Three Arizona counties reportedly did not perform the hand count audits required by state law after November’s midterm elections.
Arizona election law requires a hand count audit to ensure the accuracy of the ballot tabulating machines.
“At least two percent of the precincts in that county, or two precincts, whichever is greater, shall be selected at random from a pool consisting of every precinct in that county,” the statute at issue reads.
The Arizona Daily Independent reported that Apache, Graham and La Paz counties did not perform the mandated audits.
Apache favored the Democratic candidate in the hotly contested governor’s and attorney general’s races, while Arizonans in Graham and La Paz counties voted in greater numbers for the Republican candidates.
The Independent noted that “a county’s elections director cannot conduct a hand count audit unless the county chair of each recognized political party on the ballot designates that party’s participants. If the names are not provided prior to Election Day, no hand count is permitted under state law.”
In all three counties in question, the hand count was not done because at least one party did not designate participants.
Republican consultant Constantin Querard told the Independent, “The law as written also should be changed, because right now either party could thwart the process by not sending volunteers, and the process shouldn’t be held hostage by either party. The public deserves these hand counts.”
Thank you to the hand count boards appointed by the Maricopa County political party chairs, who worked over three days to complete the hand count audit:
✅Sat: 52 Reps, 35 Dems, 3 Libs
✅Sun: 55 Reps, 27 Dems, 3 Libs
✅Tues: 31 Reps, 25 Dems, 1 Lib pic.twitter.com/yQbRq4g906
— Maricopa County Elections Department (@MaricopaVote) December 13, 2022
Querard suggested the law should be changed to allow county recorders to hire voters who are registered with a party that does not provide representatives.
“Then send the bill to the county party organizations to pay. That will incentivize them to provide volunteers the next time,” he said.
The revelation of hand counts not being performed in three counties comes after a recount in Pinal County, which favored the Republican candidate in the governor’s and attorney general’s races, showed 507 ballots had not been tallied during November’s election.
Pinal County finds 100s of uncounted ballots cast for @AbrahamHamadeh.
Katie Hobbs has known about the votes since 12/22 (during the @KariLake trial)
This is insane! https://t.co/SDd49Eiwae
— Republican Party of Arizona (@AZGOP) December 29, 2022
The recount resulted in Republican attorney general candidate Abe Hamadeh cutting Democrat Kris Mayes’ lead in the race from 511 to 280, according to The Arizona Sun Times.
Our race was already the closest in Arizona history at 511 votes. The results of the recount showed the largest discrepancy in recount history reducing the margin to 280.
Closest race, largest discrepancy – it’s okay to ask questions. In fact, democracy demands it.
— Abe Hamadeh (@AbrahamHamadeh) January 5, 2023
Geraldine Roll with the Pinal County Attorney’s Office told VoteBeat’s Jen Fifield that she believes some of the errors in vote counting occurred “because of paper jams or other problems that were not properly handled by the workers who were running the machines.”
Hamadeh and the Republican National Committee refiled an election challenge on Tuesday of Mayes’ win, citing what happened in Pinal County. They also pointed to ballot printer issues revealed during GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake’s trial in late December, according to the Times.
An Arizona judge dismissed Hamadeh’s suit last month, concluding there were not enough problematic votes in question to overcome the presumption the election was done correctly.
In his motion for a retrial, Hamadeh’s legal team stated, “To be clear, Contestants seek an accurate vote total — nothing more, nothing less.”
They noted, “The hand counts in both Yavapai, Gila, Pima and [Santa Cruz] Counties also suggest tabulators failed to count all votes in the Attorney General’s race.”
They concluded, “Contestants simply ask that we be given the opportunity to apply the Pinal County process across the board to conduct a physical inspection and hand count of ballots that — if the Pinal County issue repeats itself anywhere else in the State — could be outcome determinative in this election.”