Arizona’s Election Bungle - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Arizona’s Election Bungle

What is going on in Arizona?

That is a good question, which spawns a myriad of subquestions: Did the 2022 midterms turn Arizona blue, or at a minimum, purple? Is Arizona where the “stop the steal” movement went to die? Did the midterm election show the toxicity of a Trump endorsement in local general-election races? And how is it that Florida, a state with three times the population of Arizona, can have its votes counted before you go to bed on election night, but it takes Arizona almost two weeks?

Those are all valid questions, but here’s another, more pertinent query: Are Arizona election officials so incompetent that, even after all the problems in the 2020 election and with the eyes of the nation focused on them in the 2022 midterms, they could manage to royally screw up another election?

It turns out, this last question is a rhetorical one.

On election eve, Nov. 7, the vote tabulators at all 223 vote centers in Maricopa County, Arizona’s most populous county, comprising 62 percent of the state’s population, were checked and verified to be working properly. On election day, Nov. 8, in the first 30 minutes of voting, the tabulators started malfunctioning. During the day at least 25 percent of the tabulators were not tabulating votes; the county puts the number at 60 or 70, although others cite a higher figure. One team of Republican lawyers, led by Mark Sonnenklar, a roving attorney with the Republican National Committee’s Election Integrity program in Arizona, visited 115 of the 223 vote centers and found that 72 of them (62.61 percent) “had material problems with the tabulators not being able to tabulate ballots, causing voters to either deposit their ballots into box 3, spoil their ballots and re-vote, or get frustrated and leave the vote center without voting.”

The voters with denied votes were instructed to put their completed ballots in a special place — Box 3 or Door 3, it was called; those ballots would be tabulated later, they were told. However, many of those ballots were mixed with ballots already counted, making it impossible to determine which ballots were yet to be tallied.

Arizona attorney general Mark Brnovich sent a letter to county election officials alleging that the county broke ballot-handling laws:

Maricopa County appears to have failed to adhere to the statutory guidelines in segregating, counting, tabulating, tallying, and transporting the “Door 3” ballots. In fact, Maricopa County has admitted that, in some voting locations, “Door 3” non-tabulated ballots were commingled with tabulated ballots at the voting location. 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.

Brnovich’s letter also alleges that some voters, after attempting to vote, were told to travel to a different center and vote there; when they got there, they were told they had already voted (at the first location).

Lines were out the door throughout the county; some voters experienced one- or two-hour waits. Many gave up and went home without voting.

Summarized Sonnenklar:

It seems very clear that the printer/tabulator failures on election day at 62.61% of the vote centers observed by 11 roving attorneys, and the resulting long lines at a majority of all vote centers, led to substantial voter suppression. Moreover, because Republican voters significantly outnumbered Democrat voters in the County on election day, such voter suppression would necessarily impact the vote tallies for Republican candidates much more than the vote tallies for Democrat candidates.

Election officials have consistently minimized any problem, pushing back that election-day issues were quickly solved and, moreover, affected all voters, not just Republicans, and have slow-walked release of pertinent data. So important is it to maintain situation-normal in this election that the New York Times sent in a nothing-to-see-here team of reporters to run interference for election officials.

However, the Republican candidates themselves — especially gubernatorial hopeful Kari Lake — have throughout the campaign urged their supporters to vote on election day, because of widespread mistrust of early and mail-in voting. Some estimate the spread of Republican-Democrat election-day voting to be 70–30. Obviously, any screwups at the polling places affect Republican tallies more than Democrat vote counts.

And yet there were screwups aplenty. The Republican Party of Arizona (RPAZ) is accusing the county of voter suppression:

It was no secret that Republicans intended to vote on Election Day. The RPAZ and others publicly urged Maricopa County to prepare for a historic day of turnout. Sadly, that fell on deaf ears. The officials should have known better after an unprecedented number of Election Day voters during the Primary Election in August. While Democrats are more likely to vote by mail and thus were disproportionately less likely to be harmed by problems with tabulators and printers that arose on Election Day.

Reports from poll watchers associated with the Election Integrity Network corroborate the chaos. Said one observer, as reported by Shawn Fleetwood at the Federalist: “The printers were not properly calibrated so the tabulators did not read the ballots and were rejected. Many voters left because of the delays and either did not vote or had to go to other vote centers to vote.” Said another: “Some voters did not want to place rejected ballot into misreads box. Some voting centers may have mixed tabulated ballots with misreads.”

Lake, who is trailing her opponent, Katie Hobbs, by 17,000 votes, and has not yet conceded, filed suit Wednesday against the Maricopa County recorder and other parties, demanding that election officials produce records on their conduct of the midterm election. “These public records,” the suit reads, “are vital to the integrity of the election process and necessary to show, ahead of canvassing, that every legal ballot was properly counted.” The Republican National Committee, along with attorney general candidate Abraham Hamadeh, who is trailing his Democrat opponent by about 500 votes, has also filed suit, alleging “errors and inaccuracies in the management of some polling place operations, and in the processing and tabulation of some ballots.”

All have stepped away from the corruption charge — no one is asserting fraud, but simply incompetence. And incompetence on a grand, visible, embarrassing, humiliating scale.

Wrote Phil Boas, Arizona Republic columnist, “This was not a ‘glitch,’ nor was it mere ‘technical problems’ as some have called it. This was a largescale system meltdown on a day everyone knew for months would be thronged with MAGA voters who don’t trust early ballots.”

Lake, for her part, had this to say:

Printer problems, tabulation errors, three-hour-long lines and even longer, and confusing instructions given by election officials made this Election Day the most chaotic in Arizona’s history.… The 2022 general election in Arizona was botched and broken beyond repair.

“Botched and broken” though it be, the election is set to be certified on Nov. 28, the date by which the attorney general’s office has demanded a full report on election mismanagement; two rural counties, Cochise and Mohave, have delayed their election certifications until that date as well.

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