Majority of Maricopa County Voters Switch to ‘Other’ Party Affiliation

Majority of Maricopa County Voters Switch to ‘Other’ Party Affiliation

By Corinne Murdock |

The latest voter registration report from Maricopa County revealed that over 5,000 voters switched their party affiliation to “other,” the majority of which were registered Democrats previously. “Other” serves as a catch-all for those who register as Independent, No Party Preference, and any parties not recognized as official parties.

Among those who switched to a party considered “other” were over 2,100 Democrats, over 1,700 Republicans, and over 150 Libertarians, with just over 1,000 individuals switching between classifications within the “other” category.

The Maricopa County Recorder’s Office noted that there were over 2.5 million active voters in the county. 34.5 percent of those belonged to an “other” party, 34.2 percent were Republicans, 30.4 percent were Democrats, and .8 percent were Libertarians. 

As of April 1, there were over 21,100 registered voters in Maricopa County who haven’t provided proof of citizenship. The county has retained a similar amount of that kind of voter since October 2020. Prior to October 2019, the number of voters who didn’t provide proof of citizenship totaled just over 9,000 — well under half of the average of current totals.

Total new registrations amounted to just under 14,000: those classified as an “other” party made up over 53 percent of new registrations, while Republicans made up over 25 percent, Democrats made up over 20 percent, and Libertarians made up less than one percent. 

In the month of May, the county recorded over 10,500 party changes. 

Second to the “other” party changes were those switching to the Republican Party: over 3,100 individuals registered as Republican. Over 2,400 made the switch from an “other” party to Republican, while over 600 switched from Democrat to Republican and under 100 switched from Libertarian to Republican.

The Democrats gained over 2,000 voters: over 1,700 switched from an “other” party, over 300 switched from Republican, and less than 50 switched from Libertarian. 

Libertarians had the least gains, numbering just over 160.

These latest voter registration numbers were released just after the Maricopa County Elections Department announced the launch of a new website for voters. The new website will be active next Monday, June 13. 

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

Democrats Pledge to Block Emergency Measure Restoring Precinct Committeemen Elections

Democrats Pledge to Block Emergency Measure Restoring Precinct Committeemen Elections

By Corinne Murdock |

Legislature Democrats expressed that they won’t vote to restore precinct committeemen (PC) elections this year unless Republicans kill a bill requiring proof of citizenship for voter registration, one railbird informed AZ Free News. The passage of that election integrity bill out of committee, HB2492, on Thursday appeared to be a setback for Republicans hoping to correct a mistake made last week with the passage of HB2839.

As AZ Free News reported earlier this week, HB2839 gave a political party’s local county committee the sole authority to determine who gets appointed as PC. The bill intended to alleviate candidates’ qualification deadlines for this year’s primary election under the new redistricting. However, a section that allowed PC candidates to skip signature gathering also allowed local committee members to choose the PC appointments.

Republicans need supermajority in both the House and Senate to pass the emergency measures effectively reversing HB2839 and restoring PC elections for this year, HB2840 and SB17200. PCs are responsible for helping their party by providing aid with voter registration and voter assistance during elections, as well as nominating candidates to fill county or state office vacancies. 

HB2492 sponsor, State Representative Jake Hoffman (R-Queen Creek), sent out an email call-to-action acknowledging the murmurings that Democrats would kill PC restoration following the passage of his bill. 

“Rumors are swirling at the Capitol that the Senate may try to trade HB2492 in exchange for Democrats voting for the PC election repeal so it gets an emergency clause,” wrote Hoffman. “We cannot horse trade with critical election integrity legislation!”

Reportedly, legislators failed to identify HB2839’s consequences for several reasons: some admitted to not reading the bill’s language and trusted their leadership’s take on the bill, while others just misread the bill completely. 

The controversial proof-of-citizenship bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee along party lines, 5-3. Those who showed up to oppose the bill shouted, “Shame!” repeatedly at the committee after they passed the bill.

In response, State Senator Warren Petersen (R-Gilbert) thanked the crowd for making their approval of the bill easier.

“Thank you for showing us who you are,” said Petersen. “You’re making this easy, thank you.”

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

State House Moves Ahead With 2 Voter Registration Bills

State House Moves Ahead With 2 Voter Registration Bills

By Terri Jo Neff |

Two bills designed to tweak Arizona’s voter registration laws had third readings in the House on Tuesday, resulting in party line votes of 31 to 28.

House Bill 2237 stipulates that a department, division, agency, or political subdivision of Arizona—or any person acting on behalf of one—may not register a person to vote on an election day and then deem that person eligible to vote in the same election. Doing so would be a Class 6 felony which carries a presumptive one-year prison sentence.

Under current law, someone seeking to register to vote must meet several criteria, such as being U.S. resident, being a resident of Arizona for 29 days before the election, and being at least 18 years of ago on or before the next election following registration.

There is also a deadline in Arizona for registering to vote – 29 days before the election.

However, some people are allowed to cast a provisional ballot on Election Day. The provisional ballot includes information for registering the person to vote going forward if it is determined the person is not already registered.

