Arizona state senator's lawsuit says rural voters get hosed by Maricopa's 'systemic failures'

Complaint argues that gubernatorial election results in state's largest county should be invalidated.
A 2020 mail-in ballot in Maricopa County

An Arizona state senator is suing over the administration of the gubernatorial election in Maricopa County, arguing that voters in rural Mohave County have been disenfranchised by the issues that plagued the state's largest county on Election Day.

GOP state Sen. Sonny Borrelli, a Mohave County resident, is suing Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, and Maricopa County Director of Elections Scott Jarrett to nullify the Arizona gubernatorial election in Maricopa County.

Borrelli alleges in the lawsuit filed Monday that there were "multiple systemic failures" with how Maricopa County conducted the election, "including the County's improper and unauthorized delegation of its responsibilities to opaque, unproven software programs that improperly but unavoidably influenced the judgment of poorly trained workers tasked with signature verification, in violation of Arizona statutory law."

The lawsuit argues that the artificial intelligence software used for signature verification of mail-in and drop box ballots was "unproven" and then reviewed by "[u]ntrained temporary workers."

Borrelli asks for the software to be declared "impermissible and unlawful" for determining the validity of ballot affidavit signatures. The remedy he is seeking is for the gubernatorial election results in Maricopa County to be invalidated "and/or ... invalidate and set aside all Maricopa County mail-in ballots in the 2022 general election for governor."

Responding Tuesday on behalf of the Board of Supervisors and Jarrett to a request for comment on the lawsuit, a Maricopa County spokesperson said: "The court system is the proper place for campaigns challenging the results to make their case. Maricopa County respects the election contest process and looks forward to sharing facts about the administration of the 2022 General Election and our work to ensure every legal voter had an opportunity to cast their ballot." The same comment was previously given on Friday in response to Kari Lake's and Abe Hamadeh's election lawsuits. 

The Maricopa County Recorder's Office told Just the News on Wednesday that they had nothing further to add to the statement from the Maricopa County spokesperson.

Borrelli's lawsuit comes after two members of the Mohave County Board of Supervisors voted to certify the election "under duress" after being warned that they would "be arrested and charged with a felony" if they didn't, according to the board chairman, Ron Gould.

While Mohave County's own election was problem-free, the board was concerned about the election issues in Maricopa County, said Gould.

Hobbs' office had sent the Mohave County Board of Supervisors an email saying that they could face felony charges if they didn't certify the election.

Gould said that the issues in Maricopa County impacted the voters in Mohave County.

"We believe that Mohave County voters were disenfranchised by the problems that they had in Maricopa County," Gould previously told Real America's Voice TV's "The War Room."

Gould also said he had a lawyer asking Attorney General Mark Brnovich if Hobbs was legally correct in stating that the county board could face felony charges for not certifying the election.

The Borrelli lawsuit follows 2022 general election suits already filed by GOP gubernatorial nominee Lake, attorney general nominee Hamadeh, and GOP secretary of state nominee state Rep. Mark Finchem.

Hamadeh's lawsuit against Hobbs, Hamadeh's Democratic opponent Kris Mayes, and county officials across the state was joined by the Republican National Committee.

Finchem's lawsuit is against Hobbs and Adrian Fontes, Finchem's Democratic opponent in the secretary of state race. Arizona congressional candidate Jeff Zink had joined Finchem's lawsuit, but Finchem announced on Tuesday that Zink was no longer part of it.

Both Lake's and Finchem's lawsuits had hearings on Tuesday, where oral arguments over defendants' motions to dismiss were set for Monday morning for the former and Friday morning for the latter.

Lake asks for the election results in the gubernatorial election to be invalidated and for her to be declared the winner, while Finchem asks that the election results in his race be set aside and ballots inspected to determine which votes are legal before determining the winner. Hamadeh's lawsuit asks for all legal votes to be counted and illegally cast votes not to be counted.

While Lake's and Finchem's respective Democrat opponents in their elections have been certified the winners, Hamadeh's race is being recounted after following within the 0.5% margin of votes that automatically triggers a recount.

At least 72 vote centers in Maricopa County had issues on Election Day, from ballots rejected by tabulators to hours-long lines for voting, according to reporting by Republican election observers filed with the Arizona attorney general's office.

The attorney general's office raised concerns regarding the county's administration of the Nov. 8 election in a Nov. 19 letter to the Maricopa County Attorney inquiring into the widespread irregularities reported in the county on Election Day. The letter gave a deadline of Nov. 28 for the county to respond.

The Elections Integrity Unit of the Arizona AG's Office "has received hundreds of complaints since Election Day pertaining to issues related to the administration of the 2022 General Election in Maricopa County," Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Wright wrote.

"These complaints go beyond pure speculation, but include first-hand witness accounts that raise concerns regarding Maricopa's lawful compliance with Arizona election law," she said.

On Nov. 27, the county replied to the letter, saying that it followed the law on Election Day and the election problems were "regrettable." The county insisted, however, that "every lawful voter was still able to cast his or her ballot."

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors voted to certify its election on Monday, after listening to a flood of complaints from voters regarding issues they experienced trying to vote on Election Day.