Arizona isn’t banning machines to count ballots. Why a top senator’s declaration means nothing | Jen Fifield/Votebeat Arizona

A letter from Arizona Senate majority leader Sonny Borrelli to all 15 counties in the state is causing confusion about the use of machines to count ballots in future elections. Borrelli’s letter claims that a resolution passed by the legislature earlier this year prohibits the use of electronic voting systems unless they meet certain criteria, which current systems in Arizona do not. However, the resolution is not legally binding and does not change existing laws. County officials have stated that they will continue to follow state and federal laws regarding election equipment and procedures. Borrelli’s letter is seen by some as an attempt to push for a ban on voting machines based on concerns about their security, fueled in part by baseless claims made by former President Donald Trump, Read Articl

Arizona: After botching election results, Pinal County wants to try hand-counting ballots | Jen Fifield/Votebeat Arizona

Pinal County supervisors in Arizona are considering hand-counting ballots in future elections despite the proven drawbacks of manual counting, as they face pressure from residents who believe in false claims about vote switching. The county’s previous election had errors due to human error, not the tabulation machines. Supervisors plan to conduct a trial hand-count using a sample of 2022 ballots and discuss the possibility of counting all 2024 ballots by hand, although it is currently illegal in Arizona. The county is taking steps to address election problems, including adding staff and implementing new processes, while also exploring the option of hand-counting to appease public demand. Read Article

Arizona judge dismisses Kari Lake’s final claim in election loss for governor | Aossicated Press

A judge has dismissed the only remaining legal claim in Republican Kari Lake’s challenge of her loss in the 2022 Arizona gubernatorial race, affirming the election of Democrat Katie Hobbs. Lake, who promoted former President Donald Trump’s election lies during her campaign, failed to prove her claim that Maricopa County did not verify signatures on mail ballots as required by law. Despite other election deniers conceding after losing their races in November, Lake has continued to tout her legal battle and has been mentioned as a potential vice presidential pick for Trump. However, the judge ruled against her, stating that the evidence did not support her claim. Read Article

Arizona: Why Kari Lake is still, six months after losing, in court arguing the 2022 election was stolen? | Jen Fifield/Votebeat Arizona

Kari Lake, a GOP candidate who continues to assert that the 2020 election was fraudulently stolen from her, persists with shape-shifting arguments in court even six months after the races were called. Recently, a judge granted Lake a trial on a claim that has undergone changes over time, reflecting her determination to challenge the election results. Despite lacking evidence to support her allegations, Lake has used the ongoing litigation as a platform to spread false claims and solicit funds from supporters. The prolonged legal battle not only fuels uncertainty among voters but also deepens distrust in the electoral system. While Lake benefits from fundraising opportunities, taxpayers foot the bill for state and county attorneys defending the election. This protracted timeline hampers the ability of the Republican Party in Arizona to move forward and focus on upcoming elections, including a crucial Senate race in 18 months. Read Article

Arizona Urged to Strengthen Election Result Verification and Transparency Following Pinal County Ballot Count Errors | Jen Fifield/Votebeat Arizona

A Votebeat investigation revealed that election officials in Pinal County, Arizona, documented significant errors in ballot counts before certification but did not disclose them until a recount compelled them to do so. To prevent such mistakes in the future, experts and advocates recommend implementing new rules and guidelines for double-checking election results and increasing state support for county officials responsible for running elections. They emphasize the need for transparency in acknowledging and addressing errors, even in a hostile environment. Key suggestions include strengthening rules for result verification, enhancing the state’s hand-count audit process, following best practices for tracking ballots, and providing better support and training for county officials involved in elections Read Article

Arizona: Thousands of texts from Trump allies stay hidden a year after judge’s order on ‘audit’ | Ryan Randazzo/Arizona Republic

More than a year after a judge ordered the leader of the controversial Arizona “audit” to turn over his texts and other electronic messages, thousands still remain inexplicably hidden. Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan has released more than 39,000 messages, available to anyone who wants to try to make sense of the disordered, sometimes duplicative documents. But his refusal to let go of an estimated 3,000 more raises questions about what’s in them, and why they remain secret despite a court order. … The Arizona Republic has fought for public records of the review of the 2020 Maricopa County general election for almost two years from the Arizona Senate and from the Cyber Ninjas. Reporters have reviewed what has been released and noted the redactions. The news organization’s attorneys have raised objections where they believe information was improperly withheld.

