Maricopa County Stonewalls Numerous Public Records Requests Submitted by Election Integrity Researcher

Melissa White, who has been investigating election anomalies in the Maricopa County 2022 election with a team of researchers, submitted around 35 public records requests to Maricopa County since the election asking for documents, but has received very little back. Many of the responses from the county said there were “no responsive records.” She has encountered similar stonewalling from the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office (AZSOS).

White finally began working with the Arizona Ombudsman (AO) to assist her with the requests. The AO is “an independent agency of the Arizona Legislature that was established to make government more responsive to Arizona citizens.”

She told the AO, “There is a reason people are bringing lawsuits against them and it is unacceptable to withhold public records from we the people. I have repeatedly had to show them their own employees’ public media statements claiming they had records yet when I submitted a PRR they told me no responsive records exist and when questioned they claim they do not have to answer questions.”

She added, “It was NEVER supposed to be this hard for average citizens to get records of how “elected officials” that work for us use our money and run our counties! This is unacceptable behavior and in violation of transparency as well as statutes.”

On January 16, White asked Maricopa County for “[a]ll records relating to Logic and Accuracy testing prior to the November 8th 2022 General Election. Including but not limited to all ‘comprehensive stress testing’ of ballot on demand printers…”

The county responded to her request, #1378, and said she could come to the office and inspect the records. When White asked to receive copies instead, they told her it would cost “at least $3,755,” including shipping. White declined.

On February 2, White asked the county for “[a]ll recordings of MCTEC for the periods of October 11th 2022 through November 14th 2022 including any election activities for the November 8th 2022 General Election. Includes logic and accuracy testing, ballot opening and or processing, adjudication, duplication, tabulation etc.”

The county charged her $650 for two 10 TB hard drives with the videos to fulfill public records request #1474.

When she received the videos, she discovered some were missing. “The 2nd hard drive NONE OF THE MP4 FILES HAVE VIDEO ON THEM IT SHOWS A STILL SHOT OF A CAMERA FOR 12+HRS ON ALL THE FILES!,” she wrote back. “I am missing ALL of the receiving area cameras for the ballots. The MP4 files I do have, the videos have ALL been edited and chopped on every single video! There are certain camera angles I have but only for 5 of the days! I paid $650 for these records and I don’t have even 40% of the data.”

An account named “Public Records Custodian” responded, “Please be advised that the surveillance cameras are motion-activated, meaning that they only record when there is movement in front of it. Therefore, there would be no footage to view if there was no movement in front of the camera.”

White told the ombudsman that one of the two hard drives she provided had no video on it, and the other had been selectively edited.

On February 28, she asked for tabulation emails/records/correspondence from October 15, 2022, through January 1, 2023. However, she received for request #1533 only the first nine days requested and “no records for election day ballots nor the last days of early voting/emergency voting.” She asked about two contracts that were cited in the documents, and those were turned over to her on March 31. However, the rest of her objections were ignored.

“Please be advised that everything responsive to your request has been provided,” Public Records Custodian responded. “Your public records request was acknowledged on 2/23/23 and fulfilled on 3/1/23. Therefore, PRR #1533 has been completed and closed.”

White made a request on February 28 asking for chain-of-custody documentation for ballots from the November election, and reports or documents showing the number of duplicated ballots from that election. After being asked to narrow her request, White responded that day and limited it to a few employee names and a few keywords.

However, the county has still not fulfilled her request, #1534. She asked multiple times for status updates yet was told each time that due to her request being “extensive” it is still being worked on.

On March 20, White asked the AZSOS for “All correspondence, meeting minutes, emails etc. regarding the SOS equipment certification committee for 2021 and 2022.”

Also, on March 20, White asked the AZSOS for “All correspondence between the Secretary of state or SOS employees and Ryan Macias, RSM Election Solutions during 2021, 2022 & 2023.”

Amy Chan, general counsel for the Chan, responded on March 30 that it would constitute “an unreasonable administrative burden” for the office due to “the named and many unnamed individuals over a three-year span” and the need to redact confidential information.

However, she said White could narrow the scope of her request and try again.

