The GOP and conservative media are largely moving on from Arizona’s gubernatorial hopeful Kari Lake, and the systemic failures That occurred in Maricopa County, Nov. 8, according to court testimony and eyewitness accounts. Lake trial include allegations that Arizona’s largest county violated state law by failing to implement chain-of-custody documentation for Election Day ballots, resulting in a mysterious 25,000 extra votes added to Maricopa County’s official tally within a 24-hour period — more than the margin of victory between Lake and gubernatorial victor Katie Hobbs.
It was about 10:00 on election night when Maricopa County’s ballot tabulation vendor, Runbeck Election Services, received its first truckload of Election Day drop box ballots. Runbeck received seven truckloads of ballots, the last one arriving at 5 a.m. on the morning after the election. However, Runbeck staff found it strange that the deliveries didn’t arrive earlier in the day. But that wasn’t the only glitch. It was a departure from the usual procedure that there were no chain of custody forms included with the ballots.
Denise Marie, a Runbeck employee, said that drop-box ballots were used prior to Nov. 8. “delivered in red bins with a chain of custody form” From the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center, which lists how many ballots have been delivered.
But on election night, “instead of receiving the ballots in red bins, the ballots from the drop boxes had been placed in mail trays and loaded onto mail cages. MCTEC did not include the Maricopa County Delivery Receipt forms with any of the Election Day drop box ballot deliveries. There were no chain of custody forms with the ballots and no count of the number of ballots that were delivered,” Marie wrote in a swear affidavit.
Maricopa County Co-Director of Elections Reynaldo Valenzuela even testified that while the county’s election workers count drop box ballots and record the counts on documents as required by law prior to Election Day, they did not count the ballots retrieved from drop boxes on Election Day itself. When Valenzuela was quizzed by the court about the number of ballots dropped in drop boxes on Election Day, he said that he did not know. “On Election Day, no, because we’re not doing drop box courier process at that time. It’s a different process for Election Day.”
Kurt Olsen, Lake attorney, says this is in direct violation Arizona state statuteThis law requires that the county recordinger maintains records to log the chain in custody of ballots. “during early voting through the completion of provisional voting tabulation.”
Per Arizona’s Election Procedures ManualWhen ballots are removed from drop boxes they must be either counted at the local poll center or placed in secure ballot transport containers that can be returned to the county for tabulation. The county recorder or election official must count all ballots in the container and take a retrieval form.
As County Recorder, Maricopa County tabulators received greater number of Election Day drop-box ballots than ever before. Stephen Richer Witnesses testified that they took the ballots out of the ballot transport containers and did not count or record the number on a retrieval sheet for each dropbox. witnessed Leslie White is Republican poll watcher. This is a violation the chain of custody requirements that the county recording officer is responsible for implementing.
The ballots were then put in mail trays and loaded onto mail cages, which were then put on trucks and delivered to Runbeck to be scanned and counted, according to supply-chain auditor and Lake trial witness Heather Honey. And notably, according to Marie’s sworn affidavit, this loading of ballots into the trucks also occurred without any documentation or record of the number of ballots on each.
Since Maricopa County failed to create its own chain-of-custody documents for the Election Day drop box ballots, Runbeck made its own (called “MC Inbound Receipt of Delivery Forms“), which logged the seven truckloads of drop box ballots on election night. Runbeck used the delivery forms to estimate the total number election day drop box ballots at 263,379. This was calculated by multiplying the maximum number a mail tray can hold with the number of trays, as Honey explained to The Federalist.
Jeff Ellington, Runbeck CEO, provided a similar estimate for the number of ballots received via An. email November 9, 2009, “we started getting mail packets dropped off from Maricopa around 10pm last night and received mail packets about every hour through sunrise this morning. Likely between 250 and 275K packets were dropped off at the polls yesterday.”
Richer spoke at a press conference the following evening. affirmed Runbeck’s estimate by saying the county had received an unprecedented 275,000 drop-off ballots on Election Day. Maricopa County was also affected that day. reported the total number of ballots cast in the 2022 general election to the Arizona Department of State: 1,136,849 ballots, with 407,664 ballots left to count — 1,544,513 ballots total.
