Maricopa County GOP Votes to Censure County Officials Over Conduct of 2022 Election, 2020 Audit Noncompliance


The Maricopa County Republican Party voted at their annual meeting earlier this month to censure Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer along with four GOP members of the county’s board of supervisors for the handling of the 2022 general election and their failure to cooperate with the 2020 election audit of the county.

The four censured supervisors include chairman Bill Gates along with Thomas Galvin, Clint Hickman and Jack Sellers, the Arizona Sun Times reported.

The vote to censure resolution passed with 1,460 in favor, 138 against and 36 abstaining.

“The [precinct captains] in Maricopa have spoken, overwhelmingly censuring Richer and the MCBOS, the key line being ‘Ceases immediately any and all recognition and support of the above individuals being censured and encourages all registered Republicans to expel them permanently from office,’” Maricopa County Member-at-Large Brian Ference told the Times.

One lone precinct captain, Kathy Petsas, who rose to question the censuring the officials received “the biggest boos of the day,” Jeremiah Cota tweeted.

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“Censuring has no purpose in this body,” Petsas said. “It does not build our party. It does not gain us more people.”

On the morning of Election Day, Gates with Richer by his side said “about 20 percent” of 223 polling locations were experiencing tabulator problems.

The county later reported nearly one-third of the polling sites, 70 in all, had the problem.

However, Republican National Committee lawyer Mark Sonnenklar testified at Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake’s election challenge trial last month that his team of roving lawyers on Election Day found these problems happened at 132 locations, or 59 percent in all.

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It was subsequently learned the reason tabulators could not read the ballots was the ballot printers at the polling locations had been configured wrong. A cyber security expert testified at Lake’s trial that could not have been an accident.

The misprinted ballots contributed to hours-long lines forming in many polling locations.

In Tuesday’s testimony before the Arizona Senate Committee on Elections, Shelby Busch, with We the People AZ Alliance, said based on log files her group obtained there were approximately a quarter of a million ballot reading errors on Election Day.

Lake has argued that since Republicans outvoted Democrats 3-to-1 on Election Day, what happened was large-scale voter suppression of her supporters.

Lake’s legal team also said the total number of ballots the county reported in the election increased by nearly 25,000 from Nov. 9, the day after the contest, to Nov. 11.

That number is significant because it exceeds Hobbs’ approximately 17,000-vote margin of victory over Lake.

Former Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett told The Western Journal that Maricopa County should have known the total number of ballots on Election Day or certainly by the day after.

Each voting center, he explained, should have reported the exact number of voters and the number of early ballots that were dropped off.

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The county must be able to answer the question, “How many ballots are we responsible for?” Bennett said.

“And it should match up with the number of people who signed in on the voting list or envelopes of the people that mailed theirs in or … dropped them off at voting centers on Election Day.”

Lake’s legal complaint against the county also includes affidavits from three whistleblowers who work for Maricopa County who said that 90 percent of ballots being flagged for signature mismatches did not go through the curing process to verify the identity of the voters.

In October 2021, Republican U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs, whose district is in Maricopa County, pressed county officials at a congressional hearing about their failure to fully cooperate with the audit of the 2020 election.

Biggs asked Gates on why election-related files were deleted from the county server though they were the subject of a senate subpoena.

Gates responded that the files in question were not deleted, but archived.

Biggs then confirmed that the archived files were not turned over to the audit team.

“They did not subpoena those. That is correct,” Gates said.

“OK, so you didn’t feel obligated to turn that over, then?” the congressman queried.

“We responded to the subpoena,” Gates reiterated.

Biggs then turned to Bennett, who was working with the audit team, for his reaction to Gates’ explanation.

“I find it frankly laughable to suggest that a county in response to a subpoena could say, ‘We will delete files from the hard drives and materials that we give to the auditors because we have those files archived on data that we did not give to the auditors,’ when the subpoena said, ‘Turn over all the records related to the election,’” Bennett said.

Then-Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s office issued a report in April 2022 which noted that Maricopa County had not been forthcoming in turning over all the materials related to the 2020 general election that the AG’s Election Integrity Office had sought despite multiple requests beginning in September 2021 after the Arizona Senates submitted the findings of its audit.

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