Expert Testifies During Second Day of Kari Lake’s Election Contest That 3-Second Signature Verification Was Impossible

The second of three days scheduled for Kari Lake’s second election contest trial, which focused only on signature verification problems, wrapped up on Thursday, with Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson declining to grant the defendant’s motion for a directed verdict. Witness testimony focused on the speed that signature reviewers went over voters’ signatures on mail-in ballots, with many reviewers taking less than two seconds to compare signatures to see if they matched.

Lake tweeted after the second day of the trial concluded, “John Hancock was one of our founding fathers. He was a truly accomplished man. But the thing we most remember him most for is signing his own name. A lifetime of service summed up with a signature. A signature means a lot to this country. It means nothing to Maricopa County.”

Maricopa County Elections Director Rey Valenzuela, who began testifying on Wednesday, returned to the witness stand. Lake’s attorney Brian Blehm asked him if employees conducted signature verification remotely from their homes without cameras or observers. Valenzuela ducked the question, responding, “There is not a set standard or protocol to do signature verification from home.” Blehm pressed him repeatedly to respond yes or no, until he finally admitted that it does take place.

Next, Erich Speckin of Speckin Forensics took the witness stand to discuss a spreadsheet he’d created showing how quickly signature reviewers examined signatures and what percentage they approved matching. Specklin’s expertise is in document examination and handwriting analysis.

He said that the less time a signature reviewer compared signatures, the more likely they were to approve them, which he stated was “counterintuitive.” On one batch of 36,086 ballots, the reviewer took less than 6 seconds to compare signatures and approved 99.65 percent. Within that batch, where the reviewer took less than four seconds to review 24,904 signatures, they approved 99.87 percent. And where the reviewer took less than three seconds to review 13,749 signatures, they approved 99.88 percent of them, rejecting only 12.

Speckin appeared disturbed that one batch of 27,196 ballots that averaged less than three seconds per signature review ended with 100 percent approval. He said that approximately 275,825 signatures were reviewed in less than three seconds.

Lake’s attorney Kurt Olsen asked him if any signatures were reviewed in less than two seconds, and he responded, “There were about 70,000 instances.” Speckin said he looked over the reviewers that had over 1,000 instances each of two-second reviews and discovered that seven of the reviewers had approved all 100 percent of their batches.

Olsen asked him, “What is your expert opinion as to the physical ability to compare a signature for consistency in less than three seconds?”

Speckin replied, “I don’t believe it can be done. I look at this all day, every day. This is what I do and I’ve done for 30 years running with signatures. I’m not going to sit here and tell the court no one in the world can be better than me. I really do believe I’m at the top of the pyramid of who could do this and how to do it. If I can’t do it, I don’t see how anyone could do it on a mass scale day after day after day, hour after hour.”

The defense attorneys cross-examined Speckin, trying to hurt his credibility, known as impeachment, by bringing up two situations from 30 years ago where a judge said he didn’t have expertise in a particular area, so they excluded his testimony. However, that area was not a document examination or signature review. Speckin said that the same judge acknowledged his expertise in those areas.

A defense attorney asked Speckin whether a single vote was wrongly cast in the election. Speckin said he was not providing testimony on that aspect. The attorney then asked if he would say no signature verification occurred in Maricopa County. Speckin said he does not speak in absolutes very much, so that is not something that he would say.

Another defense attorney motioned for a directed verdict, stating that Lake’s team had not proven with clear and convincing evidence that no signature verification was taking place. She pointed out that Lake’s witnesses testified they had participated in the signature review.

Olsen provided the rebuttal. He said A.R.S. 16-550 states what is required for signature verification. “It’s not just sitting in front of a desk and tapping on a keyboard through screens,” he explained. The statute says “shall compare” and the reviewer must make a determination.

“Defendants would have us believe that ‘compare’ has no meaning,” he said.

Olsen said, “Defendants didn’t dispute that over 70,000 signatures were approved in less than 2 seconds.” Pointing out that over 274,000 signatures were verified in less than 3 seconds, with 99 to 100 percent approved, he declared, “100 percent is not signature verification. It isn’t simply ‘anything goes.’”

He added, “They didn’t put up an expert who said you can compare signatures that quickly. That’s fatal.” Olsen cited Reyes v. Cuming, a 1997 Arizona case involving similar circumstances, where voters’ signatures on the envelopes were not compared to the voter registration list. Similarly, Olsen said “you cannot compare a signature in less than 3 seconds.” He pointed out that even Valenzuela agreed that it can’t be done in half a second.

He said there was “undisputed testimony” that “level two reviewers are so overwhelmed that rather than conducting any signature verification, they would kick the ballots back to level one to be reviewed when they’d already been rejected.”

Maricopa County Deputy Attorney Tom Liddy concluded the day’s proceedings by questioning Valenzuela. He asked him how long it took to review signatures. Valenzuela’s answers varied, saying 2 to 4 seconds, then later 1 second, then 1 to 2 seconds, then finally saying it took himself less than a second.

Democrat Katie Hobbs defeated Lake in the gubernatorial election by about 17,000 votes. A March poll from Rasmussen Reports found that 55 percent of likely Arizona voters believe that problems with the 2022 election in Maricopa County affected the outcome of last year’s election.

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Rachel Alexander is a reporter at The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News NetworkFollow Rachel on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Kari Lake” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0.




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One Thought to “Expert Testifies During Second Day of Kari Lake’s Election Contest That 3-Second Signature Verification Was Impossible”

  1. Johnathan Galt

    Kari Lake is the rightful governor of Arizona. Once the usurper is removed, she should be able to reverse (or affirm) every single act by the usurper – including to pass vetoed bills, nullify executive orders, etc.

    Fraud vitiates everything.