A. J. LaFaro, Chairman of the Maricopa County Republican Committee testified at the 2013 hearings before the Arizona State Legislature regarding election reforms that eventually became HB-2305. At the time of its passage, opponents claimed the law would suppress the vote and disenfranchise the mostly Hispanic community.
In February 2014, the Arizona Legislature, caving to pressure from special interests groups, repealed the law.
Fast forward to August of 2014, and it appears as if the fears of those who initially supported the legislation were real; not the delusions or right wing kooks.
According to LaFaro, during the August 26th Primary election cycle, he “worked long hard days, for three weeks straight, with the Maricopa County Elections Department and all the wonderful citizen volunteers.” In his capacity as the official representative for the Republican Party, LaFaro says he participated in every aspect of the election cycle including observing logic and accuracy tests, and the early ballot process. LaFaro acted as a poll watcher and served on the count audit board and signed off on the unofficial final election results that were canvassed by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors.
LaFaro says he worked to “protect our elections and the integrity of the vote.”
On August 25th, LaFaro was working with the Maricopa County Elections Staff observing early ballot processing at their MCTEC facility located at 510 S. Third Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85003. According to LaFaro, “The team processing the early ballots through the optical scanning equipment had gotten way ahead of the “upstream” citizen boards preparing the early ballot batches for processing. The Information Systems Coordinator for Maricopa County Elections decided the team would take an extended lunch break from 11:30am until 1:00pm so I decided to relax and read my Wall Street Journal out in the main foyer area of the MCTEC Facility.”
LaFaro reports that he “was seated at one of the cubicles looking toward the reception area that is now behind bullet proof glass because of the violence and protesting that occurred by militant groups during the November, 2012, General Election.”
LaFaro recounts that between 12:54 p.m. and 1:04 p.m., he heard a loud thud and turned to see what was going on. “A person wearing a Citizens for a Better Arizona (CBA) t-shirt dropped a large box of hundreds of early ballots on the table and started stuffing the ballot box as I watched in amazement.”
While sound is not available on the recording LaFaro has provided the following account:
Person from CBA: “What’s your problem?”
LaFaro: “I don’t have a problem.”
Person from CBA: “Stop watching me. You’re annoying me.”
LaFaro ignored the request and continued observing the male.
LaFaro: “One of your ballots isn’t sealed.”
Person from CBA: “It’s none of your business. What’s your name?”
LaFaro: “I’m the Chairman of the Maricopa County Republican Party. What’s yours?”
Person from CBA: “Go fuck yourself! I don’t have to tell you who I am.”
LaFaro submitted a Public Information Request to Maricopa County Elections on 08/26 requesting the 24/7 security surveillance video tape for 08/25 from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. for the camera in the MCTEC foyer watching the ballot box – camera 9.
After the man was finishing stuffing most of the hundreds of ballots into the box, he is seen taking pictures, which according to LaFaro, were images of ballots “that he staged in the slot of the ballot box. He then hid behind the ballot box and table as he slipped the unsealed ballot into his brief and left.”
On the video, the man can be seen leaving and entering the building. LaFaro believes that the ballot he snuck out of the building was the very same one with which he left. After he dropped the ballot in the box, he said to LaFaro, ‘Go fuck yourself gringo.’
The unpleasant incident did not stop LaFaro. On August 26th, from 6:00 a.m. to 8:20 a.m. LaFaro went to South Tempe and Guadalupe to observe the polling place. “I went to four polling locations – the last one being the main one in Guadalupe. I wanted to watch a Guadalupe polling location because the DOJ said they were going to assign their attorneys to Citizens for a Better Arizona to make sure Sheriff Joe and his deputies didn’t terrorize and disenfranchise the Hispanic voters,” said LaFaro.
LaFaro describes how he entered the Guadalupe polling location and identified himself to the Poll Inspector. LaFaro showed the inspector his my Arizona drivers license. “There were five poll workers sitting around pretty much doing nothing,” says LaFaro. “Three ballots had already been proceed through the machine, one early ballot was in the, secured lock box and one person who did not speak English was filling out a provisional ballot. I watched for about 20 minutes then left. As I was leaving, I stopped and spoke with the Poll Marshall. I asked him why it was so slow and he said that they had a big “ballot party” on Saturday. By the way, I didn’t see one person from the DOJ.”
LaFaro said that he doesn’t know much about the CBA man except that he “was a vulgar, disrespectful, violent thug that has no respect for our laws. I would have followed him to the parking lot to take down his tag number but I feared for my life.”
“I believe it’s inconceivable, unacceptable and should be illegal for groups to collect hundreds, if not thousands, of voter’s ballots and return them to the elections offices or polling locations. And let’s not forget the “ballot parties” that occur where people gather en masse and give their unvoted ballots to operatives of organizations like Citizens for a Better Arizona so they can not only collect them but vote them illegally. America use to be a nation of laws where one person had one vote.” LaFaro concluded, “I’m sad to say not anymore.”