Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect that the party affiliation was on the ballot not the envelope. As a result, party affiliation could be seen through the window of the envelope.
On November 8, 2019, Pima County Republican Party Chairman David Eppihimer filed a complaint with the US Department of Justice in reference to the recent City of Tucson general election. The complaint specifically addressed the “design and construction of the mail-in ballot package.” The basis of the complaint was the inclusion of party affiliation of the voter being prominently displayed through the window of the envelope for all to see.
The Pima County Election Integrity Commission (PCEIC) addressed the issue in an October 20, 2019, letter sent to Pima County Board Supervisor Chairman Richard Elias. The bipartisan commission voted 5-3 to request the Board of Supervisors send a letter of concern to the City of Tucson and recommended election officials investigate the cause of this irregularity.
Former Republican Party observer Karen Schutte penned a letter to Chairman Eppihimer in which she tendered her resignation because she inexplicably expected to be consulted regarding the handling of the election.
In his subsequent response, Chairman Eppihimer graciously thanked Schutte for her service, accepted her resignation and pointed out the flaws in her inflammatory letter.
Eppihimer addressed the tabulation area as one that was not included in the complaint due to Schutte not mentioning any concerns with the process.
On Tuesday, the Republican Party office was inundated with a hurried and steady flow of phone calls on election day from people who claimed to not receive their ballots. Callers were advised to request a replacement ballot at their ward polling location.
On election night, the Udall polling location reported running out of affidavits. This lends credence to many of the calls received that day.
In a December 2016 study, Arizona was ranked “Worst in the country for electoral integrity” according to the electoral integrity project.
Earlier this year, the Pima County Election Integrity Commission penned a white paper to Pima County Recorder regarding election concerns noted during the 2018 mid-term election.
Time will tell if the DOJ takes up the case and investigates the election. In the event it does, Tucson may once again be thrust into the national spotlight.