Full Article: Texts from Arizona ‘audit’ are kept secret by Cyber Ninjas’ Doug Logan

Arizona Republicans expelled an election denier from the legislature. Here’s why. | Yvonne Wingett Sanchez/The Washington Post

For 40 minutes, the witness before a joint committee of the Arizona legislature unfurled her theory: A Mexican drug cartel was secretly paying off state and local government officials as part of an election-fraud scheme. Everyone from the governor on down was implicated. Even senior-ranking Republicans. When a GOP state senator balked at the outlandish claims and asked the witness, a local insurance agent, who had invited her to the February session, she identified a first-term Republican, state Rep. Liz Harris. From the dais, Harris motioned her hand across her neck in a gesture commonly used to cue silence. In the two and a half years since Donald Trump falsely claimed victory in the 2020 election, Republican officeholders have rarely held their fellow party members accountable for originating or spreading misinformation about the electoral system. In Arizona GOP circles, the false claims have run particularly rampant, eroding support for democracy and costing taxpayers millions of dollars as lawmakers hunted futilely for proof that the vote had been rigged. But the case of the Arizona legislator who helped perpetuate the groundless belief that the Sinaloa drug cartel was orchestrating election fraud ended this month with an unusual twist: She was expelled from office by her colleagues, Republicans included.

Full Article: Arizona Republicans expelled an election denier from the legislature. Here’s why. – The Washington Post

Arizona: Cochise County’s pick for elections director, Bob Bartelsmeyer, spread false claims | Jen Fifield/Votebeat Arizona

Cochise County is close to hiring an elections director who has repeatedly shared false claims about widespread election fraud on Facebook, including claims that the 2020 presidential election was rigged against former President Donald Trump. Bob Bartelsmeyer, currently the elections director in La Paz County, was chosen by Cochise County Recorder David Stevens for the spot. The county supervisors are set to appoint him at their Tuesday meeting, according to a meeting agenda posted on the county website. “Please join me by posting ‘Trump legally won by landslide’” one post shared by Bartelsmeyer in December 2020 said. “REVEALED: ‘Simple Math’ Shows Biden Claims 13 MILLION More Votes Than There Were Eligible Voters Who Voted in 2020,” read another. In Cochise, Bartelsmeyer would be working for a southern Arizona county where the Republican-controlled Board of Supervisors is considering GOP-backed changes to the county’s elections. Proposals include pursuing a potential plan to get rid of the county’s vote-counting machines because of false claims of vote switching that are similar to those shared by Bartelsmeyer in 2020.

Full Article: Cochise County’s pick for elections director, Bob Bartelsmeyer, spread false claims – Votebeat Arizona – Nonpartisan local reporting on elections and voting

Arizona Senate settles suit over election audit for $150K | Associated Press

A left-leaning watchdog group on Wednesday announced a settlement of over $150,000 in a public records lawsuit against the Arizona Senate, which fought to withhold emails, texts and other records involving a partisan audit of the 2020 election. American Oversight, which promotes government transparency, will receive $153,000 from the state Senate. According to the agreement that both parties initially signed in March, they will mutually release each other from legal claims. The agreement also specifies that the settlement is not an indication of any wrongdoing. The litigation also extended to Cyber Ninjas, the now defunct Florida-based firm that led the Senate’s review of ballot counting machines, computers and ballots in Maricopa County. Shortly before the settlement agreement was signed, lawyers for The Arizona Republic argued that some of the records being withheld by the Senate should still be made publicly available. The whole ordeal was worthwhile for “having succeeded in bringing much-needed transparency” to the audit, American Oversight said in a statement.

