Republicans Look to November as Concerns Linger over Ballot Tabulation Delays in Arizona

Arizona Republican Party Chair Kelli Ward appeared on Steve Bannon’s War Room: Pandemic Wednesday night to discuss the state’s slow election results.

At that time, only 82 percent of the ballots had been counted, amd Ward leveled blame at Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer. “France can count millions of ballots within hours of their election,” she noted, calling him a “disgrace.” (She retweeted the information about France) Ward said his office announced they would have more results at 7 p.m. from the 125,000 outstanding ballots left from people who had dropped them off at polling locations but never did.

While most counties finished their ballot counts shortly after the polls closed, Maricopa County was one of the slowest to finish, citing ballots that people dropped off at the polls on Election Day, verifying provisional ballots, and handling write-ins. Richer’s Maricopa County Elections Department (MCED) estimated that almost 99 percent of ballots for the county would be tabulated by the end of the day on Friday.

Ward criticized the Republican attorneys working with Maricopa County Supervisor Bill Gates, who declared that the election was conducted with no problems.

“They’re doing us a disservice by stating that everything was fine in Maricopa County. Everything was not fine, we still don’t have results,” she said.

The first ballots counted were mail-in early ballots, which heavily favored Robson. The last batches of ballots that came in all favored Lake. Lake held a significant lead in polls immediately before the election, with Rasmussen Reports showing her up nine points in a poll that was taken July 27-28. However, that pollster was wrong about Arizona in 2020, showing Trump up four points in the state immediately before the election.

MAGA supporters of Lake became extremely concerned Thursday afternoon when Lake trailed Robson in Maricopa County by one point. Maricopa County is where most Republican voters believe voter fraud occurred during the 2020 presidential election. Maricopa County was the only Arizona county to flip in that election; all the other counties voted either their traditional red or blue. Maricopa County usually votes the way the state goes since Democrats trail Republicans by four points for voter registration.

Lake tweeted her concern Thursday afternoon about fences being covered with sheets at Maricopa County Elections’ main tabulation building.

“The fences at MCTEC are being covered up so people cannot watch and see what’s going on. (I told you we have eyes everywhere) We demand transparency. This is not a good look,” she said.

Late Thursday, the Associated Press and The New York Times called the race in favor of Trump-endorsed Kari Lake. This, after the political newcomer’s margin of victory increased to 20,000 – 46.78 percent – to Karrin Taylor Robson’s 44.03 percent. By 1 p.m. on Thursday, there were still at least 242,414 outstanding ballots statewide.

On Election Day, there appeared to be a repeat “Sharpiegate” from the 2020 election. In mid-July, MCED tweeted about offering Pentel markers to use on ballots. A lighthearted “how-to” video showed a voter dancing with a human ballot, which he marked and then held up to a fan to dry.

Voters reported that the markers they were given, instead of ballpoint pens, bled through their ballots. MCED admitted it was a problem but insisted it caused “very limited” problems at polls. Election Director Scott Jarrett said workers would need to examine the county’s tabulators to determine how serious the problem was, which could take more than a week.

Ward blasted the decision to provide markers, tweeting, “Why did Stevie Richer decide to start #Pengate all over again? He KNOWS that people are concerned about election integrity & he KNOWS that voters can vote with whatever tool they choose. He should stop causing unnecessary & ridiculous problems & then pretending to be a victim.”

Trump-endorsed State Senator Wendy Rogers (R-Flagstaff) tweeted, “Why do they always make the ‘pen’ or ‘sharpie’ announcements right before voting instead of giving us a couple weeks heads up? Looks like we need to write pen protections into the law now.”

The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office issued a cease and desist letter to Gail Golec, a candidate for Maricopa County Supervisor who lost, instructing her to stop telling voters to steal the markers from polling locations. Golec denied telling voters to steal the pens, saying she merely told them to bring their own.

She warned, “Felt tip pens cause over votes, which cause adjudication where votes can be changed.” She tweeted, “Intentional Election interference is when a County Attorney writes a C&D about pen replacement on Election Day and ignores the real security breaches and proven data deletion.”

“Sharpiegate” was investigated after the 2020 election by Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who concluded there was no election fraud by handing out Sharpie markers for marking ballots, noting that the problem would have equally affected Democrats and Republicans.

Lake won every county in Arizona. She tweeted on Wednesday, “We’ve got to get our elections reformed so that every Arizonan, whether they be Democrat, Independent, or Republican, when they go to bed on Election Night they know the winner and they’re satisfied that it was a fair election. We don’t have that right now.”

ABC15’s political data analyst Garrett Archer tweeted that the solution lies in changing the laws. “By law they have to start with provisional ballots,” he said. “Those take the most time to research. Law must be changed to quicken the process.” Current law states that provisional ballots must be counted before early ballots are dropped off at the polls, a time-consuming process.

Other significant election problems in Arizona took place in Pinal County, where over 80,000 incorrect ballots were mailed to voters, and several polling locations ran out of ballots on Election Day. Pinal County Elections Director David Frist was ultimately forced to resign. In Maricopa County, ballot envelopes mailed to voters contained a clear window showing the political party on the ballot.

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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].

 

 

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