Wednesday, Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer testified at the election challenge trial of Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake that individual polling places did not collect the complete number of votes cast in the midterm elections, an apparent violation of state law.
Bryan Blehm, an attorney for Lake, inquired of Richer if the county was aware of the total number of ballots cast on Election Day.
One of the claims in Lake’s complaint is that the total number of ballots recorded by the county in the election jumped by roughly 25,000 between November 9 and November 11.
This number is notable since it surpasses Katie Hobbs’ roughly 17,000-vote victory margin over Lake.
“On Election Day it would’ve been easy for you to figure out how many ballots you received,” Blehm said to Richer.
He responded, “Well, we had to get them all in and it was quite a process throughout the night.”
Blehm interjected, “You can look at the forms and add the numbers. Correct?”
“They’re not counted at the individual loading locations,” Richer said. “They are counted when they get back to MCTEC and then they are recounted at Runbeck.”
Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center is located in downtown Phoenix, and Runbeck is the county’s vote processing and scanning provider.
“Does anybody know when those ballots leave the voting centers how many are in the bins?” Blehm asked.
“When the early ballots leave the voting centers, no, they are not counted at the voting centers,” Richer answered.
“Does anybody know when those ballots leaving the voting centers, how many are in the bins?”
This is a MAJOR problem!
Maricopa County Recorder admits chain of custody is totally meaningless, they can magically say how many ballots appear at central tabulation facility pic.twitter.com/WIJr7tS7Zx
— Liz Harrington (@realLizUSA) December 21, 2022
The Arizona Republican Party tweeted in response, “Maricopa County admits they do NOT count ballots at vote centers (which is required by State Law).”
— Republican Party of Arizona (@AZGOP) December 21, 2022
The 2019 Arizona elections processes handbook, citing state law, demands an audit of the total number of ballots cast at each polling place. The results of the vote must be documented in an official ballot report.
Even accounting for the whole number of ballot stock paper on-site is required by the audit. The cast ballots must then be sealed in boxes.