Full Article: Arizona Senate settles suit over election audit for $150K | AP News

Arizona: Maricopa County election investigation: Ballots were too long, paper too heavy for printers | Caitlin Sievers/AZ Mirror

Ballots that were too long and paper that was too heavy for some of Maricopa County ballot printers caused the majority of Election Day tabulation problems on Nov. 8, 2022, according to a report by a team of independent investigators the county hired to get to the bottom of the Election Day chaos. The ballot-printing problems, which caused tabulators to reject some ballots, led to frustration and long lines at some voting centers on Election Day. The printer malfunctions, which occurred at around 70 of Maricopa County’s 229 voting centers open that day, also fueled conspiracy theories from people like Republican Kari Lake, who lost her bid for governor to Democrat Katie Hobbs by around 17,000 votes. Lake claimed in her election challenge lawsuit that someone had intentionally tampered with the printers in an effort to disenfranchise in-person Election Day voters, who swung heavily Republican. But the trial, appellate and Arizona Supreme courts did not find Lake’s claims to be valid. Likewise, the independent investigation team found no evidence of tampering.

Source: Maricopa County election investigation: Ballots were too long, paper too heavy for printers

Could Ballot Images Loosen the Grip of Disinformation? | Steven Rosenfeld/Washington Monthly

Former President Donald Trump’s indictment in New York City has put election disinformation back under the klieg lights. But across the country in Arizona, a noteworthy and nominally bipartisan reform intended to loosen disinformation’s grip has been moving ahead in one of the nation’s most Trump-friendly legislatures. The transparency-based measure is an interesting but controversial remedy to address two commonly hurled clichés about unpopular election results. First, the bill creates a mechanism for determining whether voters who received a ballot were legal and registered. And second, it would verify if each of the choices on the ballot has been accurately counted.  S.B. 1324 does this by requiring Arizona’s counties to release four essential records used by elections officials soon after Election Day so that anyone can verify the electorate’s legality and the result’s accuracy. Any error or interference, if found, could be quickly evaluated and addressed before the window for a legal recount or election challenge litigation closed. While different states release or sell some of these data sets, most election officials keep these administrative details out of public view. Instead, election managers typically urge voters to trust their oversight. The Arizona legislation could mark a start of changing this status quo.

Full Article: Could Ballot Images Loosen the Grip of Disinformation? | Washington Monthly

Arizona: Cochise County supervisors ordered to pay legal fees in election certification suit | Gloria Rebecca Gomez/Arizona Mirror

The Cochise County supervisors who delayed certification of the November midterms will have to pay more than $36,000 in legal fees, a Pima County judge has ruled. Last year, Republican county supervisors Tom Crosby and Peggy Judd initially refused to certify the canvass of the countywide election results, jeopardizing the state certification process and risking the votes of thousands. To defend their refusal, the two cited bogus allegations that the county’s electronic tabulators weren’t properly certified. Only after then-Secretary of State Katie Hobbs took them to court and a judge ordered them to complete their statutorily mandated duties did they finally certify the results. Afterward, both the secretary of state and the Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans, which joined the lawsuit against Crosby and Judd, filed to request reimbursement of their attorneys fees and court costs. Late Wednesday, Pima County Superior Court Judge Casey McGinley approved part of that request. Secretary of State Adrian Fontes was awarded $13,143, despite petitioning for more than $17,000. The Alliance, which originally filed for more than $34,000 was awarded just over $23,000. McGinley rejected arguments from Crosby and Judd that election lawsuits shouldn’t be subject to attorney fee repayments, and that taxpayers should bear the brunt of the cost, calling their arguments “unavailing.”

