Arizona GOP AG candidate tells court all votes weren’t counted

PHOENIX – The apparently losing candidate for attorney general is asking a judge to block the secretary of state from declaring Kris Mayes the winner.

Legal papers filed Tuesday in Maricopa County Superior Court by Republican Abe Hamadeh claim there were a series of mistakes and illegal actions in the general election that resulted in some people's votes not being counted and others miscounted.

What makes all that important, according to attorneys for Hamadeh and the Republican National Committee, is the final tally shows Mayes ahead by just 510 votes out of more than 2.5 million ballots cast. And that, they contend, is enough to change the outcome.

Hamadeh and the RNC are careful to say they “are not, by this lawsuit, alleging any fraud, manipulation or other intentional wrongdoing that would impugn the outcomes of the Nov. 8, 2022 general election.

But they say the other issues, including “errors and inaccuracies” in how some polling places were managed, coupled with problems in processing and tabulation of some ballots, makes these issues “material in the race for attorney general.” And they cite a provision of the Elections Code which they say requires a judge to remedy any problems “and the declared result conforms to the will of the electorate.”

So they want Maricopa County, where most of the issues arose, to have to go back and count certain “provisional” ballots.

These were given to people who checked in at the first polling place where they showed up but did not cast a ballot there because of problems with printers and tabulation equipment.

But when they went to a second site they were given provisional ballots based on electronic poll books showing they had voted at the first site because poll workers there never checked them out. And based on that, those provisional ballots were never counted.

The lawsuit says there are at least 419 that fall into this or a related category dealing with early ballots.

Potentially more significant, the lawyers say “a material number” of people who showed up at a second location were turned away based on the poll books showing they had voted at the first site.

The lawsuit asks the judge to give anyone in this category a “reasonable opportunity” to cast a ballot, with those results made part of the final tally.

Attorney Kory Langhofer said this is more than an academic legal exercise.

“After the court has reviewed the five errors explained in the filing, Hamadeh expects to be ahead in the tabulation,” he told Capitol Media Services.

GOP officials contend that members of their party are more likely to have waited until Election Day to vote rather than cast an early ballot. If that contention proves true, that could mean those uncounted provisional ballots and the votes from people turned away on Election Day are more likely to swing in Hamadeh's favor.

There was no immediate response from Maricopa County officials to the lawsuit.

Not all the claims have to do with the problems encountered by voters in Maricopa County where malfunctioning machines precluded voters from having their ballots immediately tallied on site.

The lawsuit also names the recorders and supervisors in the other 14 counties. There, the allegations surround ballots that, whether damaged or defective, could not be read or interpreted by the tallying machines.

In that case, the attorneys say, each county is supposed to form a “ballot duplication board” of at least two members who are not of the same political party to transpose the voter's indicated choices onto a new, duplicate ballot. But the lawsuit claims that some were not properly reproduced.

Closely related are charges that a separate “electronic adjudication board” studying what might be conflicting marks on a ballot did not handle them as required by law, resulting in errors in the final count.

And then there are allegations that some early ballots were counted even though the signature on the envelope did not match the person's voter registration record.

The lawyers said that election officials made the decision to count those ballots because the signature matched some other record, like an early ballot affidavit submitted in connection with a previous record or a signature on the roster of a poll book.

That apparently is allowed under the state's Elections Procedures Manual. But the lawsuit claims that is not permitted under state law which the attorneys say supersedes the manual.

No date has been set for a hearing.

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