Maricopa County Recorder Complains That Following Signature Verification Law Will Require More Work

Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer

Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer is upset that the court pointed out that signature verification procedures set forth by Katie Hobbs in 2019 when she was secretary of state don’t match the law. Richer alleges that will mean more work.

Richer took to the press to unburden his woes. The county recorder, beset by an unrelenting public scrutiny of election procedures that he translates into constant threats to democracy, told ABC 15 that his office would have to take the extra pains to follow the letter of the law.

“If I had to guess I would say it would result in a lot more curing, meaning we would need to contact the voters and say, hey, your signature doesn’t look like the now only one signature that we have on file for you, that might be from forty of fifty years ago,” Richer said.

The additional responsibility for county recorders became clear after Yavapai County Superior Court Judge John Napper declared in ruling last week that the 2019 Election Procedures Manual (EPM) by Hobbs “create[d] a process that contradicts” the law. That ruling rejected Secretary of State Adrian Fontes’ motion to dismiss an Arizona Free Enterprise Club lawsuit alleging that Fontes’ interpretation and enforcement of signature verification law, which aligned with that of Hobbs, did not match the actual statute’s language.

In response to Napper’s ruling, the press raised alarm among voters in its coverage featuring Richer. Arizonans were warned their early vote may not count because election officials would be required to verify signatures using registration records only, versus signatures from other documents or past ballots. Echoing Richer, their reporting speculated signatures could be rejected en masse due to the signature on file being an older variation, or warped by MVD digitization.

That means for two major elections, an unlawful signature verification process was enforced. Napper reminded Secretary of State Adrian Fontes that he has a “non-discretionary duty” to properly instruct county recorders on lawful vote tabulation.

“[Hobbs’ 2019 EPM] contains an incorrect definition of registration record as does advice from the Secretary of State as alleged in the Complaint. This incorrect definition and instruction currently carry the weight of the law,” said Napper. “As long as the 2019 EPM remains in effect, there is an active and actual controversy between adversaries.”

Much like his predecessor and party peer, Fontes contended that the term “registration record” could mean whatever he wanted it to mean. According to Napper’s rejection of Fontes’ motion to dismiss, Fontes told the court that he wanted “registration record” to mean “all sorts of signed documents in the voter’s history even if they have nothing to do with the act of registering.”

This aversion to the strict adherence of the law presents a paradox: under Fontes’ desired meaning of the term “registration record,” which Richer wants to uphold, election officials would, theoretically, need to take the time to carefully review all signatures ever provided by a voter. If that were to be done, that would take more time and effort than comparing signatures existing within a voter’s registration document(s).

Application of the Hobbs EPM signature verification process has resulted in inconsistent outcomes over the years.

While signature rejection rates skyrocketed under Richer using the Hobbs EPM in Maricopa County, they hardly moved under Fontes. Both resulted in scrutiny, with former Attorney General Mark Brnovich declaring that Fontes was less diligent in application of signature review, and that the entire signature verification system was “insufficient to guard against abuse.”

About ADI Staff Reporter 17755 Articles
Under the leadership of Editor-in -Chief Huey Freeman, our team of staff reporters bring accurate,timely, and complete news coverage.


  1. If they follow the law it’s harder to cheat with mail in ballots.

    They aren’t even verifying signatures, much less with 2 party witnesses.

  2. In person voting except for those who must vote absentee (the way it was before the pandemic that they used to make this process less veracious).

  3. Go back to in person voting with ID that has signature and picture for verification. Paper ballots with no computers or voting machines. Have to vote at the assigned polling location only. Absentee voting must be renewed every year with proof of why. Elderly or disabled mail voting may be approved annually with note from doctor. My 2 cents. If we don’t do something, our Country will be lost.

    • Thank you all for sharing your opinions…

      Going backwards because lies were told hardly seems prudent.

      The elections survived the actual attempted theives.

      Convict and punish the real criminals.

      Nothing was stolen.