Full Article: Cochise supervisors ordered to pay legal fees in election certification suit • Arizona Mirror

Arizona: Kari Lake’s election challenge delayed as court consider sanctions | Stacey Barchenger/Arizona Republic

The election challenge filed by former GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake will extend for weeks more following two court orders Saturday that set schedules to sort out the remaining issues in the case. Last week, the Arizona Supreme Court sent a single claim in Lake’s case — her allegation that Maricopa County’s practice of verifying ballot signatures didn’t follow state law — back to a county judge for reconsideration. That county judge set a schedule to examine the signature verification issue with the possibility of oral arguments this week. Now, those dates are off. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson on Saturday rescinded his order from just days before after the Supreme Court, in its own Saturday order, set a schedule to consider whether Lake should face sanctions for bringing a case that Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs’ legal team has dubbed frivolous.

Full Article: Kari Lake’s election challenge delayed as court consider sanctions

Arizona Supreme Court rejects most of Kari Lake’s election challenge | Stacey Barchenger/Arizona Republic

Arizona’s top court has declined to hear Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake’s challenge to her election loss, but kept the case alive by sending one of Lake’s claims back to a county judge to review. Lake asked the Arizona Supreme Court to consider her case after a Maricopa County judge and state appeals court rejected her claims that she was the rightful governor, or that a new election should take place. The former television news anchor made seven legal claims in her case, six of which the state’s top court said were properly dismissed by lower courts, according to an opinion released Wednesday written by Chief Justice Robert Brutinel. Those included claims that tens of thousands of ballots were “injected” into the election, which Lake called an “undisputed fact” in her lawsuit, as well as alleging that problems with tabulation machines disenfranchised “thousands” of voters. The opinion said Lake’s challenges were “insufficient to warrant the requested relief under Arizona or federal law.”

Full Article: Kari Lake election challenge mostly rejected by Arizona Supreme Court

Arizona bill requires use of only U.S.-built voting machines | Howard Fischer/Arizona Daily Star

Insisting that a “made in USA” label means more security, state lawmakers are moving to require that all election equipment be built only with domestic components and assembled in this country. Only thing is, there apparently are no such machines right now that meet those specifications. So Rep. Steve Montenegro, R-Goodyear, has agreed to craft his legislation so it doesn’t kick in until 2028. And even then, any equipment that counties already have would be exempt. But even assuming a domestic manufacturer could be found by then, that’s just part of the problem. Sen. Ken Bennett, R-Prescott, pointed out that HB 2613 would even preclude a tallying machine from having parts from elsewhere that couldn’t possibly affect the outcome of the vote, like plastic housing.

Full Article: Arizona bill requires use of only U.S.-built voting machines

Could election denialism in a feuding Arizona county upend US democracy? | Rachel Leingang/The Guardian

The 2022 election ended months ago, at least in most of the country. In a rural county on the US-Mexico border in Arizona, though, the election and its fallout linger, causing heated divisions and offering a view into how conspiracy theories could upend elections across the country. While statewide candidates in Arizona who embraced election lies lost their races in November, the election denialism movement hasn’t died off, especially in legislative and local offices, where Republicans continue to push for restrictions to voting and ballot counting that would hinder access and make elections less secure. Fueled by false claims about whether ballot tabulation machines are properly certified or accurate, supervisors in Republican-controlled Cochise county tried to conduct a full hand count of its election results and attempted not to certify the county’s results. Their efforts ultimately failed, but they reveal how election denialism has taken hold in parts of the United States and could continue to wreak havoc on American democracy.

