Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich released an interim report Wednesday on the 2020 election in Maricopa County, concluding that fraud did occur and uncovering serious issues concerning the handling of over 100,000 mail-in ballots.
Brnovich said in a letter to Senate President Karen Fann that his Election Integrity Office found “instances of election fraud by individuals who have been or will be prosecuted for various election crimes.”
The review is ongoing, so “we are therefore limited in what we can disclose about specific criminal and civil investigations,” he added.
The report did not give an indication of how widespread the fraud is.
The attorney general tweeted that there are also broader systemic problems involving mail-in ballots.
“We can report that there are problematic system-wide issues that relate to early ballot handling and verification,” Brnovich wrote.
I just dropped off our initial review of the 2020 election audit to President Fann.
We can report that there are problematic system-wide issues that relate to early ballot handling and verification. https://t.co/Pgogo9A7uO
— Mark Brnovich (@GeneralBrnovich) April 6, 2022
“The early ballot signature verification system in Maricopa County is insufficient to guard against abuse,” he said in the letter to Fann. “At times workers conducting the verification process had only seconds to review a signature.”
Do you think fraud changed the outcome of the 2020 election?
“For example on November 4, 2020, the Maricopa County Recorder verified 206,648 early ballot affidavit signatures, which resulted in an average of 4.6 seconds per signature,” Brnovich continued.
“There are simply too many early ballots that must be verified in too limited a period of time, thus leaving the system vulnerable to error, fraud and oversight.”
A study released by the Election Systems Integrity Institute last month concluded Maricopa County allowed approximately 200,000 mail-in ballot envelopes with mismatched signatures to be forwarded for counting without further review.
Researchers reported that 11.3 percent of the approximately 1.9 million mail-in ballots should have gone through the curing process (verifying signatures, etc.), rather than the 1.31 percent that did.
The county only sent “upwards of 25,000” ballot signatures for review and ultimately only rejected 587 of those that when through the curing process.
Brnovich’s office also found major chain of custody issues in the handling of mail-in ballots by Maricopa County.
“Our review uncovered multiple violations of ballot transportation procedures,” the attorney general wrote. “Specially, our investigation confirmed that out of 1,895 Early Voting Ballot Transportation Statements, 381 forms or 20 percent were missing required information.
“This included missing audit signatures, missing ballot count fields, missing Election Department receiving signatures, missing courier signatures and missing documentation of security seals and lack of the two required seal numbers,” Brnovich added.
“In other words, it is possible that somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 ballots were transported without proper chain of custody.”
AG Brnovich says 100,000 to 200,000 ballots in Maricopa County broke chain of custody in an election called by 10,457 votes pic.twitter.com/b4oiFk0KNK
— Liz Harrington (@realLizUSA) April 7, 2022
Brnovich also highlighted that Maricopa County has not been forthcoming in turning over all the materials related to the 2020 general election that the AG’s Election Integrity Office has sought despite multiple requests beginning in September 2021 after the Arizona Senate turned over the findings of its audit.
Because of this non-compliance, which the Senate’s auditors also experienced, the AG’s “investigation is still developing in material ways.”
Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates and Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer responded in a joint statement Wednesday, saying, “The Attorney General’s interim report about the 2020 election in Maricopa County includes no new evidence, nothing that would have changed the results and nothing that should lead people to question the overall health of our electoral system.”
“The bottom line: the AG has not identified even a single instance where a ballot was accepted with a non-matching signature (or signature that was later cured),” they added.
— Maricopa County (@maricopacounty) April 7, 2022
Finally, “The Maricopa County Elections Department ensures ballots are tracked and security is upheld,” Gates and Richer said.
Democrat Adrian Fontes, who was the Maricopa County recorder during the 2020 election, accused Republican Brnovich of engaging in politics through the release of the report.
“We can start there by trying to figure out if the attorney general is just using his office to promote his own U.S. Senate campaign,” he said on The Gaydos and Chad Show on KTAR radio Thursday.
“I’m proud of 2020,” Fontes said. “We registered 500,000 more voters in four years. We saw 600,000 more ballots cast in 2020 than 2016. And I made sure that there was more access for more voters, ever.”
“They just don’t like the fact that one guy lost.”
BREAKING NEWS: Arizona Audit w/ @KelliWardAZ
AG @GeneralBrnovich has determined widespread FRAUD in the Maricopa County 2020 election.
— Republican Party of Arizona (@AZGOP) April 7, 2022
Arizona Republican Party chair Kelli Ward responded to Brnovich’s report, saying it is the “first bit of exciting news we’ve been waiting for” since the Senate audit released its findings in September.