Authorities in Maricopa County, Arizona, which is that state’s largest by population, are pushing back on specific lies about the county government’s handling of elections in 2022. These lies have been pushed perhaps most prominently by Kari Lake, the Republican candidate who lost in last year’s race for Arizona governor and is still disputing her defeat in court.
By the time of an earlier trial in Lake’s unfolding challenge, two key claims remained. These contentions hinged on whether intentional misconduct preceded the issues seen on Election Day with the printers producing ballots at polling places and on if the county adhered to rules for the chain of custody for ballots. Among other claims about supposed failures to preserve the legally required chain of custody, Lake presented a witness, whose testimony was buttressed by an affidavit, claiming that staff at a third-party vendor used by the county in processing ballots were able to add ballots from themselves and family members to the count without submitting these votes to the county, through whom verification procedures are completed. There’s simply no real-world evidence that such actually happened. Someone who Lake had on the stand at trial apparently didn’t even claim to have seen such a thing firsthand. They themselves were, rather, a third-party.
“The claim that the Elections Department failed to maintain chain-of-custody for early ballots on Election Day is false. These policies & procedures were followed throughout the early voting period as well as on Election Day,” the Maricopa County Elections Department posted on Twitter this week. The county also has additional information available specifically about this issue online, where officials described some of the basics for the process of how the county handles its ballots. The chain of custody, as it’s known, is critical for establishing that results are being formulated without third-parties meddling with the process.
“The allegation that the County failed to create and produce chain of custody documents for early ballots dropped off on Election Day is false,” the county explained online. “There are robust tracking and security procedures in place to document and ensure proper chain-of-custody of early ballots on Election Day. These policies and procedures were followed on Election Day, as well as throughout the early voting period. In fact, the Maricopa County Superior Court found that at no point during the process were chain of custody policies broken or procedures not followed and documented.” Lake had specifically contested the county’s handling of the documentation required while protecting the chain of custody for ballots.
“Regarding ostensibly missing chain-of-custody documentation, Lake’s evidence was either misdirected (e.g., a witness who reported not receiving certain forms in response to a public records request but who also confirmed that she “know[s] they exist”) or was provided by individuals who were not present or could not see the relevant area,” an Arizona appeals court recently found. Lake also challenged that she needed to show in particularly specific terms how the fraud she claimed was present actually affected the results, instead apparently using the idea the general impression of misconduct was enough for overturning what in reality is the documented will of Arizona voters.
#JustTheFacts The claim that the Elections Department failed to maintain chain-of-custody for early ballots on Election Day is false. These policies & procedures were followed throughout the early voting period as well as on Election Day.
Learn more: https://t.co/ikrMNIueUU pic.twitter.com/hBFG2gqKZa
— Maricopa County Elections Department (@MaricopaVote) February 23, 2023
Image: Gage Skidmore/ Creative Commons