      I prefer getting my ballot in the mail and dropping it off inside a polling place.

      I am not sorry or willing to change my ways because you were gullible and listened to lars.

  4. Richer, do your job. That’s why we taxpayers pay you the big bucks. Or resign if you don’t want to earn your paycheck. Not following the law is not an option.

  5. No more mail in ballots. Period. If you’re unable to make it to the polls on election DAY, request an absentee ballot. Paper ballots and voter ID at the polling place in your precinct.

    • Yep, show your ID and vote at the polls on election day. Exceptions should include overseas service members and perhaps a few others. Ballots mailed out weeks before election day ARE convenient. TOO convenient.

    • The problem with that, which we saw in the last election, is Hobbs made sure that machines in polling locations broke down on Election Day making it impossible to vote for many people. The only answer I have would be to go back to paper voting in person and get rid of all voting machines. 🤷🏼‍♀️

  6. Richer, if you don’t like having to follow the law then resign! Otherwise, shut up and do your damn job without the tantrums!

  7. If making it hard to cheat on mail in ballots would be so hard to do, then it’s pretty obvious we should’t have so much mail in voting.

  8. I like the convenience of mail in voting. If I have to show up in person with photo ID at a Recorder’s office every four years to submit a new signature I’d be fine with it. I also like trustworthy elections.

  9. simple solution,every 2 years or every election the signature gets verified and update the recorders file,signature on file will never be over 2-4 years old,quit crying about working and just do your job,i am sick of hearing maricopa county trying to dodge the laws passed by the state,that county should not be allowed to remain larger than the rest of the state in whole,that was a huge mistake that needs corrected

  10. The entire voting system is set up for fraud. I have a common signature that I make sure I use when I vote and when I write checks. For less important functions, I am less diligent. I had no idea that any signature at all would suffice – but that is obviously the case. Considering that in both the 2020 and 2022 elections, the voting rolls listed several people, sometimes as many as 10, at one home incorrectly, obviously a person could simply sign them all – knowing that they would not be properly checked. Back in 2014 when Helen Purcell was County Recorder and I was running for election, I used copies of the official voting rolls as I walked from one house to the next every morning for about 2 months. Not once did I run into a single error. The voting rolls fit exactly to the residents living there. Oh for the good old days of Helen Purcell! We should give her a medal for doing what the two guys succeeding her could not or would not do. What a couple of good-for-nothings!

  11. Unfortunately Arizonan’s rejected photo ID at the polls and rejected verification of drivers license number or SSN on their mail in ballot. Arizona is an embarrassment because we are allowed to turn in early ballots on election day that have to have signatures verified leading to very late tallies of votes.

    • oh woo is me, how was the elections held and votes tabulaed in the old days of say 50 years ago? Yes you had to go to the poll and VOTE. Voting is like everything else anymore, too lazy to shop just call whatever outfit be it walmart, frys safeway and have them do it for you then have them deliver! Same thing, sit on your butt and then whine because there are no instantaneous outcomes presented. The politicians like being able to do as they please so they dont have to EARN their pay and we as the employers just sit back and say its OK do what you want. The results are in, the hobbit was anointed as was the sec of state, they were not in my estimation elected and the proof is just now coming out and the whining and crying is starting.

    • You do need ID to vote in person, many years ago now, AZ passed a citizen requirement for registering which was swiftly challenged in court. Now we have Federal Only ballots that voters with NO citizenship proof can still use to vote on Federal elections.

      What to bring to the Polls

      When you arrive to vote at the polls on Election Day you will announce your name and place of residence to the election official and present one form of identification from List #1 or two different forms of identification from List #2 or 3. (A.R.S. § 16-579(A)).

      Valid identification is also required prior to receiving a ballot at any in-person early voting location or emergency vote center or from a special election board. (A.R.S. § 16-542; § 16-549)

      • In 2018 Fontes and the “democrat” party were putting out flyers and door hangers uncertain areas stating you don’t need an ID to vote early.

Comments are closed.