Rep. Jake Hoffman (R-LD12) introduced by HB2237 to ensure the information included with the provisional ballot is not used to register the voter until after election day. Otherwise, Arizona’s 29-day registration deadline could be circumvented.

A second bill introduced by Hoffman, HB2243 would add a simple advisory statement to all new voter registration forms. The advisory informs the person registering to vote that if they permanently move to another state after being registered in Arizona, then their Arizona voter registration will be cancelled.

Supporters of HB2243 say it will help keep Arizona’s voter database up-to-date. In addition, it would reduce the opportunity for fraud if the moved voter was on the early balloting list or lives in a community with vote-by-mail elections.

Hoffman had 11 co-sponsors on each of the two bills.

Over 11,600 *No-Proof-Of-Citizenship-Required* Federal Ballots Cast in 2020 Election

Over 11,600 *No-Proof-Of-Citizenship-Required* Federal Ballots Cast in 2020 Election

By Corinne Murdock |

Contrary to popular belief, proof of citizenship isn’t necessarily required for Arizona voters in federal elections. An individual may choose to be a “federal-only” voter, which is what over 11,600 people did in Arizona during the 2020 election – nearly 1,150 more votes than what President Joe Biden received to win the state. Federal-only voters may later provide their proof of citizenship to vote in state, county, and local elections as well – but they never have to for federal elections.

A majority of those 11,600 federal-only votes came from Maricopa County: over 8,100 total. Nearly 4,500 of those votes were from standard federal-only voters. The remaining 3,630 came from Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) federal-only voters. UOCAVA voters have proven citizenship but may only cast federal-only ballots because of their indefinite overseas status.

The next-largest total came from Pima County with just under 2,000 federal-only votes. Their public report didn’t distinguish the standard and UOCAVA voters.

We were unable to obtain federal-only vote totals from Pinal County by press time.

Yavapai County had nearly 260 federal-only votes – no distinction was made between standard and UOCAVA voters on their public report. Yuma County had 169 federal-only ballots cast. Coconino County informed AZ Free News that it had nearly 930 federal-only votes: over 330 standard, and over 590 UOCAVA votes.

We were also unable to obtain the totals for federal-only ballots cast in the following counties by press time: Mohave, Cochise, Navajo, Apache, Gila, and Graham.

Santa Cruz County had 20 federal-only ballots cast. La Paz County had 11 federal-only votes. Greenlee County had a total of 4 federal-only votes.

For the 2018 midterm elections, the secretary of state’s office reported that only about 1,700 people cast federal-only ballots.

Prior to 2018, counties weren’t required to make the number of federal-only votes cast public. While she was still a representative, State Senator Kelly Townsend (R-Mesa) changed that by introducing and passing A.R.S. §16‐161(B).

Despite this law, AZ Free News had to reach out to some of the counties to learn how many federal-only ballots were cast there in the election. Not all of the counties are publishing the total number of federal-only registered voters and ballots cast per state law.

Townsend told AZ Free News that she introduced A.R.S. §16-161(B) when she encountered some pushback from Maricopa County over receiving the numbers of registered federal-only voters. They wanted Townsend to file an open records request (also called a Freedom of Information Act [FOIA] request). This frustrated Townsend, but she respected their request.

“What’s the effort of trying to obscure this? You’re causing me to believe there’s something nefarious going on because I had to do all these backflips to try to get these numbers,” said Townsend.

Even after Townsend complied, she told AZ Free News that the numbers didn’t add up. Townsend took the next logical step. She introduced a bill requiring all counties to make the number of federal-only ballots cast publicly available.

As of last year, there were around 36,000 people registered as federal-only voters in Arizona.

The number of federal-only voters hasn’t always been this large. In fact, it was 26 to 36 times smaller in 2017. Townsend said that only around 1,100 people were registered as federal-only voters back then. This concurs with the reports that around 1,700 people cast federal-only ballots in 2018.

According to Townsend, the federal-only option is tantamount to an honor system.

“It begs the question: if there are 36,000 people in the state of Arizona that can’t prove they exist – through birth certificates, social security numbers, [etc] – what’s wrong with our vital statistics department? I have a hard time believing that our vital statistics department can’t get 36,000 Americans their birth certificates. What’s wrong with the Social Security Department that there are 36,000 people that can’t have their identity verified?” asked Townsend. “I think the bigger argument is why are we so inept. If they’re an American, they deserve to be able to vote an entire ballot. What are we doing wrong that we can’t get them to vote on an entire ballot?”

Townsend explained further that once an individual registers as a federal-only voter, they can elect to be on the mail-in ballot system. She says that she will be introducing legislation next year to tighten up the identification requirements for federal-only voters, such as requiring a government-issued form of identification rather than allowing merely any document displaying a name and address.

“We can at least change the ID to make sure it’s not just a bank statement,” asserted Townsend. “Otherwise, it’s going to take an act of Congress to change it.”