Full Article: Could election denialism in a feuding Arizona county upend US democracy? | Arizona | The Guardian

Arizona bill to enable do-it-yourself election audits sparks rare bipartisan interest | Jen Fifield/Votebeat Arizona

Behind closed doors this month, in a caucus room that typically holds members from just one party, in a state defined by its political divisiveness, a rare bipartisan parley unfolded. State Sen. Ken Bennett paced around the room explaining his idea for a Do-It-Yourself election audit. He wanted to create a path making it possible — though technically difficult — to confirm the validity of election results by precinct, race, or ballot, from the comfort of home. “I just wanted to give people the opportunity to say, do you have trouble with any of that, the underlying concept?” Bennett said. Sitting before him were prominent figures from both political parties, including Democratic Secretary of State Adrian Fontes and Republican state Sen. Wendy Rogers. No one spoke up to object. In a legislative session marked with hostility and party-line votes, this idea from Bennett, a Republican and a former secretary of state, has brought about a rare cross-party dialogue. Both sides set aside their talking points during the meeting, with no emphasis from Republicans on unproven theories of stolen elections, according to video snippets shared with Votebeat, and no stonewalling from Democrats.

Full Article: Arizona Sen. Ken Bennett pushes bipartisan elections bill for do-it-yourself audits – Votebeat Arizona – Nonpartisan local reporting on elections and voting

Arizona attorney general sues Cochise County for giving election skeptic control over elections | Jen Fifield/Votebeat Arizona

Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes is suing Cochise County for giving its recorder near-full control over the county’s elections, according to a lawsuit Mayes filed Tuesday. Mayes believes that, when agreeing last week to give Recorder David Stevens the authority to run the county’s elections, the county supervisors weren’t clear enough that they still have the final say over certain decisions, according to the Arizona Superior Court complaint. State law requires the supervisors to approve decisions such as where to put voting centers and who to hire to work the polls, for example, and they must also finalize election results. In a statement Tuesday, Mayes equated the agreement to an “unqualified handover” that could give Stevens the potential to cloak future changes to the county’s elections from the public. “I am deeply concerned this move might shield or obscure actions and deliberations the Board would typically conduct publicly under open meeting law,” Mayes wrote.

Full Article: Cochise County sued over transfer of election duties to Recorder David Stevens – Votebeat Arizona – Nonpartisan local reporting on elections and voting

Arizona: Finchem sanctioned over ‘baseless’ election suit | Jonathan J. Cooper/Associated Press

An Arizona judge has sanctioned former Republican secretary of state candidate Mark Finchem and his attorney over a lawsuit challenging his loss in last year’s election, saying the suit “was groundless and not brought in good faith.” Finchem’s suit raised unsupported claims that his loss was marred by misconduct and demanded the results be set aside and the election redone. He’s refused to concede to Democrat Adrian Fontes, who took office in January. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Melissa Julian tossed out Finchem’s lawsuit in December. Fontes and then-Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, who is now governor, asked her to sanction Finchem for requiring them to incur the hassle and expense of defending against a baseless lawsuit. Julian said in a ruling dated March 1 that Finchem must pay the reasonable lawyer fees incurred by the Fontes campaign and by the secretary of state’s office, which Fontes now leads. Those costs have not been determined. “Mr. Finchem and bad actors like him cannot be permitted to avoid accountability,” Fontes said in a statement. “He continues to grift off of his broken political agenda using fraudulent schemes that take advantage of Arizonans.”

Full Article: Finchem sanctioned over ‘baseless’ Arizona election suit | AP News

Arizona county that challenged 2022 election gives near full control to election skeptic recorder | Jen Fifield/Votebeat Arizona

Elections in Cochise County will now be run almost entirely by Recorder David Stevens, an election skeptic who has said he does not fully trust all of his county’s election procedures and believes the county can and should move to hand-counting ballots. The Board of Supervisors for the southern Arizona county voted 2-1 on Tuesday afternoon to transfer the board’s election oversight to Stevens, giving up their statutorily-prescribed control over the appointment of the county’s elections director, Election Day procedures, ballot counting and presentation of election results. Republicans Tom Crosby and Peggy Judd voted yes, and Democrat Chairwoman Ann English voted no. The supervisors moved forward despite a warning from the attorney general’s office they received on Monday night, in which the solicitor general wrote that he had serious concerns about the legality of the drafted agreement. “If you are aware of legal authority for the draft Agreement, please promptly provide it to us,” Solicitor General Joshua Bendor wrote.

