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Arizona Secretary of State wants investigation into Trump's comments on vote-by-mail

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Posted at 5:37 PM, Aug 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-14 20:37:01-04

PHOENIX — Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs is asking Mark Brnovich to investigate whether President Trump's words or the U.S. Postal Service's actions are attempts to tamper with Arizona's voting by mail. In an email to Brnovich, Hobbs wrote, "I write today to ask that the Election Integrity Unit investigate whether President Trump, and others at his direction, has conspired to violate ARS 16-1003."

Hobbs' request came one day after Governor Doug Ducey downplayed any chance of a slowdown by the U.S. Postal Service to either deliver ballots to voters, or make sure they're returned on time. An estimated 80% of the ballots cast in the primary were vote by mail. "I imagine that the number will be even higher," the governor said of the November election, "but we've put state resources, working with SOS Katie Hobbs to ensure that we have a successful election day."

But the Secretary of State is not as confident. On July 29 she received a letter from the U.S. Postal Service General Counsel warning Arizona's mail in ballot deadlines are incongruous with postal delivery standards. Thomas Marshall said the Postal Service couldn't guarantee a ballot mailed after October 27, a full week before the election, would make it in time to get counted.

"As of right now we're good. The future we don't know because there is a major restructuring at the headquarters level." Joe Cuccinotto is the President of the Phoenix American Postal Workers Union. He says there have been ongoing cuts to overtime and machines that have been taken out of service were replaced by machines that can handle higher volumes of mail. "We just got thru the primary election. We handled over 700-thousand ballots," Cuccinotto said. "Far as I know, they were delivered on time and where they were supposed to go."

The Secretary of State is not so confident. "I think the President has been for a while directly attacking the Postal Service. I don't think that's been a coincidence and at the same time he is attacking vote by mail, he made it real clear yesterday that if the Postal Service doesn't have funding the people can't have vote by mail and that's problematic."

Hobbs is referring to an answer President Trump gave on Thursday when asked about funding the Postal Service. "Now, they need that money in order to have the Post Office work, so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots... But if they don’t get those items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting because they’re not equipped to have it.” The President was quoted as saying.

The suspicion politics may have more to do with the Secretary's request than an actual fear the President is trying to undermine the election was apparent in a statement from the Attorney General's office. "We review every complaint regardless of merit. Confidence in elections is the cornerstone of our democracy. I will continue to protect the integrity of our elections, even when other state officials won't."