Nine Arizona legislators held a hearing Monday in the Democratic stronghold of Pima County and Tucson over persistent rumors of election irregularities, including one anonymous allegation that 35,000 fraudulent votes were added to the final tally.
State Sen. Kelly Townsend (R-Mesa) explained why the Pima County election integrity hearing was necessary.
“People ask me, ‘Why are you doing Pima when you’re not done with Maricopa, there’s a lot of work to do.’ Well, we’re all playing whack a mole with all the crazy things they’re throwing at us.” She went on, “The clock is ticking while we’re waiting for the 2022 election.” She explained how the Arizona Legislature must be finished by the end of April for the 90 days to go by until any law can be enacted, in order to be in place for the 2022 primary. “Hopefully we can get a special session instead,” referring to her calls for Gov. Doug Ducey to call one now.
State Rep. Mark Finchem (R-Oro Valley), who is running for Arizona Secretary of State and is endorsed by Trump, began the discussion relaying how the Tucson conference came about. An anonymous person in Tucson sent him an email shortly after the 2020 presidential election stating how he (or she) heard at a Democratic Party meeting on September 10, 2020 how they were going to add fraudulent votes for Democratic candidates. The anonymous person said the Democrats planned the fraud so it would not be spotted, unlike fraud in Maricopa County, by not exceeding the number of registered voters and embedding the extra votes in numbers under 1,000 since 1,000 extra votes would raise red flags.
The Democrats allegedly began doing this in 2014 in judicial retention elections, where they reported much success. It was made even easier since the Pima County Recorder removed information from view that showed precinct overvotes. Finchem said it was brought up to the DOJ, but the Biden administration refused to do anything about it.
Next, Seth Keshel, a former military intelligence officer who analyzes voter statistics, discussed how bellwether states and counties that almost always correctly predict the next president were wrong with Trump. He compared Trump to three other recent presidents who won their presidential primary but lost the general election, and Trump had by far the biggest share of the vote in the primary. He showed how the House elections in 2020 did far better for his party than House races during Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama’s election years; Republicans won 28 of 29 most competitive House seats and didn’t lose a single one.
Then, he showed how the number of votes Trump and Biden received in Arizona was unusually high compared to gains for Democrats and Republicans in previous presidential races. In Arizona, Trump gained 409,000 new votes and Biden gained 510,000. In Pima County, Trump gained 207,000 new votes and Biden gained 304,000.
Perhaps most striking, there were 94,000 new registered voters for the 2020 election, which was twice as many new voters in 2016.
Keshel conducted an investigation on the precinct level and discovered the strange result that Biden made huge gains in areas of Pima County where the demographics had been shifting to Trump.
Next, Doug Logan, the CEO of Cyber Ninjas, the primary contractor who conducted the Maricopa County ballot audit, discussed the security flaws in both Pima County and Maricopa County. He explained that part of the reason ballot fraud investigators have not been able to get to the bottom of signs of fraud in Pima County is because of various restrictions there. Pima County will not allow him to conduct a canvass of voting, and they don’t track whether someone voted in person or by mail.
He addressed a key finding of the Maricopa County ballot audit that Maricopa County has since responded to — an election worker deleted hundreds of thousands of election files. Maricopa County said it was merely an archival process that is done routinely. However, Logan said in previous elections they did not do that. He said Maricopa County has never turned over evidence of chain of custody regarding the ballots.
Logan was full of solutions, recommending one proposed by former Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, who acted as the liaison between the Arizona Legislature and the Maricopa County ballot audit. Bennett suggested setting up a “ballot library” where anyone could compare ballots, and if they found discrepancies they could request additional information to examine them.
Logan said in Maricopa County, election administrators can track votes coming in from the military and others overseas, so he can determine if they register to vote at the last minute — 6:59 p.m. on Election Day. But he admitted the remote process of voting by those overseas — The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act — concerns him.
“The entire UOCAVA process scares me,” he stated.
Logan suggested tying drivers’ licenses to voting registration. That way, voter registration would automatically be invalidated once a person moved to a different state. He said this is a big problem because someone could be hijacking large quantities of “return to sender” ballots — whether an elections official or a mail carrier.
