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Fact-checking the Maricopa County Election Audit: 37,739 problematic voters

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Posted at 5:59 PM, Sep 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-27 19:21:28-04

PHOENIX — The Maricopa County election audit claimed that there were numerous issues with 37,739 registered voters in the county during the 2020 election. So how did they come to this conclusion and is it accurate?

For their analysis, the audit used publicly available voter files that they received from the county as part of the subpoena.

They bounced the data off Mellissa Data, a well-known, commercial data warehouse that combines government data such as the US Postal Service’s National Change of Address and the Social Security Administration’s master death list with other private sources.

FULL COVERAGE: Arizona 2020 election audit

They are looking to match county registration data to find people that may have either moved or died, but this presents a problem from the start.

Public voter files in Arizona only contain the name, address, and year the person was born. This makes for a very weak match to other databases that would, at the very least, require a full date of birth. In a state with over 4.3 million active voters, there is a very real risk of false positives, two people with the same name and birth year. The audit report confirms that around 86,000 voters could not be matched to Melissa Data.

But even if the match is completely reliable… there are still issues.

There are two findings in the report marked “critical”; 23,344 people that the audit says voted from prior addresses and 10,342 potential voters that voted in multiple counties.

ABC15 provided a random sampling of the underlying data that the audit report used to make these claims.

Both reached the same conclusions. Most of the samples were false positives, meaning the person had the same name and birth year, but had a different driver's license and social security number on file.

They said there was no evidence of people voting in multiple counties.

The Secretary of State’s Office, which manages the state’s centralized voter registration database said that several of the people accused of voting in multiple counties voted legally in Maricopa County and moved to a different county. Due to how the database works, the fields that indicate the person voted in 2020 is carried over to their new county. If the audit had access to the centralized database, they would have been able to verify this.

Maricopa County told ABC15 that they are dedicating three staff members to check all 37,739 voters the audit flagged. They do not know when the project would be complete, but they said they are confident that no widespread issues will be found.