The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting on Wednesday included over an hour of public comment on Election Day issues. The majority of the public who spoke expressed frustration over the county’s handling of the election. BOS Chairman Bill Gates asked the crowd repeatedly not to clap, cheer, or issue commentary.
The main takeaway from several commenters and the BOS was that voters dissatisfied with current election processes needed to petition their legislators to change election law.
Several individuals thanked the BOS for their handling of the election. Among them was Ann Wallach, former Maricopa County Democratic Party Chair. Wallach said she doesn’t believe widespread voting suppression or election fraud are occurring. Wallach suggested that those dissatisfied with elections processes petition their legislators. Wallach said that mail-in voting doesn’t increase fraud, prompting angry cries from the audience.
“If there are people that are unhappy with our present system, I suggest that they take a look at the legislature and see if there’s action taken there that they don’t like,” said Wallach. “We’re all Americans and I think we all want to win fair and square.”
Several poll workers questioned election processes. One poll worker said the election needs to be nullified because of all the problems she witnessed. Another poll worker claimed that her location had 200 more ballots than voters that had checked in, located in Box 3 storage — where Election Day voters dropped ballots the tabulators failed to read. That same poll worker also claimed that the 17,000 voters affected by Election Day tabulation failures was a low estimate.
Another citizen expressed concern about the impartiality of the county officials, considering that Gates and Recorder Stephen Richer supported a PAC to defeat Trump-backed candidates.
“It’s not just a conflict of interest, it’s a specific agenda and a pre-bias going into it, so at the very least you should’ve recused yourself from any part of this election having opened that in 2021,” stated the woman.
Multiple citizens also expressed frustration with how they felt the officials brushed off the Election Day issues.
Martín Quezada, who lost in the treasurer’s race to Republican incumbent Kimberly Yee, thanked the BOS for their administration of last week’s election.
One voter proposed that the county have a runoff to provide a remedy for those who were prevented from voting due to mass tabulator failures and delays. He also questioned why Gates promised 99 percent of votes would be counted by last Friday, then announced on Thursday that the goalposts had shifted.
BOS Supervisor Steve Gallardo defended the county’s handling of the election, commending the workers. Gallardo added that the voters expressed valid concerns but indicated that these weren’t pervasive. However, he said nullification of an election has no legal pathway under current law.
“Our election system is safe, secure, and accurate,” stated Gallardo.
BOS Supervisor Thomas Galvin thanked the poll workers for sharing issues they’d experienced. Galvin said that the state legislature had been “sitting on their butt” when it comes to establishing election law, hence why it takes so long to count the votes.
“We’re all very disappointed in what happened and we want to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” said Galvin.
Vice Chairman Clint Hickman added that Arizona couldn’t count more quickly like Florida because this state’s laws are different. Hickman told the citizens he was grateful that they behaved better than some anticipated.
“There were certain people and groups that want us to believe that you will come and act up and be ungracious and unhumble. That is pathetic, but we were girded for that,” said Hickman. “I want to thank you guys for coming here and speaking your voice.”
Gates said that their conduction of elections only took 8 days rather than the historical average of 12 days. Gates said he was disappointed that the audience kept interrupting him.
“It’s important people know the facts,” said Gates.
Gates promised they would publish a canvass of the votes soon.
Voters may be asked to approve the requirement of ID for early ballots, according to the Arizona legislature’s approval of a proposed constitutional amendment, SCR1012. The resolution, sponsored by State Senator J.D. Mesnard (R-Chandler) and now headed to Governor Doug Ducey for approval, passed 31-26 along party lines in the House on Monday and 16-12 in the Senate last Thursday.
SCR1012 would require voters to sign an affidavit including their date of birth and their early voter ID number: either their driver’s license number, their nonoperating ID license number, the last four digits of their social security number, or their unique identifying number. For security purposes, the legislation clarified that concealment measures must be undertaken when delivering or mailing the ballots. If a voter can’t mark the ballot themselves, they must include their assistant’s phone number and relationship to them.
Election workers must ensure that this additional information is present and accurate. Inability to confirm the information would first require election workers to contact the voter before disqualifying the ballot.
Additionally, on-site early voting locations must require voters to present their ID before receiving a ballot. The legislation prohibits the state from charging for nonoperating ID licenses required for registering to vote or voting.
The legislation would apply no earlier than the next primary elections in 2024.
During last week’s vote on the bill, Senate Democrats argued that the bill would cause severe lags and disruptions at best and outright voter suppression at worst. Senate Republicans responded that signatures alone weren’t a sufficient identifying measure.
