The Arizona election in 2022 is still having negative consequences for election security in the Sun Belt state.
The Arizona Attorney General, Kris Mayes, has threatened legal action against Mojave County officials if they dare to hand-count ballots in the 2024 election.
BREAKING: The Arizona Attorney General is threatening Mohave County officials with legal action if they choose to hand count ballots in the 2024 election
"As Arizona's chief law enforcement officer, I have an obligation to warn you that the legal consequences would be serious"… pic.twitter.com/F3q7rwUOvD
— George (@BehizyTweets) November 20, 2023
“As Arizona’s chief law enforcement officer, I have an obligation to warn you that the legal consequences would be serious,” AG Mayes warns.
In the AG’s letter to Mojave County, Mayes purports to be concerned that verifying the accuracy of ballots would ‘undermine Arizona’s democratic process.’
No kidding. This is from the letter:
Re: Counting ballots manually instead of by automatic tabulating equipment Dear Supervisors: I understand that you will be voting tomorrow on whether to direct the Mohave County Elections Department to count the ballots for the 2024 elections by hand, rather than automatic tabulating equipment. Before you take that vote, I want to make sure you know that a “yes” vote would direct your Elections Department to violate the law. As Arizona’s chief law enforcement officer, I have an obligation to warn you that the legal consequences would be serious.
Equally important, I am concerned that this Board has received incorrect legal advice from bad-faith actors who are attempting to sow doubt in Arizona’s elections and ultimately undermine Arizona’s democratic process. Full hand counts are impracticable to perform within the time permitted to certify election results, less accurate than tabulating machines, and more importantly are illegal under Arizona law. The resulting delays, inaccurate results, and illegal procedures from hand counts will then be used to call into doubt valid election results. The Board should not endorse this attack on the democratic process.
The Attorney General is clearly concerned that anyone would verify that the electronic voting machine equipment indeed accurately records the votes of Arizonans.
Arizona law does not allow counties to make a blanket decision to count ballots by hand.
Instead, the relevant statutes repeatedly provide that ballots shall be counted by automatic tabulating equipment. See, e.g., A.R.S. §§ 16-449, 16-468, 16-602, 16-621, 16-622. In particular, section 16-622(A) of the Arizona Revised Statutes provides that “[t]he result printed by the vote tabulating equipment, to which have been added write-in and early votes, shall, when certified by the board of supervisors or other officer in charge, constitute the official canvass of each precinct or election district.” Except when expressly allowed by statute, votes counted by hand do not constitute part of the official canvass. Thus, the proposed measure could end up disenfranchising your constituents.
The officer in charge of elections may direct that ballots “be counted manually” only if “it becomes impracticable to count all or a part of the ballots with tabulating equipment.” A.R.S. § 16-621(C). No evidence supports a general finding that counting ballots with tabulating equipment is impracticable. Rather, as the recent analysis from the Mohave County Elections Department shows, manually counting all ballots would be impracticable in several ways. See Mohave County, Ballot Hand Tally Analysis, https://lfportal.mohavecounty.us/bos/0/doc/2038269/Page1.aspx (explaining that a full manual count may compromise confidentiality, hurt the timeliness and accuracy of results, and significantly increase costs). Outside of a specific scenario in which counting ballots with tabulating equipment is impracticable, the Legislature has not provided counties with authority to count ballots by hand instead of via tabulating equipment, and counties may not independently choose to do so. See State v. Stapley, 227 Ariz. 61, 64–65, ¶ 15 (App. 2011) (“[T]he Board can exercise only those powers specifically granted to it by the legislature.”)
The Elections Procedures Manual similarly makes clear that ballots shall be counted by machine.
Arizona continues to hide behind opaque, private, unelected, and unaccountable voting machine companies to erect a wall between voters and their votes.
The Arizona swing state, it should be added, has featured prominently in controversial elections for several years now.
Prior to becoming governor, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs certified her own election victory over state-wide objections to the way the 2022 election was run.
Cochise County voted to delay certifying the results of the midterm elections in order to more closely inspect the state’s voting machines.
