On the heels of great controversy surrounding the recent special election in Texas, which involved thousands of uncounted ballots and the resignation of Election officials, the Arizona State Attorney General is ordering Maricopa County to produce mail-in ballot signature files.
Conservative Republicans assert there is a tie between problems in the 2022 special election and the 2020 presidential election.
A study by Election Systems Integrity Institute (ESII) found that the “Maricopa County, Arizona, mail-in ballot signature verification process used during the 2020 general election was deeply flawed,” according to the Western Journal.
The non-partisan study, coordinated by systems engineer Shiva Ayyadurai, concluded Maricopa county allowed approximately 200,000 ballot envelopes with mismatched signatures to be forwarded for counting without appropriate review.
In September, The Western Journal noted that Ayyadurai reported preliminary findings to the Arizona Senate, but no action was taken at that time.
However, the recent ESII’s findings prompted the Arizona Attorney General’s Office to send a letter to the Maricopa County recorder and the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors requesting voter signature files.
Jennifer Wright, the Arizona Assistant Attorney General with oversite of the Elections Integrity Unit, noted that to address the issues raised by the ESII report, the Attorney General’s office requested “copies of all the signature exemplars in the voter’s registration file.”
Wright also requested information on the procedures used to verify signatures.
On Sunday, Republican National Spokesperson Liz Harington tweeted a comment by Arizona Senate President Karen Fann, who is angry at the seeming pattern of compromised election integrity. Fann, a Republican, commissioned the Maricopa County 2020 general election audit, wrote, “What are they hiding now?”
Adding to the confusion, earlier this month, Ayyadurai told The Western Journal that county officials did not submit signature files to the Senate as requested. Their failure to do so prompted ESII to conduct an independent signature verification study by matching 2,700 ballot envelope signatures against those on file with the Maricopa County Recorder of Deeds. This sampling study projected significant failings in the system.
However, Megan Gilbertson, Communications Director for the county’s Elections Department, contradicted Ayyadurai’s claim that signature files were not turned over to the Senate.
In a Thursday email to The Western Journal, Gilbertson wrote: “Voter signatures and ballot envelopes are not public record. We have not released this protected voter information to any organization other than the Arizona Senate as required.”
ESII researchers reported that 11.3 percent of the approximately 1.9 million mail-in ballots should have gone through the curing process, meaning more than 215,000 needed to be cured. However, county election officials are vaguely stating that “upwards of 25,000” were identified by Maricopa County officials as needing review.
“So, the bottom line is,” Ayyadurai said, “that if you’re doing curing, that means for every cured envelope, there should be the verified and approved [one]. That’s what they’re saying,” he added.
“Which means you should know exactly how many were cured. Why did [they] say, ‘Upward of 25,000’? Because we found out exactly 17,126 were duplicate images, that means we definitively know how many were cured. Why isn’t the county saying exactly how many were cured?”
Maricopa County election officials report they rejected only 587 ballots of those that went through the curing process. That number, according to Ayyadurai, is markedly too low.
On Monday, Former President Donald Trump posted a statement on Save America platform: “Arizona Senate President Karen Fann is asking the exact right question about the corrupt Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, ‘What are they hiding now?'”
Citing what he referred to as Arizona’s “disgusting refusal” to turn over documents, Trump said, “Now is finally the time for the Arizona Attorney General to issue warrants and take his investigation to the next level.”
“The American people deserve answers, and there is no time to waste!”