State Senator Martín Quezada (D-Quezada) noted how after a similar bill was enacted in Texas, a rate of 40 percent of ballots were rejected in the largest county, Harris County, to the tune of thousands of ballots. Quezada said that the potential rejection rates were too great to pass the bill. He argued that it would be “suppressing the vote.”
In response, State Senator Kelly Townsend (R-Mesa) rebutted that signatures alone weren’t enough. She declared that about 90 percent of signatures from the 2020 election were obvious mismatches, along with 39 percent of those being probable mismatches. Townsend raised the greater concern of accountability for the election workers who decided to approve those ballots with mismatched signatures, questioning whether they would also rubber stamp ballots with missing, unmatched, or incorrect ID numbers or birth dates.
“Why are we wasting our time on this? What’s the point? May the best cheaters win. You know? Because no one’s going to hold you accountable. So maybe that ought to be the new narrative: whoever can outplay the system the best is the one who wins the election,” said Townsend. “You guys say ‘voter suppression’; we need cheating suppression.”
State Senator Sean Bowie (D-Chandler) argued the bill was unnecessary. He said that over 80 percent of his district’s voters vote by mail. Bowie said that people weren’t capable of adapting to the changes of additional requirements on their ballot.
State Senator Vince Leach (R-Tucson) pointed out how Democrats weren’t insulted at the idea of IDs for other parts of public life, including traveling, but expressed displeasure concerning elections.
“It’s beyond the pale that when it comes to a ballot box that, all of a sudden, everything goes out the window of everyday life. The world is changing because of one small card the size of a credit card. It’s unbelievable,” said Leach.
Democratic voters don’t approve of Senator Kyrsten Sinema as of late, according to a poll conducted earlier this month by OH Predictive Insights (OHPI). A total of 47 percent of Democratic voters reported an unfavorable view of Sinema. Only 42 percent of Democrats liked Sinema. The same poll found that 84 percent of Democrat voters hold a very favorable view of President Joe Biden, despite his low approval ratings nationwide hovering between the mid 30s and the low 40s.
Democratic voters responded to hypothetical alternatives with an overwhelming preference for Democrats other than Sinema. 72 percent indicated that they would prefer a Democrat other than Sinema, if given the choice. 47 percent said they would support either Congressman Ruben Gallego (R-AZ-07) or Greg Stanton (R-AZ-09) over Sinema, while only 24 and 25 percent said they would support Sinema, respectively. If Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman were to toss her hat in the ring, 42 percent of Democrats indicated that they’d prefer Hoffman while only 24 percent would prefer Sinema.
OHPI Chief of Research Mike Noble said that though Sinema isn’t up for re-election until 2024, these numbers still don’t bode.
“Sinema’s growing unpopularity with voters from within her own party could prove fatal in 2024 when she will have to ask for Democrats’ support for re-nomination,” said Noble. “While there is still time between now and then, Sinema has ground to make up with her constituents in the next three years.”
These poll numbers come after multiple incidents in which constituents tracked down and harassed Sinema for her work at the Capitol. Early last month, activists filmed Sinema as they followed her into an Arizona State University (ASU) bathroom to demand answers for her delay in voting for the reconciliation bill. Sinema had been teaching her regular class when the activists came to protest.
Sinema rebuked the activists for the disruption, asserting that it wasn’t a legitimate protest. ASU Police Department later recommended that four individuals involved be charged with misdemeanors.
Then at the end of the month, activists disrupted a wedding in Bisbee, Arizona where Sinema was in attendance. One of the protestors filmed the bride coming out of a building, where she thanked protestors for “ruining her wedding” – to which one protestor responded, “You know what? She’s ruining our lives.”
The individual who filmed the interaction also interacted with the bride.
“It’s just my wedding…” said the bride.
“I know,” responded the camerawoman.
“Well, I really wish I could enjoy my wedding without you ruining it,” said the bride.
“I know you do,” repeated the camerawoman.
Later, the mother of the bride appeared, crying, and pleaded with the protestors to move their protest “just for an hour.” The protestors demanded that the mother confront Sinema and “throw her out” out of the wedding.
In an interview with ABC 15 last week, Sinema said she appreciated feedback from constituents.
“I appreciate when folks are willing to tell me they agree with me or they disagree with me. If they want to protest, if they want to offer thanks, all of that is welcome—that’s how I hear feedback from folks in Arizona. And I’m grateful for that feedback,” said Sinema. “I’ll also say that I’ll get up every single day and do what I’ve always done, which is just put Arizona first, put my head down, not get distracted by the noise, and just deliver the results. So I guess my message to folks would be keep telling me what you think. I appreciate it.”