On Saturday, the Elections Integrity Unit of the Arizona Attorney General’s Office demanded a response from Maricopa County “pertaining to issues related to the administration of the 2022 General Election in Maricopa County.”
The demand follows “statements made by both Chairman Gates and Recorder Richer, along with information Maricopa County released through official modes of communication appear to confirm potential statutory violations of Title 16,” according to Arizona Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Wright.
Gates admitted on Twitter that over 6 percent of Election Day ballots were impacted by printer issues but denied that the failure resulted in voter suppression.
“I hate that this happened…but that does not constitute voter suppression. We know what voter suppression looks like in this country,” said Gates in a video message shared on Twitter.
Gates was referring to the approximately 17,000 ballots that were unable to be counted on Election Day, as well as the unknown but substantial number of voters who gave up on the process and left without casting a ballot.
Normally, Election Day ballots are counted as they are cast, and reported in the hours shortly after the polls close, however, these 17,000 ballots were not counted due to the fact that the tabulators at polling sites could not read them. Voters with the problematic ballots were told they could go to another polling site or they were forced to place their ballot in a separate box on the tabulators on the promise that they would eventually be counted, but that count was delayed for days for reasons still unknown to the general public.
“The Elections Integrity Unit (“Unit”) of the Arizona Attorney General’s Office (“AGO”) has received hundreds of complaints since Election Day pertaining to issues related to the administration of the 2022 General Election in Maricopa County,” Wright advised in her letter. “These complaints go beyond pure speculation but include first-hand witness accounts that raise concerns regarding Maricopa’s lawful compliance with Arizona election law.”
According to Wright at least 60 polling locations’ ballot on-demand (BOD) printers were configured improperly, leading to the inability of the tabulators to read the ballots and leaving an untold number of voters disenfranchised. In a video message posted on Twitter on Sunday, Gates admitted there were 70 polling locations involved.
“Based on sworn complaints submitted by election workers employed by Maricopa County, the BOD printers were tested on Monday, November 7 without any apparent problems,” Wright wrote. As a result, she has requested that the County turn over logs related to when printer configuration changes were made. Specifically, she requested, “standards for the BOD printer configuration settings” and “the precise time the non-uniform printer configuration settings were found to be the root cause of the problem; and the method used to update or reconfigure the printer configuration”
“Following widespread reports of problems at voting locations on Election Day, Chairman Gates publicly stated that voters who had already checked in to e-Pollbook but were having difficulties voting could ‘check out’ of that voting location and would be able to nonetheless vote in another voting location,” she wrote.
“Based on sworn complaints received by the Unit, not only have poll workers reported that they were not trained and/or not provided with information on how to execute ‘check out’ procedures, but many voters have reported the second voting location required the voter to cast a provisional ballot as the e-Pollbooks maintained the voter had cast a ballot in the original voting location,” she added.
Thus, Wright is seeking information related to the instructions poll workers gave to voters who experienced problems with their ballots being accepted by tabulation machines.
Wright also advised the County that state law was also apparently violated when poll workers failed to keep ballots that were successfully tabulated on site segregated from those that were not.
“Maricopa County has admitted that[,] in some voting locations, ‘Door 3’ non-tabulated ballots were commingled with tabulated ballots at the voting location,” stated Wright. “Further, we have received a sworn complaint from an election observer indicating that more than 1700 ‘Door 3’ non-tabulated ballots from one voting location were placed in black duffle bags that were intended to be used for tabulated ballots.”
“Pursuant to Arizona law, Maricopa County was required to complete ‘reconciliation of ballots cast against check ins’ at the voting locations before leaving the voting location, not at central count,” wrote Wright who requested a copy of each voting location’s Official Ballot Report, along with the total number of ballots that were co-mingled.
Wright concluded that, because the issues she outlines “relate to Maricopa County’s ability to lawfully certify election results – the Unit requests a response to the aforementioned issues on or before Maricopa County submits its official canvass to the SoS, which must occur on or before November 28, 2022.”
An official canvas by the counties is due to Arizona’s Secretary of State office on November 28.
A recount is expected in the Arizona Attorney General’s race due to the narrow margin between Democrat Kris Mayes and Republican Abe Hamadeh.