Full Article: Arizona county that challenged 2022 election gives near full control to election skeptic recorder – Votebeat Arizona – Nonpartisan local reporting on elections and voting

Arizona’s top prosecutor kept private records that debunked election fraud | vonne Wingett Sanchez and Isaac Stanley-Becker/The Washington Post

Nearly a year after the 2020 election, Arizona’s then-attorney general, Mark Brnovich, launched an investigation into voting in the state’s largest county that quickly consumed more than 10,000 hours of his staff’s time. Investigators prepared a report in March 2022 stating that virtually all claims of error and malfeasance were unfounded, according to internal documents reviewed by The Washington Post. Brnovich, a Republican, kept it private. In April, the attorney general — who was running in the GOP primary for a U.S. Senate seat — released an “Interim Report” claiming that his office had discovered “serious vulnerabilities.” He left out edits from his own investigators refuting his assertions. His office then compiled an “Election Review Summary” in September that systematically refuted accusations of widespread fraud and made clear that none of the complaining parties — from state lawmakers to self-styled “election integrity” groups — had presented any evidence to support their claims. Brnovich left office last month without releasing the summary.

Full Article: Arizona’s top prosecutor kept private records that debunked election fraud – The Washington Post

Arizona Court of Appeals rejects Kari Lake’s election challenge | Brian Rokus and Jack Forrest/CNN

The Arizona Court of Appeals has rejected Kari Lake’s challenge to the result of the Arizona gubernatorial election after she appealed an earlier ruling from the superior court. Lake had requested a declaration from the court that she – and not her opponent, Arizona’s Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs who won the election by about 17,000 votes – was the actual winner of the election. “Her request for relief fails because the evidence presented to the superior court ultimately supports the court’s conclusion that voters were able to cast their ballots, that votes were counted correctly, and that no other basis justifies setting aside the election results,” the Court of Appeals decision stated. The appeal rejection marks the latest defeat for Lake, who has continually doubled down on her support for former President Donald Trump and false claims that he 2020 election was stolen, a central rallying call in her 2022 gubernatorial bid.

Source: Arizona Court of Appeals rejects Kari Lake’s election challenge | CNN Politics

Arizona: Cochise County Recorder David Stevens stands to get more power after pursuing illegal hand count | Jen Fifield/Votebeat Arizona

David Stevens had never supervised a ballot count. He didn’t know how he would count nearly 50,000 ballots by hand, who would help, or where he would find enough space to do it. But that didn’t dissuade him. Less than a month before the November election, Stevens, the Cochise County recorder, told the county supervisors he would be happy to try. Arizona GOP leaders had spent two years promoting unfounded claims about compromised vote-counting machines, and were scouring the state for a county that would willingly hand-count ballots. They found it in Cochise County, where Stevens grasped onto the idea, devised a plan, and stoked the sentiment starting to take hold locally. The Republican recorder propelled the proposal to illegally hand count all midterm election ballots, thrusting a rural Arizona county known for historic mining towns and natural beauty into months of chaos, court hearings, and national headlines. Cochise’s two Republican supervisors bore the brunt of the backlash — threatened with jail time and, even now, facing a citizen-led recall effort. But the initial effort would have hit an abrupt stop without Stevens, who mostly remained behind the scenes.

