Lake lawyer exposes possibility Maricopa County staff could perform signature verification at home

Lake's legal team called its last two witnesses on Thursday.
Former Arizona Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake speaks during the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center on March 4, 2023 in National Harbor, Maryland.

Kari Lake’s legal counsel on Thursday exposed the possibility that Maricopa County staff could perform signature verification at home in questioning Maricopa County Elections Director Rey Valenzuela about the Arizona's 2022 gubernatorial election results.

Valenzuela testified in Lake's election challenge trial that "it’s not a protocol" for county staff to perform signature verification from home, but that "admin could log into our network."

His testimony was in response to questions by Lake’s legal counsel Bryan Blehm  about whether county employees could remotely perform signature verification from their computers at home.

"We do have remote capabilities for several of our staff admin, and I can log into my PC, but it is not a set standard or protocol to do so for signature verification," Valenzuela said.

Thursday is the second day of the three-day trial.

On Wednesday, Valenzuela testified under direct examination by Lake’s legal counsel that county election officials can verify signatures in their offices without observers present, though observers are allowed to be in the general areas where signature reviewers examine signatures at the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center.

"Maricopa County employees can log into the county system and perform signature verification from home, correct? Yes or no?” Blehm asked.

“As a protocol, not a standard," Valenzuela responded. "Yes, could the clouds cover the sky and make systems go down? We could have a lot of that. But technically, admin could log into our network.”

“And conduct signature verification from home?" Blehm queried.

“It’s not a protocol that we have established for that," Valenzuela answered.

On Wednesday, Jacqueline Onigkeit and Andrew Myers, each level 1 signature reviewers for the 2022 primary and general elections in Maricopa, testified as witnesses for Lake about their experiences as temporary election workers.

They each said that while they worked long hours and on weekends during the 2022 primary election to verify signatures, they didn’t work as long in signature verification during the week or on the weekends for the general election, even though there were more ballots in the November election.

Earlier this month, the Arizona Supreme Court ordered court proceedings to take place "forthwith" regarding Lake's claim the county violated its signature verification practices in last year's general election. The court granted one sanction against her legal team but denied the attorneys' fees that defendants had requested.

Lake fell about 17,000 votes short in the official count for the 2022 gubernatorial election against then-Secretary of State Hobbs.

She is suing Hobbs, the current Democratic governor, in addition to current Secretary of State Adrian Fontes (D) and Maricopa election officials, requesting the results be invalidated or that she be declared the winner.

Last week, Lake's team requested that the court review another count in her original lawsuit that was dismissed regarding illegal configurations of ballot tabulators and ballot-on-demand printers, but that motion was denied on Monday. The court also rejected the defendants' request to dismiss the case.

Maricopa County previously told Just the News, "The Maricopa County Recorder's Office remains confident in its signature verification process."