White pushed back regarding the first request. She sent an email that said, “All correspondence, meeting minutes, emails etc regarding SOS equipment certification committee for 2021 and 2022. You stated I have asked for records from January 2021 until present which is NOT what I requested!” She added, “In 2021 there were only 4 meetings for this committee. In 2022 there were 5 meetings for this committee. I truly fail to see how this is overly burdensome.”

She said providing just the meeting minutes wasn’t enough.

“Despite statute stating either meeting minutes or video recordings must be made of each meeting, the ‘meeting minutes’ published are very clearly not an accurate representation of events that took place during said meetings,” White said.

However, Lori Wilson, the public records lead for the AZSOS, responded and said even going over a year of documents was too burdensome, so she would only provide the meeting minutes.

Similarly, White pushed back against the denial of records regarding Macias. “To claim this is an unreasonable burden when no quoted cost has even been given to produce said records, this seems to be in conflict with AZ statute,” she said. In response, Wilson merely referenced the law.

On March 24, White asked the county for the printer logs from the ballot-on-demand printers “from October 11th 2022 through November 8, 2022 including election day.” The county responded on March 27 to her request, #1579, and said there were “no responsive records.”

On or before March 27, White asked the county for all “Audit board” and “Central Counting Place Board” activity logs related to processing and/or counting ballots. The county asked her to narrow the request, which she did, listing specific employees and specific keywords to search emails for. The county still has not fully responded to her request yet; when White asks for a status update on #1578, they reply that her request was “extensive,” so they “will respond as the public records law requires.”

On April 20, White asked the county for information related to the report from former Arizona Supreme Court Justice Ruth McGregor about the printing problems on Election Day. After the county asked her to narrow her request down to a limited number of words, she exchanged several emails with the county about it. White contended that her request was already very detailed. The county fully responded on June 12. The email stated there were “no responsive records” to much of her request, some of her appeal was still being worked on, and provided some documents containing information the county had provided to McGregor.

One of the items the county said there were no records for from White’s request was “[c]opies of all printed ballots/test ballots used during [McGregor’s] investigation, all printer logs from the Sentio system, OKI B432, LexmarkC4150, system log files(SLOG files) from any Tabulators used to test/tabulate any printed ballots.” Some of the request, #1649, was denied because it was McGregor’s “work product” which was “never provided” to the county.

On May 20, White asked the county for public records requests that others had filed “regarding the 2022 General election and any election processes related to the 2022 general election.” The county responded to #1729 with a list of general topics. White shot back that she was requesting “[r]ecords of what the PRR’s were requesting NOT a generic list with generic categories!”

On June 18, White asked the county for copies of 27 more public records requests that others had filed relating to the election. When the county responded and said it would take awhile, Wright pointed out that ABC-15’s Garrett Archer is able to retrieve requests that others have already filed immediately, “the same day his request was made.” The county responded defending its slower response to #1807, “Our response depends on the scope of the request and the resources necessary to process your request.”

On June 26, White asked the county for the “control slips” printed out along with the ballots from the ballot-on-demand printers from the 2022 election and their chain-of-custody documentation. That same day, the county responded to #1824 and said they had “no responsive records.”

In Montenegro last month, one of the political parties demanded a new election, which a court awarded, after discovering “the number of control slips did not match the number of voters who were identified in the extract from the voter list as having voted.”

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Rachel Alexander is a reporter at The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Rachel on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].



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3 Thoughts to “Maricopa County Stonewalls Numerous Public Records Requests Submitted by Election Integrity Researcher”

  1. Rick Flaaen

    It is too bad government officials start playing games and withholding public records and material. This only leads to a distrust and disdain for that governing body and, eventually, its overthrow by whatever means the people determine most necessary in response to the perceived level of corruption of the governing body.

  2. Linda Faye

    So this process being conducted by Ms White does appear to be experiencing some major ‘stone walling’
    effects! In my opinion.
    According to many Maricopa officials I e Gov Katie Hobbs – (aka SOS – ‘ 22), election was conducted fairly.
    You can’t have it both ways, honor Ms. White’s requests! Is Ms. White working with Cleta Mitchell, Election Integrity Network office in D.C.?

  3. Richard M.

    When Montenegro is more transparent than Maricopa, we know we have sunk below Third World Standards.