Full Article: Cochise County Recorder David Stevens stands to get more power after pursuing illegal hand count – Votebeat Arizona – Nonpartisan local reporting on elections and voting

Arizona election ‘audit’ full of infighting, deceit, messages show | yan Randazzo/Arizona Republic

Thousands of new documents The Arizona Republic obtained from Cyber Ninjas, the obscure company state Senate Republicans hired to conduct a partisan “audit” of the 2020 election, show the endeavor was fraught with conflict and confusion. The contractors confided they didn’t know Arizona election law when they were hired, struggled to pay bills and raise money, fought over what to report to the Senate, got deeply sidetracked by a film about their effort, and consistently were in touch with people who tried to concoct ways to keep former President Trump in office after his election loss. Among the most revealing details in the new documents are that the lead contractor reached out to people close to Trump to ask for money to conduct the supposedly objective “audit,” and others involved communicated with the former president as well. The Republic and a left-leaning watchdog group called American Oversight sued the Senate and Cyber Ninjas for emails, texts and other communications from the project and have received batches of documents for more than a year. Doug Logan, the CEO at now-defunct Florida-based Cyber Ninjas, which former Senate President Karen Fann chose to direct the work, has continued to fight the release of all of his communications, which a judge said were subject to disclosure. But facing a $50,000-a-day fine imposed more than a year ago, he recently turned over thousands of texts and Signal messages.

Full Article: Arizona election ‘audit’ full of infighting, deceit, messages show

Arizona Republicans try again to force ‘impossible’ hand counts of elections and a return to precinct voting | Caitlin Sievers/AZ Mirror

Arizona Republicans have taken another step in their attempt to completely overhaul elections in the Grand Canyon State, with a proposed bill that would force hand counts in the state’s elections, a practice that elections experts say would be logistically impossible. The measure to ban votes from being counted with electronic tabulators — equipment used in every Arizona city and county, and in virtually every election office across the nation — stems from a demand from constituents requiring hand counts of election results because of their general mistrust of voting machines, said Rep. Cory McGarr, R-Marana. A false belief that electronic ballot tabulators are designed to change votes so Republican candidates lose has become increasingly popular since President Donald Trump lost the 2020 election. Believers in the “Big Lie” that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Trump began demanding hand counts following that election, and this isn’t the first time such a bill has been proposed in the Arizona legislature. Jen Marson, a lobbyist for the Arizona Association of Counties, had a laundry list of questions for McGarr about his House Bill 2307, since it does not include any specifics about how the hand counts would work. McGarr said he didn’t have any suggestions for how to handle the hand count but was sure that the counties could “figure that out.” “This is impossible,” Marson told the committee.

Full Article: Republicans try again to force ‘impossible’ hand counts of elections and a return to precinct voting

Arizona Court of Appeals rejects state GOP party effort to end early voting | Mary Jo Pitzl/Arizona Republic

Arizona’s early voting system is constitutional, the state Court of Appeals has ruled, upholding a popular voting method used widely across the state. The ruling, issued Tuesday, is the second legal defeat on the issue for the Arizona Republican Party and its chair, Kelli Ward, who last year sued to eliminate early voting before the 2022 elections. The three-judge appeals court rejected the party’s argument that mail-in voting violates the secrecy clause in the state Constitution, which requires that voters must have a way to conceal their choices on the ballot. The state’s mail-in, or early voting, process does provide secrecy, the court found, “by requiring voters to ensure that they fill out their ballot in secret and seal the ballot in an envelope that does not disclose the voters’ choices.”

Full Article: Arizona Court of Appeals: Early voting does not violate Constitution

Arizona: 500-vote gap in Pinal County general election count was due to ‘human error’ | Sasha Hupka/Arizona Republic

Three months after a disastrous primary, Pinal County seemed to pull off a smooth Election Day in November. But the county made errors in counting some ballots, officials said as a 500-vote discrepancy between certified election tallies and recounted results came to light on Thursday. “The purpose of a recount is to ensure accurate vote totals are put forth, as it is reasonable to expect some level of human error in a dynamic, high-stress, deadline intensive process involving counting hundreds of thousands of ballots,” county officials said in a statement. “The recount process did what it was supposed to do — it identified a roughly 500 vote undercount in the Pinal County election attributable to human error.” The county, which runs south and east of Maricopa County, is home to about 450,000 residents and has experienced rapid growth in recent years. About 140,000 voters cast ballots there in the November election. The issues don’t change the results of two races — for state attorney general and state schools superintendent — that were recounted statewide because of tight margins. And numerous officials said they believe the recount results are accurate. Still, the newly counted ballots narrowed the lead of Attorney General-elect Kris Mayes, a Democrat, over Republican opponent Abe Hamadeh in one of the tightest races in Arizona history.