Mayes’ letter also notes, “In 2022, Cochise County engaged in a misguided and illegal effort to do a full hand-count audit of all ballots cast in the 2022 general election. The superior court concluded that this was unlawful. The Court of Appeals agreed.”
In December 2022, following the reported defeat of Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and
.@KariLake Attorney Kurt Olson:
"Is it your testimony that the printer set changes that led to the so-called "shrink to fit" issue was that done on Election Day?"
Maricopa County Elections Director Scott Jarrett:
"That's correct." pic.twitter.com/hDAgiqdXU6
— Kari Lake War Room (@KariLakeWarRoom) December 22, 2022
“Is it your testimony that the printer set changes that led to the so-called ‘shrink to fit’ issue was that done on Election Day?” Kari Lake’s attorney Kurt Olson asked.
“That’s correct,” Scott Jarrett replied.
“Elections director Scott Jarrett confirms that the printer setting change that led to the mass disenfranchisement of Arizona voters DID occur the morning of election day,” the Kari Lake War Room reported.
Also in testimony, election modeling expert Richard Baris said that his projections showed as many as 40,000 voters were disenfranchised over Election Day chaos in Arizona’s Maricopa County. Baris said he would “have no doubt” that she would’ve won the election had there been no issues at polling centers.
Baris testified that 25,000 to 40,000 voters were disenfranchised in the county due to his estimation that roughly one in five vote centers had problems ballot tabulator machines in the first hours of Election Day. That is a difficult number to verify, but it is indisputable that such disruption would tend to suppress the vote to an uncertain degree.
“We’ve got about 20% of the locations out there where there’s an issue with the tabulator,” Maricopa Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates said on election night. Election officials, however, told voters their ballots would still be counted as a result of redundancy protocols.
The vote margin between Lake and Hobbs was 17,117 votes.
As reported by Kari Lake’s War Room, the Arizona election contractor Runbeck played a decisive role in the Maricopa County chaos. Runbeck was also the ballot supply contractor for the dysfunctional Harris County election in 2022, and the Fulton County election in 2020.
“Runbeck employees describe trucks coming in with no corresponding documentation,” KLWR reported. “No chain of custody was kept during this transport. When Runbeck reached out to Maricopa County they said it wasn’t ‘necessary.’ This is the complete breakdown of election law.”
“Remember the participation of Runbeck in this process AT ALL is already in violation of Arizona State statute,” the account added. “Couple that with the fact that ballots were dropped off, counted(?), and taken out with NO documentation.”
During the court hearing, the Maricopa County Recorder Steven Richer admitted that the county doesn’t even adhere to state law requiring a chain of custody for ballots. The county ‘deems’ the right amount at the central tabulation facility.
“Does anybody know when those ballots leaving the voting centers, how many are in the bins?”
This is a MAJOR problem!
Maricopa County Recorder admits chain of custody is totally meaningless, they can magically say how many ballots appear at central tabulation facility pic.twitter.com/WIJr7tS7Zx
— Liz Harrington (@realLizUSA) December 21, 2022
Internal communications between top election officials in Maricopa County in the aftermath of Election Day reveal that they struggled to reconcile a discrepancy of almost 16,000 in outstanding ballot totals, as was reported by Just the News.
“Unable to currently reconcile SOS listing with our estimates from yesterday,” Richer wrote. Maricopa County estimated having 392,000 ballots left to be counted, while the secretary of state’s website said there were 407,664 ballots left.
“So there’s a 15,000 difference somewhere,” Richer said, but the discrepancy cited was closer to 16,000.
In the 2022 race, Republican Abe Hamadeh also “lost” to Democrat Kris Mayes by 511 votes.
Attorney Tim La Sota said that the general election was “afflicted with certain errors and inaccuracies” in how polling places were operated and how ballots were processed and tabulated.
“The cumulative effect of these mistakes is material to the race for Arizona attorney general,” he said.
The Election Day chaos and lack of integrity is actually what is causing people to lose confidence in the election results. Hand-counting paper ballots and signature-matching would go a long way to resolving this crisis of confidence issue. Instead, state officials are resisting oversight and hiding behind private voting machine companies, while attacking any county initiatives to second-check the election results.
This is why Arizona’s elections have become a complete mockery of the democratic process.