Maricopa asked Runbeck, at 5:30 p.m. that day, to calculate the total amount of Election Day drop off ballots received. Marie was charged with the tabulation. Marie found that Runbeck’s records showed 298,942 drop box ballots had been received and scanned on Election Day.
As a result of such a discrepancy between the estimate and the official tally, Maricopa County sent a new vote tally to the Arizona secretary of state’s office on Nov. 10 (earlier that day, Richer had sent an email to the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors admitting he could not reconcile the differences between the county’s numbers and the secretary of state’s listing, demonstrating that even the supposed expert official in charge of the counting process couldn’t figure out where the extra ballots came from). Instead of the original 1,544,513 total ballots reported for the 2022 general election in Maricopa County, the secretary of state’s website now listed 1,569,603, an increase of more than 25,000 votes with no explanation. Maricopa County held a second press conference that day. stating It had 292,000 Election Day drop-box ballots and not batting an eye.
What does this mean?
Arizona law requires that the county recorder show the origins and chain of custody documents for each drop box ballot. Maricopa County Co Director of Elections Reynaldo Valenzuela and Denise Marie, a Runbeck employee, said that Maricopa County failed to make any chain-of custody documentation for drop-box ballots received on Election Day. This failure means that no records exist to dispute the discrepancy between Runbeck’s initial report (263,379), and its final tally (298.942), which is a more than 35,000-vote increase. Olsen made this observation in his final argument for the Lake trail. “If you don’t have a count from MCTEC when those ballots are being transported to Runbeck, how do you know whether that count is secure?”
There are no chain-of custody documents. This is a violation Arizona law. It shows how Maricopa County was capable of adding more than 25,000 votes to its final total. That addition is more than Hobbs’ margin of victory, which was about 17,000 votes.
“On November 9th, the reported count is 25,000 ballots less, which is beyond the margin here, than on November 10th,” Olsen said. “So the day after the election, they put out what the count is and then magically 25,000 ballots appear on November 10th, and well, hey, that’s the race.”
While part of the argument Lake’s attorneys used in their lawsuit seeking to challenge Arizona’s gubernatorial election was that Maricopa County violated its own Election Procedural Manual by failing to implement chain-of-custody documentation, Arizona Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson rejected the claim due to the county’s assertion that such chain-of-custody documents exist, even though it failed to produce them. At the time of the trial, Maricopa County hadn’t fulfilled a public records request for the documents.
These documents can be used to count drop box ballots, but they are rare. Prior Honey reiterated to The Federalist that there is no such chain-of custody paperwork for Election Day drop-box ballots. The judge did not consider this alleged violation of state law and ruled against Lake’s challenge, saying she failed to present clear and convincing evidence of widespread misconduct.
The judge pointed out that Arizona has a ridiculously high standard for overturning elections because of misconduct. Lake had to not only allege misconduct, but also have the authority to overturn elections. Intention Conduct that could have an adverse effect on the election’s outcome. Lake has since filed two appeals — one with an appeals court, the other with the Arizona Supreme Court. The appeals court reached an agreement. expedite her case.
Matthew Roberts, Communications Manager at the Maricopa County Elections Department, answered questions about the alleged failure of chain-of custody documentation to be in place for the Nov. 8, election. “There are robust tracking and security procedures in place to document and ensure proper chain-of-custody of early ballots on Election Day. These policies and procedures were followed on Election Day, as well as throughout the early voting period. At no point during the process were chain of custody policies broken or procedures not followed and documented.”
The Maricopa County Elections Department did not respond to The Federalist’s request for documentation of the chain-of-custody process for the Election Day drop box ballots.
Victoria Marshall is a staff journalist at The Federalist. Her writings have been published in the New York Post and National Review. Hillsdale College, where she studied journalism and politics, graduated her in May 2021. Follow her Twitter @vemrshll.
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