Full Article: Pinal County: 500-vote gap in general election count was ‘human error’

Arizona: Why Maricopa County’s ballot printers failed on Election Day | Jen Fifield/Votebeat Arizona

As Maricopa County investigates what exactly caused machines to reject thousands of voters’ ballots on Election Day, a Votebeat analysis of technical evidence found that local officials may have pushed the county’s ballot printers past their limits. The thickness of the ballot paper the county used, the need to print on both sides, and the high volume of in-person voting are all likely to have contributed to poor print quality on ballots, according to Votebeat’s review of printer specifications, turnout data, and interviews with eight ballot-printing and election technology experts. “It was a cascade of events, and once the first domino fell, they were setting the dominos back up while rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic,” said Genya Coulter, a senior election analyst and director of stakeholder relations for election technology and security nonprofit OSET Institute. The poor print quality caused machines to then reject thousands of ballots across the county, forcing voters to instead place their ballots in a secure box to be tallied later. Two technical experts closely familiar with the county’s equipment, who did not want to be named because they didn’t want to get ahead of the county’s public statements, said that the paper thickness was likely a major factor in why the toner — the powder laser and LED printers use to make images on paper — did not properly adhere to both sides of the paper.

Full Article: Why Maricopa County’s ballot printers failed on Election Day – Votebeat Arizona – Nonpartisan local reporting on elections and voting

Arizona: Election in Cochise County is certified after judge’s order | Hansi Lo Wang/NPR

Under a court order, officials in Republican-controlled Cochise County, Ariz., finally certified their local midterm elections results after they missed the state’s legal deadline and put more than 47,000 people’s votes at risk. Ruling from the bench at a court hearing on Thursday, Pima County Superior Court Judge Casey McGinley ordered the county’s board of supervisors to meet and make the results official by 5 p.m. MT Thursday. Two members of the board — Ann English, a Democrat, and Peggy Judd, a Republican — then voted to certify, while the board’s third member — Tom Crosby, a Republican — did not attend the court-ordered meeting. The court order came three days after the board’s two Republicans voted Monday not to certify the results — despite finding no legitimate problems with the counts — turning a usually uneventful step in the election process into a closely watched controversy. The move prompted multiple lawsuits, including one by the state’s secretary of state, who has been waiting for the county’s results to proceed with the statewide certification that is legally required to take place next week.

Full Article: Election in Arizona’s Cochise County is certified after judge’s order : NPR

Arizona county leaders end hand-count lawsuit, cite recount | Bob Christie/Associated Press

Two Republicans who control the board in a rural southeastern Arizona county on Wednesday told a judge they want to withdraw a lawsuit they had filed just two days prior that sought to force their own elections director to hand-count all the ballots cast in-person on Election Day. The court filing and one of the GOP supervisors in Cochise County said they did not want to interfere with the likely recount in the race for Arizona attorney general. Democrat Kris Mayes was leading Republican Abraham Hamadeh by well under the recount margin as of late Wednesday afternoon. The Legislature this year changed the state’s election recount law to greatly increase the threshold for mandatory recounts. It now requires a recount when the candidates are within .5% of each other. In the attorney general race, the trigger is about 12,500 votes. Supervisor Peggy Judd told The Associated Press that she agreed to withdraw the lawsuit against Elections Director Lisa Marra that she and Supervisor Tom Crosby filed on Monday because they did not want to disrupt the statewide recount. That will be triggered once the state accepts the election certifications from all 15 Arizona counties and the statewide vote-totals are accepted.

Full Article: Arizona county leaders end hand-count lawsuit, cite recount – The Washington Post