Arizona Election Officials Are Being Alerted To Another EZ Voter System Failure

voter registration

The Arizona Secretary of State’s Office is once again warning county recorders that voters may be disenfranchised as the result of a reoccurring issue with the state-wide voter registration system.

The Arizona Secretary of State’s office notified county recorders of the issue in an email marked “Critical: Please Verify EZ Voter Party Preferences,” dated January 18:

Hello Counties,

We are currently investigating an issue where EZ Voter transactions party preferences as of 1/17/2024 are now containing the word “Party” at the end of the party preference value. As a result, the current AVID system may set an EZ Voter party preference to “Other” by default instead of one of the designated party preferences. This is currently impacting all recognized party preference values.

Please, as you action VR Updates make sure your team verifies the correct voter party preference is selected until AVID is updated to account for this unexpected change. For example, when processing an EZ Voter registration the party may be marked as “Other” and “Republican Party” is written in. This example record would need to have the party preference marked as “Republican”.

Our team will follow up with any records that we feel your county should verify. We will provide further updates as they become available. Thank you for your understanding and vigilance.

Governor Katie Hobbs’ Elections Task Force’s final report issued in November 2023, which critics described as a “confession,” addressed the systemic failures of the EZ Voter system.

Those failures were brought into sharp focus as a result of the narrow vote split between Kris Mayes and Abe Hamadeh in the 2022 Arizona Attorney General’s race.

Hamadeh was found during a statewide recount announced Dec. 29 to have fallen short of Mayes by 280 votes out of more than 2.5 million ballots.

While Hamadeh’s attorneys prepared for his election challenge, they discovered a number of issues that disenfranchised certain voters, among those were Arizona residents who were forced to cast provisional ballots through no fault of their own, but through failures in Arizona’s dysfunctional voter registration system.

As previously reported by the Arizona Daily Independent, one disabled war veteran was forced by Maricopa County elections officials to vote a provisional ballot that was rejected in the 2022 General Election after he was unknowingly registered to vote in another county.

The voter, who Arizona Daily Independent identified as “Howard,” cast ballots from the same address in Maricopa County during the 2018 and 2020 elections. But when Howard tried to vote in November 2022, he was told he was no longer registered in the county.

Howard’s registration was cancelled by Maricopa County rather than being made inactive, and his ballot was rejected even after he offered proof of his Maricopa County residency on election day.

At the time, Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer asserted his system did “what it’s supposed to do” by cancelling Howard’s registration in 2021 because he had purportedly registered to vote in another county.

Richer’s office claimed that Howard’s registration “was canceled because he submitted a new registration form to Navajo County,” but a review of public records shows that was not the case.

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As previously reported:

“Records suggest a disputed process approved in 2020 by then-Arizona Secretary of State Hobbs involving ADOT’s Motor Vehicle Department and the Service Arizona website actually led Howard’s vote not counting.

In September 2021, Howard went to an ADOT – MVD Office in Navajo County while spending the summer at a secondary residence. He needed to obtain a State Identification Card after being forced to give up driving due to medical issues.

Unknown to Howard, his request for the state ID card triggered ADOT’s Service Arizona portal to create and submit a voter registration form registering him to vote in Navajo County. The signature displayed on the form was “pulled” or copied from the data file used to order Howard’s state ID card.

The system-generated form was reported to the Navajo County Recorder’s Office. This then caused the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office to cancel Howard’s right to vote there based on the “new” registration.

But no notice was sent to Howard at the time by either county recorder. It was not until May 2022 that Howard learned that the system had registered him to vote in Navajo County, thanks to a letter Recorder Michael Sample sent all voters with information on the upcoming 2022 election cycle.

Howard immediately notified Sample in writing that his official residence was still in Maricopa County. Sample’s office quickly cancelled Howard’s voter registration and confirmed the action by sending Howard a letter to his Maricopa County address.

At that point, Howard had no reason to believe the Navajo County registration was anything more than a simple clerical error. After all, he had received no notice from Maricopa County of being dropped in 2021.

Richer’s office explained that Howard fell victim to a problem with that statewide voter registration system.

“This was the result of an EZ voter registration form that was submitted through ServiceArizona,” said Sierra Ciaramella, a senior advisor to Richer. “This came to us from the statewide voter registration system when Navajo County processed his new voter registration form. This is a function of the statewide system to ensure voters are not registered in multiple counties.”

At the time, there was no procedural safeguard in state law to protect similar voters.

Mistakes and unintended new voter registration forms being generated by Service Arizona is believed far more widespread than previously thought, with untold numbers of voters left disenfranchised.

In too many of those instances, voters were not adequately warned at the polls as to why they must cast a provisional ballot, and in the case of Maricopa County, a provisional ballot cast in the primary did not serve as a voter registration for the following general election.

Yet, Richer rightly complained this current election cycle that the law prevents him from cleaning up the voter rolls in response to a story in the Arizona Daily Independent that revealed the County sent out numerous ballots to individuals no longer living at the address the ballots were mailed to.

Critics say the finding in the new report won’t change that and ignores the hazards of ballots falling into the hands of nefarious forces, the report does make a strong argument that votes like Howard’s should now be counted.

After dozens of laser printers malfunctioned during in-person voting in Maricopa County on Nov. 8, causing confusion for voters at roughly one-third of the county’s 223 voting centers, Arizona’s elections came into sharp focus.

The Task Force largely ignored the situation created by Maricopa County’s printer problems but did call for the establishment of “a statewide elections security framework that meets or exceeds federal certification requirements for tabulation equipment:

“The framework should include a funding source to ensure all tabulation equipment in Arizona meets the most up-to-date standards established by the United States Election Assistance Commission, currently Voluntary Voting System Guidelines 2.0. … “The statewide elections security framework will also include certification and testing requirements for tabulation of adjacent equipment (e.g., e-pollbooks, ballot-on-demand printers, voter registration systems).”

Hobbs also announced that she is funneling $2.3 million in American Rescue Plan (ARPA) funding to cover the cost of her latest executive orders which “authorize paid civic duty leave for state employees to serve as poll workers, make state buildings available as polling locations, and require state agencies to provide voter registration information and assistance to the Arizona citizens they serve.”

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