Arizona’s Maricopa County to Investigate Election Day Printing Issues

Arizona’s largest county is launching an investigation into the issues that led to the chaos on Election Day.

The investigation will be “an important step in our efforts to get to the bottom of printing issues that affected some vote centers on Election Day last November,” said Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates, and Vice President Clint Hickman in a joint statement Jan. 6.

Voters across the county found their ballots unable to be processed by machines in the 2022 midterm elections, a problem that led to long lines at polling places and workers having to tabulate the most recent votes. late. At least 70 of the county’s vote centers were affected, with some 17,000 ballots. Maricopa County was one of the last to deliver in the midterm elections.

During a trial in a lawsuit filed by Kari Lake, the Republican Party candidate for governor of Arizona, a cyber expert who examined the ballots said he found 19-inch images printed on 20-inch paper. Clay Parikh, Northrup Grumman’s chief information security officer, said the printers were not processing the 19-inch images.

Parikh said there were only two ways for the situation to come about.

“One is by changing the printer settings, which would make the printer settings and settings override the image file that was sent, and the other is from the application side, the operating system side,” Parikh said. .

County officials said they were not aware of the county using 19-inch images and claimed the printers were set to print 20-inch ballots. They have denied accusations that the problems stemmed from intentional actions.

Richard Baris, a pollster, testified that the problems disenfranchised enough voters to influence the election. Republicans vote far more on Election Day, while Democrats favor early and mail-in voting. Democrat Katie Hobbs defeated Lake by 17,117 votes, according to official election results.

Arizona Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson, who oversaw the trial, ultimately dismissed the case, saying he had not been presented with convincing evidence of misconduct. Subsequently, the Arizona Supreme Court denied a motion to transfer the lawsuit, meaning the appeal will proceed to the state’s appeals court.

The new investigation will be led by Ruth McGregor, former Chief Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court. McGregor has led investigations in the past, including an investigation into problems with cell door locks at state prisons.

McGregor will hire a team of independent experts “to find out why printers that read ballots well in the August primary had trouble reading some ballots while using the same settings in the November primary,” Gates and Hickman said. “Our voters deserve no less.”

Officials previously said that the printer settings were the same for the August primary and November general election, and that the paper was the same thickness.

A poll worker sorts ballots at the Maricopa County Election and Tabulation Center in Phoenix, Ariz., on Nov. 9, 2022. (John Moore/Getty Images)

electoral task force

Gov. Hobbs, for her part, announced Friday an election task force that she said will advise officials on improving elections.

The task force will “study and make recommendations to strengthen election laws, policies, and procedures in the state of Arizona,” a statement said. executive order de Hobbs.

The entity will be chaired by the Governor or a designee and will include Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes, a Democrat, or his designee; a county recorder nominated by the president of the Arizona Senate; a county recorder nominated by the speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives; and two election directors elected by the Arizona Association of Election Officials.

The task force was directed to submit a report to Hobbs by November 1, 2023, identifying specific recommendations for lawmakers to improve the state’s election laws, including recommendations to ensure “consistent election administration and voter registration practices.” , safe and accessible throughout the State”.

Hobbs said Arizona’s elections “are fair, safe and free,” but that “more can be done to strengthen and clarify the laws surrounding Arizona’s democratic process.”

Lake said the task force would be “cover” unless it investigated the issues in Maricopa County, including 19-inch images printed on 20-inch paper.

Fontes said he looked forward to working with Hobbs to make sure the task force “is built to be successful” and suggested it would help improve voter confidence.

With information from Allan Stein.

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