinformation. 

TGP sued Maricopa County last month, TGP Communications v. Sellers, for denying one of its reporters a press pass. On Monday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the county to issue the press pass while litigation continues. The court asserted that the county likely violated the First Amendment, finding that the county discriminated against TGP for its reporter’s political views.

This reporter asked Maricopa County for comment on the order to issue a press pass. The county responded that it doesn’t comment on ongoing litigation.

AZ Free News asked Richer about this collaboration with CISA, as well as his decision to delete the below tweet amid the ongoing lawsuit. Richer responded that his remarks to CISA weren’t unique from remarks that he’s shared with many other audiences. He added that the documents posted on Twitter summarized the topics he discussed.

“I don’t advise them on anything or direct any of their actions. I think they just wanted the perspective of an election administrator and what I try to do to share accurate voting information,” stated Richer.

As for the tweet, Richer explained that he occasionally deletes posts that he dislikes or believes to be unproductive in hindsight. He added that he doesn’t keep track of the posts he deletes or the reasons why he deleted them.

Richer told the MDM Subcommittee that the federal government and CISA had low credibility in rumor control. He advised that those with the most credibility were local community members, mainstream media, and social media companies like Twitter and Facebook.

Along with the misinformation and disinformation claims, Richer told CISA that some were guilty of “malinformation” by submitting too many public records requests. In its meeting summary, CISA characterized the increase in requests as an “abuse.”

“In 2019, Maricopa County received 30-40 public records requests. In 2021, they received over 350 requests ranging from requests to produce everything related to the 2020 election to all email communications related to elections, to all the rules and processes on how the elections are administered,” stated the report. “This example highlights how individuals can use lawful means to burden a system already stretched thin.”

Those leading the MDM Subcommittee meeting were Megan Tsuyi, designated federal officer for CSAC and MDM Subcommittee; Kate Starbird, a University of Washington professor and MDM Subcommittee chair; and Kim Wyman, CISA senior election security lead.

Others present at the meeting were Vijaya Gadde, the legal, public policy, and trust and safety lead for Twitter; and Suzanne Spalding, senior DHS advisor and director of Defending Democratic Institutions Center for Strategic and International Studies.

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

Maricopa County’s Only ‘Remarkable Effort’ Was to Disenfranchise Voters

Maricopa County’s Only ‘Remarkable Effort’ Was to Disenfranchise Voters

By the Arizona Free Enterprise Club |

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… 


Attorney General Probes Maricopa County For Potential Violation of Election Law

Attorney General Probes Maricopa County For Potential Violation of Election Law

By Corinne Murdock |

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. 

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