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Arizona AG says Maricopa apparently violated state election laws

Howard Fischer Capitol Media Services

PHOENIX — Attorney General Mark Brnovich is demanding answers from Maricopa County on what he says appears to be a violation of state election law.

In a letter Saturday, his office said it had received “hundreds of complaints” about the county’s administration of the Nov. 8 general election.

“These complaints go beyond pure speculation, but include first-hand accounts that raise concerns about Maricopa’s legal compliance with Arizona election law,” wrote Jennifer Wright, who leads the unit. integrity of office elections.

“Furthermore, statements made by both (Board of Supervisors) Chairman (Bill) Gates and Recorder (Stephen) Richer, as well as information from Maricopa County released by official channels appear to confirm potential violations of the law of Title 16,” she said. referring to the state election code. Gates and Richer are Republicans, as is Brnovich.

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Wright also hinted that the investigation could delay the finalization of election results.

“These issues relate to Maricopa County’s ability to legally certify election results,” she said. She wants her questions answered by Nov. 28, when the county must submit its official vote poll to the Office Secretary of the State.

The letter comes as Republican Gov. hopeful Kari Lake, whose results already show she lost to Democrat Katie Hobbs, continued to insist that GOP voters have been disenfranchised and that the results of the elections cannot be certified. Lake also said she was consulting with attorneys on her options.

At the same time, the race for the post of attorney general remains far too close to be called, with Democrat Kris Mayes ahead of Republican Abe Hamadeh on Sunday by 850 votes out of more than 2.5 million ballots already counted. Fewer than 3,400 votes remained to be counted, all from Maricopa County.

Wright gave no indication that whatever his office eventually finds or any conclusions reached will alter the outcome of the races.

Fields Moseley, spokesman for county supervisors, said there would be no response until the board reviews the application. There was no immediate response from Richer’s publicist.

Election Day Problems

Most of the issues Wright wants to address relate to Election Day issues at 60 of the county’s voting centers.

The use of voting centers means that any resident can go anywhere. This also means that individual ballot papers, tailored to each voter, must be printed on the spot.

But printers at more than 60 of the polling centers were producing ballots that on-site tabulators could not read.

This issue was discovered less than an hour after the 6am opening. But it took until the afternoon to find out the problem was with the printers fuser, which heats up to bind the toner to the paper, not being set high enough, a problem that didn’t exist in the first polling centers.

The result was that people were told they had two options: go to another polling place or put the ballot in “door 3” of the tabulator to be taken to the central elections office and counted at the end of the day.

This, in turn, caused long queues as people insisted on making multiple attempts to get the tabulator to read their ballots. Many also obeyed an advice from Kelli Ward, who chairs the Arizona Republican Party, not to put their ballots in Gate 3.

Both options created problems

Wright, in his letter, said both options create problems.

She said Gates told people who had previously registered at a polling station using the e-Pollbook, a tablet computer used to register voters. But they had trouble voting that they could “verify” and then vote. Wright said sworn complaints submitted to his agency showed that was not happening.

“Not only did poll workers report that they had not been trained and/or given information on how to perform ‘verification’ procedures, but many voters reported that the second polling place required the voter to vote provisionally as e-Poll records maintained that voters voted at the original polling place,” Wright said. She pointed out that Arizona law specifically prohibits those provisional ballots from being counted if the record shows multiple signatures.

This raises the question of how many of those ballots were not counted. Wright wants a detailed report of all voters who have been affected.

The issues with Gate 3 are different. She said there is evidence the county did not follow legal guidelines to separate, count, tally and transport these ballots.

“In fact, Maricopa County admitted that at some polling places untabulated ballots from Gate 3 were mixed with tabbed ballots at the polling place,” Wright said. “Additionally, we received a sworn complaint from an election observer that over 1,700 untabulated ballots from Gate 3 of a polling place were placed in black duffel bags intended for use. for tabulated ballots.

County officials acknowledged the problem at a press conference. But they said the problem was solved by deleting all the votes already tallied in this voting center, then recounting all the ballots, making sure they were all counted, that they were fed by the tabulator or placed in the door 3.

But Wright wants to know how many ballots were shuffled, how many were put in the black duffle bags, how and when the county became aware of the issues, and how they were ultimately resolved.

The New York Times reported on Saturday that it had reviewed complaints from some Lake supporters that they had trouble on Election Day at Phoenix-area polling places. But the newspaper found that most were able to vote.

No final report on 2020 elections

Meanwhile, Brnovich has yet to release a final report in an ongoing investigation into the county’s handling of the 2020 election.

In an interim report earlier this year, Brnovich said he found instances of people breaking laws that typically prevent someone from handling another person’s early voting. There are exceptions for family members, those in the same household and caregivers.

Several have been prosecuted and convicted.

He also made recommendations for changing state laws and election procedures.

But the attorney general said he found no evidence that the election results were rigged or that Donald Trump won the popular vote.

And in August, Brnovich refuted claims in the “audit” by Cyber ​​Ninjas the company hired Senate Speaker Karen Fann to investigate the 2020 election.

“Our agents have investigated all individuals that the Cyber ​​Ninjas have declared dead,” he said. “Many were very surprised to learn that they had allegedly passed away.”

These findings came just before the GOP primary in which Brnovich was running for the US Senate. He came third. The race was won by Blake Masters, who then lost to incumbent Democrat Mark Kelly.

And just before this year’s general election, Brnovich called Republican claims that the 2020 election was stolen a “**** horse”, telling 60 Minutes he had “tried to scratch if my shoes Last year”.

Joe Biden won all 11 voters in the state by a margin of 10,457 votes.

Brnovich also called Lake’s denial of the results of that election a “big scam.”


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