The Election Integrity Network (EIN) has compiled a list of reports from election workers, poll watchers, and volunteer attorneys about questionable things they observed during Maricopa County’s midterm election, which experienced rampant tabulation machine and printer problems. EIN Chairman and election integrity attorney Cleta Mitchell denounced Maricopa County officials for “misinformation” regarding how bad the problems really were.
Mitchell said, “Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates, Director of Elections Scott Jarrett, and County Recorder Stephen Richer presided over a wholly mismanaged and disgraceful election on November 8 that has robbed countless voters of their political voices. Since the polls opened on Election Day, they have misled and misinformed the public about what really happened. But thanks to engaged citizens, we know the truth.”
The group stated on its website, “Observers reported ‘chaos’ at multiple voting centers caused by printer and tabulator malfunctions, all day, contradicting statements by Gates and Richer that the problems had been ‘solved.’” Many of the individual reports submitted to EIN discussed how the technology problems lasted well into the day, often up until the polls closed.
The report contained troubling observations from 96 people. An observer at the Worship and Word Church in Peoria said due to the tabulation machine problems causing long delays, two to three people left the line and went home, saying they “had to get their kids home” or “forget it.”
Another observer reported that a man was not allowed to vote because he showed up just after 7 p.m. He tried to explain that he couldn’t find parking and was further delayed because he went to the wrong side of the building, but the poll workers would not let him vote and called the police, who made him and two others behind him in the line leave.
The observer also saw the “Door 3” ballots (the ones that were unable to run through the tabulating machines successfully) inappropriately combined with the tabulated ballots in black bags.
Another poll observer stated about the tabulation problems, “In the 42 years I have been voting – 99% in person, I have never experienced such chaos, confusion and voter suppression.”
At least nine locations were reported as having problems that were not included in the official county list of 70. They were Oasis Community Church, Community of Christ Church, VENUE 8600, Chandler Church, Living Water Lutheran Church, Journey Church, Dove of the Desert United Methodist Church, Ascension Lutheran Church, and Horizon Community Center. All of them were heavily Republican.
Of the respondents who contributed to the report, who were mainly poll workers and observers, 84.38 percent said they were “not at all confident” that the election results were “completely accurate and honest.” Only 1.04 percent were “very confident,” 13.54 percent were “somewhat confident,” and 1.04 percent had no opinion. The respondents identified voting technology as their top level of concern, followed by ballot harvesting, competence of election administrators, bloated and inaccurate rolls, and process for verification of identity of absentee voters.
One respondent added another issue, reporting that they were denied the ability to check in, which prompted concern that there would be no way to check back later to figure out if the misread ballots were ever counted or not. “I was denied checkin count so it could not be compared to ballot count which would have identified the gap,” the respondent stated. Another respondent reported, “Chain of custody… completed ballot transport boxes not secure.” A third respondent reported, “They did not count the turned green early voter or provisional envelopes before they left the building and the machines did not read the ballots.”
The respondents had a low level of confidence in the voting machines and other technology, with 78.72 responding they were “not at all confident.” Only 1.06 percent were “very confident,” while 15.96 percent were “somewhat confident,” and 4.26 percent had no opinion.
Some of the incidents reported included “improper storage of spoiled ballots” and lack of chain of custody for them. One person reported three anomalies: “Poll workers independently overwrote low ink areas on voter ballots; no oversight and was not a dual party process,” “Misfed ballots were placed in an unsecured plastic bin by the exit door,” and “At the end of the day mail-in ballots dropped off were not counted for chain of custody documentation.” Another respondent echoed that last complaint, “There is virtually no chain of custody for early ballots mailed in or dropped off.”
Another person stated, “Blank ballots missing from sealed boxes. 200 total missing.” There were multiple reports of commingling the Door 3 ballots with tabulated ballots in the black bags and poll workers not counting ballots that were dropped off to provide chain of custody. Another incident described was a “panicked inspector when I asked for checkin and ballot cast data. Never got it.” Similarly, another report stated, “I was not able to obtain the number of voters signed in versus the number of Ballots cast or recorded.”
One observer stated, “The plastic bins where the early mail in ballots that were dropped off on election day were very flimsy and did not close all the way because one bin was stuffed too high. Even with the tape and zipties, one could easily lift to remove or add ballots to that box.” Another person complained, “I witnessed additional ballots stuffed in a blot box, I reported the event, supported by video and then although my report was acknowledged, nothing else happened.” Similarly, an observer worried, “Counted and recorded blank ballots and then left them unsecured in the room at the end of the night.”
There were additional concerns about securing the ballots. “After closing there were not enough numbered zip ties to properly seal the ballot bags,” an observer stated.
There was a complaint about signature verification. “As a poll worker checking voters in many voters apologized that the signature looks nothing like their real signature and many just made a squiggly line. These signatures will be worthless for signature verification of mail in or early ballots that are signed with ink pen in the future.”
A poll worker complained about the partisanship of another worker. “The Inspector at my vote center acted deceptively in that he is registered as a Republican but votes Democrat. Informed me himself. He and a Democrat transported the ballots to the County election center.”
One observer said there was an IT tech at the location during the entire shift, but he was not allowed to figure out the tabulation machine problem remotely. The tech expressed his frustration that instead they had to wait for a tech to drive there to fix it.
Multiple observers complained that the voter rolls weren’t maintained. Others observed somewhat large numbers of ballots dropped off, such as eight or 10 by one person. Many witnessed angry voters leave without voting.
Additionally, EIN revealed, “Volunteer Attorneys reported findings [that] directly contradict the statements of County election officials that (1) printer/tabulator issues were limited to only 70 of the 223 vote centers, (2) the printer/tabulator problems were resolved as of 3:00 p.m., and (3) the printer/tabulator issues were insignificant in the entire scheme of the election.“ The roving attorneys reported that out of the 115 vote centers they visited, 72 of them, or 62.61 percent, had tabulation machine problems.
Attorney Mark Sonnenklar said the Inspector at one location had spoiled ballots sitting unsecured in a pile next to her, and when she added ballots to the pile, she did not spoil them immediately. Attorney Aaron Ludwig observed that “during just one observer shift, many hundreds of Box 3 ballots were put into bags [instead of in secure Door 3 boxes].” He added, “I observed at least five voters tell an inspector that, earlier in the day, they left a particular voting location because of printer/tabulator issues, so they returned to it in the evening, but they arrived just after 7:00 p.m. and were not allowed in line.”
Tabatha LaVoie, who served as a roving attorney for the Republican National Committee’s Election Integrity Program, said Gates’ assertion on Election Day that voters could request to cancel their check-in and go to a different vote center was not accurate, since only one Inspector at the nine vote centers she stopped by said they were providing that option to voters.
At one location, the Republican observer told LaVoie that she counted 207 voters all day. However, the Inspector told her that her counting wasn’t necessary since the tabulating machines do that, and they reported a total of 457. The observer stated she was perplexed as to how she could have missed 250 people.
In contrast, a satisfied observer reported, “I was assigned a very Democratic area and was pleased overall with how the system operated. I felt like the election was very well run at the polling places.” The tabulation machine problems almost exclusively occurred in heavily Republican areas.
The EIN is still collecting reports on its site from the election.
– – –