The Maricopa County Election was "materially afflicted with certain errors and inaccuracies in the management of some polling place operations and in the processing and tabulation of some ballots," according to Abe Hamadeh's lawsuit filed on Tuesday, Nov. 22. Hamadeh, the Republican candidate for Arizona Attorney General, lists many of the procedural and machine-related issues detailed in a letter sent by Arizona's Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Wright on Nov. 19. His allegations also parallel many of the same eyewitness accounts being reported by UncoverDC and the Kari Lake campaign in a lawsuit of her own. Lake says this is not her "main lawsuit," but she wants answers from Maricopa County. Hamadeh and the RNC seek to "judicially remedy" the canvassed returns to more accurately reflect "the will of the electorate."
Hamadeh clarifies he is not "by this lawsuit, alleging any fraud, manipulation other intentional wrongdoing that would impugn the outcomes of the Nov. 8, 2022, general election." With the votes allegedly fully counted and tabulated, Hamadeh and his opponent Kris Mayes are currently separated by "just 510 votes out of more than 2.5 million ballots cast—a margin of two-one hundredths of one percent (0.02%)." Due to the slim margin, an automatic recount of the race has already been triggered.
Chaos at the Vote Centers
By almost all accounts, the Maricopa County election was plagued with confusion about rules, errors by poll workers, abnormally long waits, printer and tabulator malfunctions, and improper chain of custody—especially concerning "Door #3" (Door 3) ballots. Allegedly over 62 percent of the voting centers experienced significant problems, according to a summary written by roving attorney Mark Sonnenklar. Contrary to public statements from Chairman Gates, who said the problem was more limited in scope, tabulators rejected ballots all day long at many vote centers. In some cases, ballots were rejected at rates of 100 percent at the "initial insertion of the ballot." Sonnenklar observed "on average a failure rate of 25% to 40%.
Many voters allegedly gave up and left. Others stayed and attempted to scan their ballots multiple times. In some cases, voters were given the option to spoil their ballots and start over; in others, the inspectors told them to merely drop their misread ballot into Door 3. Voters expressed concern their Door 3 ballots would not be counted. At the end of the day, many of the Door 3 ballots were improperly placed in the black duffle bags reserved for voted ballots in contravention of the rules in the instruction manual given to all poll workers. Door 3 ballots were supposed to be placed in the blue bin. As a result, it is possible those ballots were co-mingled and, therefore, never tallied.
The Core of Lawsuit: Material Inconsistencies in Treatment of Voters
At the core of his lawsuit is the premise that there were allegedly material inconsistencies in how certain voters were treated, resulting in potential unequal treatment and the disenfranchisement of voters in violation of the Equal Protection Clause and HAVA. Hamadeh alleges that the Recorders and Boards of Supervisors in 15 counties have "in at least five respects" disenfranchised or suppressed the votes of certain voters in Maricopa County. The five counts cited related to the "erroneous count of votes and election board misconduct" include:
- Wrongful disqualification of provisional and early ballots.
- Wrongful exclusion of provisional voters.
- Inaccurate ballot duplications.
- Improper ballot adjudications.
- Unverified early ballots.
Specifically, the lawsuit alleges numerous issues with the Nov. 8 election, among which were; provisional ballots which were "improperly disqualified" due to poll worker error, errors in the duplicating of certain ballots, cases where some voters were not able to cast a provisional ballot, improper adjudication of certain voters' ballots, and certain early ballots where signatures did not match the signature on file. In other instances, voters were encouraged to remedy the situation by using the accessible voting device (AVP) to complete and cast their ballot. The lawsuit explains in detail the various allegations concerning the potential disenfranchisement and suppression of certain voters of Maricopa County.
As a result of the long waits at most of the vote centers, instructions were given to some voters to spoil their voted ballot and go to another poll for tabulation. Not all poll workers were trained to check out the voter by "indicating on the e-pollbook that the voter left the polling location without casting a ballot." As a result, many voters were told to return to their initial vote center because they had already checked in at another poll but were not properly checked out to indicate they had voided their initial ballot. The poll books are networked and connected to avoid duplicate voting. In the case of the voter who failed to be properly checked out, "she or he will be permitted to cast only a provisional ballot, which Maricopa County will not tabulate. See ARS. § 16-584(D)."
The lawsuit states that "at least 146 voters" were not properly checked out and told to cast a provisional ballot. At least 273 voters "had their early ballots voided and not tabulated" because their votes were "erroneously recorded in the e-pollbook as having already voted." According to the lawsuit, many others "were denied an opportunity to cast a provisional ballot at all."
The lawsuit states Chairman of Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Bill Gates was at the same time tweeting instructions to "go to a nearby voting center," a "materially misleading" statement because he did not explain the checkout process. (See Exhibit A) County Recorder Stephen Richer also tweeted similar instructions; however, he clarified the proper checkout procedure.
Hamadeh Calls for Amendments to Canvass
Hamadeh is requesting an amendment to the canvass as a result of errors and misconduct on Nov. 8. He also requested a reduction in the "tabulated returns of early ballots to exclude early ballots that were accompanied by an uncured affidavit signature that is inconsistent with the signature on file in the putative voter's registration record." The lawsuit asserts Secretary of State Katie Hobbs should set aside and nullify "any certificate of election" issued by the Secretary of State to his opponent and instead declare and certify Hamadeh as "elected to the office of Arizona Attorney General."
One of the more contentious matters in the Maricopa County election is the claim that Republicans were disproportionately affected by the problems at the vote centers, mainly because many more Republicans vote on election day. There has also been a great deal of discussion over the proper certification of the machines. Two men who appeared during public comment in the Nov. 17 Maricopa Board of Supervisors hearing explained why the election should not be certified based on machine certification alone.
Certification: Arizona Canvass is Nov. 28
Most counties in the state have already certified their elections. The certification deadline is Monday, Nov. 28. Cochise and Mohave counties have delayed their certification until the deadline. Chairman Gates announced the count has been finished, and the canvass will be completed Monday with "no delays or games." Maricopa County's Board of Supervisors plans to meet at 9:30 a.m on Nov. 28. Hamadeh's election contest hearing has been set for 2 p.m. on the same day.