11,700 voters is a lot – especially considering Biden’s margin of victory. However, these ballots weren’t included in the scope of the ongoing audit. Townsend confirmed that she’d asked “multiple times” for the voters behind those ballots to be examined – but her requests were reportedly ignored.

State Representative John Kavanagh (R-Fountain Hills) also tweeted this information after one of his constituents emailed him to ask.

“A constituent emailed asking me how many federal election only ballots were cast in AZ. These are ballots cast by people who could not prove citizenship,” wrote Kavanagh. “There were 11,604 federal only ballots cast. Biden won the election by 10,457. Makes you wonder.”

Kavanagh explained to AZ Free News that his legislative staff had called upon the secretary of state’s office to determine how many federal-only ballots were cast. The secretary of state’s office didn’t have that information readily available, and had to collect data from each county to determine the total number of federal-only ballots cast.

“I was shocked to discover that there were more federal-only ballots cast than the federal margin of victory,” said Kavanagh. “It could’ve affected the election.”

Like Townsend, Kavanagh said he is preparing to strengthen the verification procedures for federal-only voters.

“I’m investigating the procedures for checking somebody’s citizenship. I presume it would be done easily[.] If we can check people based on their name and address – we can actually go back and check how many of those people were actually citizens,” said Kavanagh. “We can’t prevent federal ballots, but we can let them know that if they’re lying we can come after them and prosecute them.”

From Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs’s office:

A person is not required to submit proof of citizenship with the voter registration form, but failure to do so means the person will only be eligible to vote in federal elections (known as being a “federal only” voter). A “federal only” voter will become eligible to vote a “full ballot” in all federal, state, county and local elections if he or she later provides valid proof of citizenship to the appropriate County Recorder’s office.

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

Maricopa County Officials Remain Mum About Cyberattack On Voter Data Files 8 Months Ago

Maricopa County Officials Remain Mum About Cyberattack On Voter Data Files 8 Months Ago

By Terri Jo Neff |

Articles published by some media outlets this week that top Arizona officials knew of a cyberattack of Maricopa County’s voter registration files last fall but have kept it hidden are incorrect, as shown by the level of news coverage the hack received in December and January.

Part of the problem, however, is Maricopa County officials did not respond to the cyberattack in a proactive manner when it was discovered during the 2020 General Election. There was no press conference nor even a press release advising the community that voter registration data had been hacked.

The dearth of updates has not helped instill voter confidence in the months since then if social media comments are representative of community mood. And a letter Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer has sent to some voters is not helping, as it contains an inaccurate claim about how county officials responded to the cyberattack.

News of the cyberattack was first announced in early December in a Forbes article which revealed FBI agents armed with a federal search warrant raided a Fountain Hills condominium on Nov. 5, 2020, two days after the General Election. The agents went to the residence of Ellen and Elliot Kerwin looking for evidence of the cyberattack, according to court records.

The search resulted in the seizure of several computers from the Kerwin home, along with eight hard drives, and a bunch of electronic accessories.

Megan Gilbertson, a Maricopa County spokeswoman, confirmed the cyberattack to Forbes for its Dec. 4 article and she has insisted that the only voter data the hacker or hackers accessed from Oct. 21 to Nov. 4 was information about voters which is already public by law.

“Analysis by the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office IT Security indicates an unauthorized individual gathered publicly accessible voter information from our website,” Gilbertson said. “Additional security controls were put in place to mitigate against this activity occurring in the future.”

But what Gilbertson failed to say is how someone was able to access the county’s voter registration files and whether the hacker tried to get into other county databases. Other Maricopa County officials have appeared to try to divert attention away from the cyber incursion or to minimize the impact, often stating there were “no problems” with the election.

Steve Chucri of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors announced just hours before the Forbes article was published that he was considering asking for a third-party audit of the county’s Dominion Voting System machines, even as the canvas was still pending in the nation’s fourth populous county.

Then after Stephen Richer was sworn in as the county’s new recorder in January he sent a notice to some voters addressing the hack. The notice tells “Dear Voter” that the county’s IT Security Department “immediately identified the attack and successfully took steps to stop the activity.”

However, it is apparent from FBI documents that the IT department did not “immediately” stop the breach, as the attack occurred over 15 days.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Justice told AZ Free News in May the agency cannot comment about the cyberattack as it is part of an ongoing investigation. But voters seem to be growing impatient with the lack of accurate and timely information more than eight months after the hack.

Among the questions left unanswered is whether the cyberattack was undertaken simply to see if it could be done, or was it intended to cast doubt about the election? Also, was the hack possible due to lax county protocols or possibly even by the unintentional actions of a county employee?

More importantly, is Maricopa County’s reticence connected in any way to the board of supervisors’ refusal to comply with a Senate subpoena for access to the election department’s internet routers?

The most critical question, however, is when will county officials come clean with a complete explanation of how someone hacked the voter records of a major government body.

RELATED ARTICLES:

Who Hacked Into Maricopa County’s Voter Files And What Data Did They Get?

Chucri Offers Support For 3rd Party Audit Of Dominion Machines Day Before Voter Info Theft News Broke