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Maricopa County Whistleblower Reveals Problems Found on Ballots During Curing: ‘How Did This Happen?’

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Wednesday, a whistleblower testified at the election challenge trial of Arizona Republican Kari Lake regarding problematic practices Maricopa County officials employed during the mail-in ballot voter verification process.

According to the official tabulation, Democratic Governor Katie Hobbs won the election by approximately 17,000 votes, or 0.7% of the more than 2.5 million ballots cast statewide. However, Lake disputes the legitimacy of tens of thousands of these ballots.

In Maricopa County, ballots rejected by Level 1 reviewers are forwarded to Level 2 reviewers, who either determine that the signatures match and transmit the ballots through for counting or determine that the signatures do not match and attempt to contact the voter to validate identity. This is known as curing.

The whistleblower testified that, in the days following the election, the county refused examiners’ offer to correct ballots with mismatched signatures.

“We didn’t understand why we were leaving early when there was ballots left in the bins. And we had asked the manager, ‘Are you sure that you wanted us to go home? Would you like us to, you know, keep trying to call these voters to get these ballots cured?’ And they said, ‘no,’” she recalled.

In addition, the whistleblower testified that she and her fellow Level 1 evaluators were sent home early despite the county’s need to verify and tally an enormous number of ballots.

Votes were counted after hours at the county recorder’s office, but evidently without observers present.

“We thought it was odd,” she said, “because we had observers that were constantly watching what we were doing, but there was, I’m assuming, no observers there. Who was watching what they were doing?”

The whistleblower also noted as reviewers were doing their job, “We were catching signatures of individuals, they didn’t even belong in the history, meaning say it’s a John Smith, and it was a woman’s name or, and this wasn’t a married couple. This was completely different names.”

According to her, the evaluators were instructed to disclose these significant discrepancies to their supervisors.

The whistleblower said they asked their supervisors, “How did these even possibly get into the history? They’re not even the same, they’re not the same name, they weren’t a relative. How did this happen? The addresses were different. Everything.”

Wednesday, Lake attorney Kurt Olsen informed Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson that an examination of county data revealed that at least 334,000 mail-in ballots were not verified.

“Maricopa’s own log data shows that over 264,000 ballots were reviewed [for vote signature matches] at a rate less than 3 seconds [and] 70,000 at a rate of less than 2 seconds,” Olsen said.

“In addition, testimony that Level 2 reviewers were so overwhelmed that they simply didn’t look at the signatures that were piling up on their desk. They simply kicked them back for the Level 1 reviewers to take another look at,” the lawyer said.

VoteBeat Arizona journalist Jen Fifield reported in March, based on numbers she received from the county, that in the 2022 general election, “workers marked 18,510 signatures as ‘non-matching,’ and of those, 15,411 voters confirmed it was their ballot, or ‘cured’ their ballot. That led to 3,099 rejected for bad or missing signatures. Of those, 1,299 were missing signatures and 1,800 were bad.”

A total of approximately 1.5 million ballots were cast in Maricopa County in November.

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