PHOENIX — A lawsuit filed by the Arizona GOP arguing for another hand-count audit of ballots in Maricopa County has been dismissed.
This was the first year Maricopa County implemented a "vote center" model for a general election. The system gives voters more access and ease to voting, allowing voters to vote in person at any vote center, rather than having to report to locations in their assigned precinct.
The ease also allows for a different system when auditing votes after Election day. Officials sort ballots by vote center, rather than precinct to conduct an audit.
While it's a first for Maricopa County, other Arizona counties have been doing the same for nearly a decade.
Yavapai County shifted to the vote center model in 2012, and worked with the Secretary of State's office to implement procedures within the state's 'Elections Procedure Manual' to ensure audits still fell within state statute.
Hand count audits aren't mandatory, but they are a helpful process that checks that tabulation machines used to count ballots were accurate. Political parties conduct the physical hand count audit. Each party assigns a number of representatives to randomly pick either 2% or at least two vote centers or precinct, whichever is greater, to compare a manual count of ballots done by volunteers to the count completed by tabulation machines.
Maricopa County reported a 100% match after auditing four vote centers during their audit process, completed by an equal number of Republican, Democrat and Libertarian groups.
Still, Arizona Republicans argued the process should be re-done, and ballots sorted by precinct, rather than vote center, despite the county switching to the model.
Attorneys for Maricopa County worried a ruling in favor of the GOP would cost more taxpayer money, and risk putting the county behind on its timeline to report results to the Secretary of State's office.
Republican Party of Arizona Chairwoman Kelli Ward released the following statement after receiving the written order from Maricopa County Superior Court Judge John Hannah Jr.:
“This election has been fraught with tension as voters were forced to adjust to new election procedures put in place because of COVID-19, as well as organized efforts by Democrats across the country, which helped lead to a wildly different voting process than in years past. Here in Arizona, we have identified problems in our own process where the will of a Democrat Secretary of State is being substituted for the black letter law passed by the State Legislature.
“Our most recent lawsuit sought judicial clarification on the question of whether the Secretary of State’s Elections Procedures Manual would be allowed to supersede state statute. Unfortunately, this ruling instead makes clear to Arizonans that they must ensure that this issue is addressed with new legislation that clearly outlines the parameters in which the Secretary can and cannot impose their own interpretation of our laws in the future.
“Arizona voters deserve to have complete trust in their election procedures. They should also have supreme confidence that only legal ballots were counted in the 2020 election. Failure to address their concerns actively harms our state and our nation. Because of this, I stand by my call for a full hand-count audit of our state’s election results.”
On Thursday afternoon, Senate President Karen Fann today announced the Senate Republican Caucus is setting up a special email account to gather documented proof of voting irregularities in the 2020 General Election in Arizona. Officials sat the email will be "live" until November 27, 2020, so Arizona residents who have firsthand knowledge of possible fraud can detail their accounts
To report evidence of fraud or any other voting irregularities, residents should send a detailed description to email@example.com. Please include name and contact information so those looking into the incident can follow up. The Senate President will monitor the reports as they come in and gather all evidence before the election canvass, which is set to take place on November 30, 2020.