Maricopa County report says printer glitches did not prevent anyone from voting


PHOENIX — Maricopa County, facing a storm of GOP criticism over its handling of the Nov. 8 election, said in a report issued Sunday that problems with printers that surfaced on Election Day did not violate the Arizona Constitution or other guidelines intended to ensure free and fair elections. Instead, prominent Republicans were blamed for making their own supporters skeptical of an alternative that allowed voters who faced mechanical issues to vote.

The report comes in response to a request from the Arizona attorney general’s office election integrity unit for an account of the Election Day problems before the county is set to certify Its results will be announced Monday. State certification is scheduled for Dec.

Tom Liddy, head of Maricopa County’s civil division and a lifelong Republican, wrote in a five-page letter accompanying the report that “all voters were still provided reasonable, lawful options for voting.” But some Republican voters might have spurned one option — a secure box known as “Door 3” — because GOP leaders, including the state party chair, told voters not to use it, according to the report.

The county’s response aims to undercut claims circulated in recent weeks by Republican candidates in Arizona who have refused to accept the results of the election, in contrast to unsuccessful GOP contestants in other states. Arizona has been deemed a last frontier for false claims of election fraud by Trump’s former president.

The in-state fight pits Republican officials against other Republicans, who are questioning the results. The county’s election board is controlled by Republicans and is led by Bill Gates, a Republican.

Kari Lake, the GOP nominee for governor who was projected nearly two weeks to lose her race to Democrat Katie Hobbs, has refused to concede, pointing to the problems in Maricopa County, home to Phoenix and more than half the state’s voters. Mark Finchem, the GOP candidate for secretary of state who lost by more than 100,000 votes, has said the issues justify a “new election.”

Unpublished call shows clash between Maricopa and Kari lake campaigns

A lawsuit filed last week by Abe Hamadeh, the GOP candidate to be attorney general, alleges that mechanical glitches were also prominent in his suit. He trailed his Democratic opponent only by 510 votes at the end of the final tally, and was headed for an automatic recount.

Hamadeh asked an Arizona judge for an order to correct certain tabulation and procedural errors made by county officials. He claims that he will be the winner based on the final vote count. His Democratic opponent, Kris Mayes, over the weekend asked the judge to toss the lawsuit, which she described as a “fishing expedition to try to undermine Arizona’s election.”

Further afield, GOP activists used the problems to argue for the dismissal of officials from Maricopa County. This was also targeted by Trump after his defeat in 2020.

The bulk of the issues arose on Election Day after printers at least 43 of Maricopa County’s 223 polling sites produced ballots with ink that was too light to be read by vote-counting machines, the report states. The issues started 20-30 minutes after polling sites opened at 6 a.m., and continued for hours while technicians tried to find a solution.

The county issued instructions to make adjustments to the machines that print ballots at polling locations around 11:30 a.m. At 71 locations, settings were eventually changed.

The faulty ink forced voters to wait in line, travel to another location or deposit their ballots in the secure so-called “Door 3” boxes that were transferred to downtown Phoenix and counted there. An Arizona judge denied the request of Republicans for an emergency extension of voting hours on Election Day. The judge found that no one was prevented by casting a ballot.

The Washington Post published an analysis earlier in the month that found that the problems experienced by Maricopa County voters did not tend to be overwhelmingly Republican.

The county’s report indicates that a “root cause analysis” of the problems remains ongoing. But the report maintains that all printers used on Nov. 8 “had updated firmware, were installed with uniform settings, and used the same settings that were used in prior elections,” including during the primary in August.

The report notes that only a fraction of voters were affected by these problems. They were not disenfranchised, however, as they were still allowed to deposit their ballots at the secure boxes, which are used for decades. Ballots deposited in “Door 3” boxes accounted for 1 percent of total ballots issued to voters in the midterm elections, according to the county report.

Liddy writes that several counties in the state are dependent on this system. The ballots are not tallied at different polling stations but at one central location.

“It cannot be the case that the limited use of the Door 3 ballot box for some voters in Maricopa County violates the Constitution, while the required use of a ballot box by every voter in over half of the state’s counties does not,” he argues.

The county’s report blames influential Republicans for sowing doubt about the secure boxes, which it describes as a “legal, secure, and reliable voting option.”

Examples appended to the report include warnings not to use the boxes from Kelli Ward, chair of the Arizona Republican Party; Charlie Kirk, head of pro-Trump youth group Turning Point USA; and Tyler Bowyer, chief operating officer of Turning Point’s political arm, Turning Point Action.

“DO NOT PUT YOUR BALLOT IN ‘BOX 3’ OR ‘DRAWER 3,’” Ward wrote early in the morning on Nov. 8. Kirk warned that such ballots would not be tabulated on Election Day, telling his 1.8 million Twitter followers, “DO NOT PUT YOUR BALLOT IN BOX 3 TO BE ‘TABULATED DOWNTOWN.’”

Ward spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to my request for comment.

Andrew Kolvet, spokesperson for Kirk, stated that there was confusion on Election Day. “Instead of owning their mistakes, they’re now trying to pass blame onto other people who were doing their best to bring clarity in a morning unnecessarily full of chaos and confusion,” Kolvet said.

Bowyer claimed, through a spokesperson that county officials had shirked responsibility for the Election Day issues. Arizona voters, he said, “should not have been forced to drop their ballots into Box 3 in large numbers.”

County officials also examined the scope of ballots cast by voters who had checked into one polling location through an electronic device but then went to another location to vote — perhaps after encountering the mechanical glitches. Those who are now questioning the results have raised concerns about whether the number of check-ins matches the number of votes cast — a possible discrepancy raised in last weekend’s letter from the attorney general’s office.

According to the county report, both check-in/check-out procedures were covered in poll worker training as well as written guidelines that were provided to election workers. There were 206 people who checked in at one place and then went on to vote at another. 84 of those had checked out at the first location and then checked in at the second. They were issued standard ballots.

The remaining 122 voters didn’t check out at the first location, so they were issued a provisional ballot upon their arrival at the second center.

Given the printer issues that were traced back to the first locations, election officials decided the provisional ballots should be counted for 109 out of the 122 voters. Ballots for 11 voters were not counted because elections officials could not verify that a printing issue took place at the voters’ first location, or there was a discrepancy between the number of voter check-ins and the number of ballots counted at the first location. Ballots of two voters were not counted due to the fact that they were not properly placed into envelopes and then dropped in the on-site box.

Monday is the deadline by which county boards must canvass the results. Hobbs, in her capacity of secretary of state has indicated that her office is ready to take the county boards to court if they fail to fulfill their legal obligations regarding certification.

On Dec. 5, state officials will certify the results. A spokesperson for Gov. Doug Ducey (R) told The Post last week the governor “will do his job” when it comes to certifying the results. “He certified the election results in 2020 and he has every intention of doing so this year,” the spokesperson said.

Representatives for Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who demanded the Maricopa County response, did not respond to The Post’s inquiry last week about how he intends to approach his role as a witness in certifying the results.

1 – Maricopa County Response 11-27-2022

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