On Friday, the Arizona State Senate released the final reports on the results of the Maricopa County Forensic Election Audit. While the reports made several significant findings supporting former President Trump’s complaints about the 2020 election, the corporate media ignored those aspects of the audit to focus instead only on the results of the hand recount.
As broadly reported, the audit established “there were no substantial differences between the hand count of the ballots provided and the official canvass results for the County.” Maricopa County, which represents Arizona’s most populous county thanks to its county seat of Phoenix, had provided Biden a 45,000-vote advantage in the state, propelling Biden to a victory by 10,457 votes. So the media presented the recount as confirming Biden’s victory in the state.
Left unmentioned, however, were the numerous findings of problems with the election and, most significantly, evidence indicating tens of thousands of ballots were illegally cast or counted. A report entitled “Compliance with Election Laws and Procedures,” issued by Senate Audit Liaison Ken Bennett, highlighted several issues, of which two were particularly significant because of the number of votes involved.
First, Bennett excerpted the Arizona statutory provisions governing early ballots. Those provisions require early ballots to be accompanied by a signed affidavit in which the voter declares he is registered in the appropriate county and has not already voted. The statute further mandates that a voter “make and sign the affidavit,” and directs the early election board to check the voter’s affidavit.
Significantly, “if the affidavit is insufficient, the vote shall not be allowed.” The secretary of state’s Election Procedures Manual reinforces this point, stating: “If the early ballot affidavit is not signed, the County Recorder shall not count the ballot.”
In his report, Bennett noted that “while the Audit scope of work did not include comparing signatures with voter registration records for each voter, it did identify a number of missing signatures on ballot envelop affidavits, which to the extent the ballots in such envelopes were tallied, would violate the above statutes and procedures.”
Although Bennett did not elaborate on the issues related to affidavit signatures or the numbers of affected ballots, in a 99-page report, Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineer Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai detailed numerous anomalies.
First, Ayyadurai analyzed the early voting ballot return envelopes, on which voters were required to sign an affidavit within a signature block. That review revealed more than 17,000 duplicate images of the return envelopes. When the duplicates were eliminated from the review, Ayyadurai’s company, EchoMail, concluded that Maricopa County had recorded more than 6,545 early voting return envelopes than EchoMail determined existed. EchoMail also concluded that another approximately 500 of the envelopes’ affidavits were left blank.
Ayyadurai also highlighted several implausible statistics, such as that while there was a 52.6 percent increase from 2016 to 2020 in the number of early voting ballots, Maricopa County reported a decrease in signature mismatches of 59.7 percent. “This inverse relationship requires explanation,” the report noted, and then recommended a full audit of the signatures.
Bennett’s report on election law compliance highlighted several additional issues, but of particular note, in light of the audit report, was his reference to Arizona’s statutory requirements for individuals to be considered eligible voters, as delineated in Articles 1, 1.1, and 2 of the Arizona election code.
“The Audit identified numerous questions regarding possible ineligible voters,” Bennett noted, while adding that because “these determinations were made from comparisons between the County’s final voted information and private data sources,” the cooperation of Maricopa County and further investigation would be necessary to “determine whether ineligible persons actually were allowed to vote in the 2020 election.”
The referenced articles of the election code discuss voter registration requirements and the requirement for individuals to be registered to vote at their address of residence, although individuals moving within 29 days of the election remain properly registered to vote in the county in which they previously resided. However, students, members of the military, and others temporarily living at another address remain properly registered at their permanent home address.
Also of significance is the Arizona secretary of state’s Election Procedures Manual, which according to the audit provides that “ballot-by-mail must be mailed to voters by first-class, nonforwardable mail.”
These statutory provisions and procedures prove significant because the audit revealed that 15,035 mail-in votes in Maricopa County were from voters who had moved prior to the registration deadline, another 6,591 mail-in-votes came from voters who had moved out of Arizona prior to the registration deadline, and 1,718 mail-in votes came from voters who moved within Arizona but out of Maricopa prior to the registration deadline.
One of three scenarios seems possible here: First, the mail-in ballot was delivered to the old address and then provided to the named voter, who had only temporarily relocated. Such votes would be legal and entirely proper.
Second, the mail-in ballot was delivered to the old address and then provided to the named voter, who had permanently moved, but failed to timely update his registration record yet signed an affidavit attesting to a false address of residence. Such votes would be illegal.
Or third, the mail-in ballot was delivered to the old address, and then someone other than the named voter cast the vote. Such votes would be both illegal and fraudulent.
Neither Maricopa County nor the state of Arizona knows how many of these 23,000-plus votes fall within each of these three scenarios. And that’s a problem.
As I wrote when similar problems, albeit with more conclusive evidence, were unearthed in Georgia, “Elections are too tight and the populace too divided for ‘close enough for government work’ to cut it anymore. The American voting system must be reformed to ensure security, transparency, replicability, and election officials’ uniform compliance with state election law.”
Sixteen years ago, both Democrats and Republicans would have agreed on these goals, as the bipartisan Commission on Federal Election Reform’s report “Building Confidence in U.S. Elections” confirms. That commission, co-chaired by Democrat Jimmy Carter and Republican James Baker III, spoke of “the administration of elections as a continuing challenge, which requires the highest priority of our citizens and our government.”
Unfortunately, rather than acknowledge the problems the Maricopa County audit revealed and rise to the challenge of ensuring they are not repeated, while also investigating areas of potential fraud and illegal voting, Democrats and some Republicans pretend the hand recount’s confirmation of the official vote tally ends the matter.
The corrupt press likewise pushes this narrative: The audit confirms Trump lost, and that is all there is to the matter.
But this isn’t about Trump, just as the 2005 report on building confidence in American elections wasn’t about Al Gore. This is about election integrity and our democracy because, as the commission wrote not even 20 years ago:
The vigor of American democracy rests on the vote of each citizen. Only when citizens can freely and privately exercise their right to vote and have their vote recorded correctly can they hold their leaders accountable. Democracy is endangered when people believe that their votes do not matter or are not counted correctly.
The Arizona audit ended nothing including, sadly, the view held by half of our country that their votes do not matter and are not counted correctly—and that many politicians and members of the press don’t care.