Before the results are certified, the Arizona attorney general's office wants answers about the bungled administration of the 2022 general election in Maricopa County. On Saturday, the AGO wrote to the Maricopa County attorney's affice, raising problems voters faced in ballot tabulators and ballot-on-demand printers, along with potential election law violations.
What are the details?
In a Nov. 19 letter addressed to the Maricopa County attorney's office, Arizona Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Wright noted that the AGO's Election Integrity Unit has received "hundreds of complaints ... pertaining to issues related to the administration of the 2022 General Election in Maricopa County."
"These complaints go beyond pure speculation, but include first-hand witness accounts that raise concerns regarding Maricopa's lawful compliance with Arizona election law," wrote Wright.
On the basis of these complaints and the problematic administration of the election, Wright underscored how Arizonans "deserve a full report and accounting of the myriad problems" that occurred in Maricopa County on Election Day.
In addition to voters' complaints, Wright indicated there was additional cause for concern, given that "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 [Arizona election law]."
Having invoked Arizona Revised Statutes Section 16-1021, which allows the attorney general to "enforce the provisions of this title through civil and criminal actions" in any election for state office, the AGO demanded answers about:
- Election Day ballot-on-demand printer configuration settings;
- Election Day "check-out" procedures; and the
- apparent contravention of statutory guidelines and failure to segregate, count, tabulate, tally, and transport ballots that voters were otherwise unable to have tabulated using on-site tabulators.
According to Votebeat Arizona, vote-counting machines had trouble tabulating ballots on Election Day "because the timing marks on the ballot — the black lines on the sides that tell the machine where the contests are located so the machine can tally the votes — were not printing correctly. As a result, the machines were rejecting the ballots."
Nearly 27% of the voting centers (60 of the 223) were affected, generating longer wait times and confusion.
Nearly 17,000 Maricopa County voters (7% of all in-person voters) were reportedly "unable to watch machines tabulate their ballots on-site" because of printing malfunctions.
Sworn complaints submitted by election workers employed by Maricopa County indicated the printers had been tested on Nov. 7 "without any apparent problems," Wright noted.
Notwithstanding successful tests the night before, the printers started to malfunction within the first 30 minutes of voting on Election Day.
County Supervisor Chairman Bill Gates said at the time, "There is no question this is frustrating. ... We don’t believe anyone has been disenfranchised."
Gates claimed over the weekend that the printer problems did not disproportionately affect "Republican-leaning areas."
The AGO's election integrity unit expects a report detailing:
- the voting centers that experienced these problems;
- the specific problems at each location; any other printer issues that may have contributed to the problem;
- a "comprehensive log of all changes to the [ballot-on-demand] printer configuration settings (to include the identity of individuals making changes)";
- the county's standards for the printer configuration settings "as specified in internal technical specifications and/or manufacturer technical specifications"; and
- other concerns.
Although the AGO made no claims of fraud or guilt regarding the printer errors, the questions asked appear open to the possibility of malfeasance and meddling.
Wright referenced sworn complaints received by the election integrity unit, which indicated that voters had trouble checking out of voting locations to cast their votes at functional centers.
"Not only have 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 [virtual pollbook] maintained the voter had cast a ballot in the original voting location," Wright wrote in her letter.
This is troubling, suggested Wright, given "Arizona law specifically prohibits provisional ballots to be counted when a voter has signed multiple pollbooks."
The AGO requested a report detailing whether poll workers were properly trained on how to "check out" voters so that they could "lawfully vote in another location" and all those voters who were provided a provisional ballot "due to having already signed an e-pollbook at another Election Day voting location.
Wright's letter also presses the Maricopa County attorney's office to report on the fate of ballots deposited at "Door 3."
Since tabulators were malfunctioning at multiple locations, affected voters were told to deposit their ballots into a slot on a secure box at each location. According to Votebeat Arizona, the boxes were labeled with a "3" sticker, hence the name "Door 3."
From there, Wright suggested that "non-tabulated ballots were commingled with tabulated ballots at the voting location" prior to being taken to the central elections center.
One sworn complaint suggested that thousands of non-tabulated ballots received at "Door 3" had been put in black duffle bags "intended to be used for tabulated ballots."
Liddy, Lake respond
Thomas Liddy, the civil division chief at the Maricopa County attorney's office addressed in Wright's letter, told Fox News Digital that he will convene with his clients "and begin the process of gathering the materials necessary to respond. As you are undoubtedly aware, Ms. Wright is still working on the AG’s Final Report of the 2020 election. I am looking forward to receiving that as well."
After the AGO's letter went out, Kari Lake told the Daily Mail that the "way they run elections in Maricopa County is worse than in banana republics around this world."
The Associated Press called the race for Hobbs on Nov. 14. Lake trailed Democratic candidate Katie Hobbs by fewer than 18,000 votes and has yet to concede defeat.
"I'll tell you what, I believe at the end of the day that this will be turned around, and I don't know what the solution will be, but I still believe I will become governor, and we are going to restore honesty to our elections," said Lake.