Arizona AG reports 'serious vulnerabilities' in Maricopa Co. 'raise questions' about 2020 election

"We can report that there are problematic system-wide issues that relate to early ballot handling and verification," the Arizona attorney general report reads.

Updated: April 7, 2022 - 11:11pm

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich alleges "serious vulnerabilities that must be addressed and raise questions about the 2020 election in Arizona" in a report to the state Senate on the controversial management of the election in Maricopa County, the state's most populous county.

Brnovich, who is running in the GOP primary to take Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly's seat in the U.S. Senate, found "problematic system-wide issues" with early ballots in his interim report, delivered Wednesday to President of the Arizona State Senate Karen Fann (R).

Tweeting out the report on Wednesday, Brnovich wrote, "We can report that there are problematic system-wide issues that relate to early ballot handling and verification."

The problems cited by Brnovich include:

  • election officials having on average less than five seconds to verify early voting ballot signatures;
  • "multiple violations" in the handling and delivery to election offices of about 20% of ballots in drop boxes;
  • almost $8 million in private grant money used by election officials in the vote count, donations which would now be illegal under a recently enacted law.

The attorney general reported that he found it difficult to get county officials to cooperate with his requests for information and revealed that his office's Election Integrity Unit "has uncovered instances of election fraud by individuals who have been or will be prosecuted for various election crimes."

Establishment media outlets are downplaying the findings of the report with headlines like the following:

Brnovich, however, told "Just the News, Not Noise" TV show on Thursday that if people "read that interim report, they will find very troubling aspects of what happened during the 2020 election."

"[F]undamentally, one of the greatest threats to election security and integrity is mail-in ballots and the handling of mail-in ballots," Brnovich said. "And don't just take my word for it. Literally, the worst president in [the] history of the United States before Joe Biden — Jimmy Carter —literally said the same thing, you know, 17 years ago. And it's amazing how now the left and the Democrats don't seem to care about election integrity."

The attorney general was referring to a report by the 2005 Commission on Federal Election Reform, on which former President Carter served. The commission warned that voting by mail "increases the risk of fraud."

Explaining his difficulty prying information from Maricopa County officials, Brnovich cited his lack of civil subpoena power.

"[W]hen the state Senate subpoenaed records from the Board of Supervisors, I was the only official that went into court that supported their right to subpoena records and do their audit," he noted. "And so, I am a big believer in the separation of powers and a big believer in our constitutional framework. And that means that we have to let the different branches of government do their respective jobs."

On Wednesday, Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates and Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer released this statement on the report:

"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.

"We've spent nearly eight months cooperating with the AG's office. Our election professionals have worked day and night to gather the information responsive to both Mr. Brnovich's civil and criminal inquiries, all while running two safe, secure, and accurate jurisdictional elections during that time period.

"The Elections Department provided the Attorney General's Office a list of over 40 staff members that supported signature verification. Yet, the calculation in the AG's letter is based on one staff member working signature verification alone. You can read the document outlining what we provided to investigators here. We have been just as detailed in other responses.

"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).

"The Maricopa County Elections Department ensures ballots are tracked and security is upheld. Our records confirm that tamper evident seals were secured on every drop box. We can account for every ballot that was delivered to the Elections Department, whether it was returned in a drop box, voted in person early, mailed back to us, or voted on Election Day. 

"Unfortunately, the Attorney General made no mention of the many areas of the election process that his investigators reviewed and found satisfactory, including the preservation of election files and the absence of internet connectivity.

"Maricopa County election workers followed the laws as they were written in 2020. If the AG wants different laws, he's welcome to advocate for them."

Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer tweeted a thread on his personal account in response to the report, saying "ok" to most of Brnovich's "suggestions" while claiming the attorney general mischaracterized "our extreme cooperation with AG investigators amidst multiple elections and other audits."

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