He said Pima County does not use Dominion voting machines, and like Maricopa County, uses its own proprietary election software, unlike the rest of the counties in Arizona. However, he said there are no stark differences between the election software used by major vendors, and all states are vulnerable to fraud here. He defended conducting election audits, saying it doesn’t destroy democracy considering it’s a routine function that financial companies and other companies concerned with security do all the time.
The legislators responded to many of the speakers, often suggesting solutions. Townsend suggested passing legislation to create uniformity among the counties with election software. She also recommended changing the law so the secretary of state cannot certify election results on a whim, but must decertify when certain flaws are discovered.
Some of the legislators wanted to return to voting on paper ballots and ban electronic voting. Most of them appeared in agreement to narrow voting by mail to limited exceptions. Logan suggested making a state holiday for voting in order to make it easier for voters who can no longer vote by mail.
Reyana Elden, a member of the public who has been studying the 2020 election, testified about accreditation problems. She found that two vote testing labs that were used in Arizona had expired certifications for demonstrating compliance with the Help America Vote Act, HAVA. Pro V&V’s accreditation expired in 2017, and SLI Compliance’s expired in 2019. She said after someone pointed this out, election officials produced a certificate of accreditation for SLI Compliance in February 2021, which seemed suspicious since it was signed by the chair of the commission, not the director or acting director as in previous years.
Lisa Budisavljevic, a licensed private investigator, told how she was given walkbooks in Pima County precincts by Dr. Lyle Rapacki, a former detective who has been investigating the 2020 election. She went to 152 addresses to ask residents about 424 ballots associated with those locations. She repeatedly found evidence of previous residents voting in the 2020 election, even though their current residents also did from the same address. The legislators said they intend to follow up and examine signatures on the return envelopes.
Pima County chair Shelley Kais testified about large numbers of people registered to vote at the same handful of addresses in the small towns of Sells and Topawa. Some of it could be explained away since the towns are located on an Indian reservation, so several of them may share a mailbox in the same building. But what didn’t make sense to her was there were far more people registered to vote than their actual populations of eligible voters. Sells has 1,375 eligible voters (18 and over, not felons, etc.) but there are 2,762 registered voters — double the eligibility. A difference that huge cannot be explained away as dead voters still on the rolls or people who have moved away.
Similarly, in Topewa, there are 233 residents, of whom 182 are eligible to vote — but 288 registered voters. She said she will look into how many of them actually voted. She found 68 strange incidents involving more than 16 people registered in the same household. In the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity located on E. 2nd, there are 27 registered voters, but the average age of them is 45, not college age. Two of the Pima County Supervisors voted not to certify the election there.
Alana O’Brien, who worked for the Pima County Republican Party in the signature verification room during the 2021 election, testified that she saw so many questionable signatures verified during her four-hour shift that she lost track of counting them. She brought up that and other issues, such as workers using thumb drives, but the elections officials ignored her and Pima County Elections Director Brad Nielsen struck her comments from the record.
Phil Evans, an electrical engineer who has analyzed election databases and algorithms for 10 years, explained his “fishtail analysis,” which was used by Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai in presenting the results of the Maricopa County ballot audit. Evans found the same results in Pima County. Trump performed poorly in areas with high voter turnout — but Democrat turnout did not increase in those areas. And while Republican ballots increased in those areas, Trump votes decreased 68% to 59%.
James Lombard, who looked into voter fraud with his friend Alan Harwell who unsuccessfully ran for Tucson City Council this year, investigated votes by people who were ineligible to vote. After talking to election officials, he found that they actually were eligible, the records from the Pima County Recorder were wrong. The explanation can be found in the “change notes,” which only officials have access to. He said over 12,000 records have change notes, and suggests trying to obtain them.
Other legislators who participated included Sen. Sonny Borrelli (R-Lake Havasu), Sen. David Gowan (R-Sierra Vista), Rep. Wendy Rogers (R-Flagstaff), Rep. Leo Biascelli (R-Lake Havasu), Rep. Judy Burges (R-Prescott), Rep. Teresa Martinez (R-Maricopa), and Rep. Neil Carter (R-Casa Grande) .
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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]
Background Photo “Voting Booths” by Tim Evanson. CC BY-SA 2.0.