If New Mexico Democrats Get Their Way, Even Felons Will Be Voting By Mail

If New Mexico Democrats Get Their Way, Even Felons Will Be Voting By Mail

After scoring significant victories in the 2022 midterms, New Mexico Democrats are off to the races in their bid to completely overhaul the state’s future election administration.

In the state legislature, where Democrats enjoy majorities in both chambers, several leftist House representatives have introduced legislation that seeks to enshrine numerous Democrat-favorable voting policies into law. If successfully passed and signed by Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, the newly proposed bill (HB 4) would expand mail-in voting — the least secure and most unreliable form of voting — throughout the state.

Buried within HB 4 are provisions allowing for the development of a “voluntary permanent absentee voter list,” where county clerks “automatically send a mailed ballot to the mailing address listed on [a voter’s registration certificate] each time there is a statewide election that includes [his or her] precinct.” This absentee voter list mirrors lax no-excuse absentee voting and “indefinite confinement” rules that Democrats popularized around the country under the guise of the Covid “emergency” to the detriment of election integrity.

The bill would furthermore require counties to have at least two ballot drop boxes within their jurisdiction, with the measure allowing county clerks to request more from the secretary of state.

But New Mexico Democrats’ election takeover doesn’t stop at mail-in voting. Under the bill, convicted felons would be permitted to register to vote after getting out of prison but before completing parole or probation.

“During the reentry phase of an inmate’s sentence, if the inmate is a voter or otherwise a qualified elector, the inmate shall be given an opportunity to register to vote or update an existing registration by means of a transaction with the motor vehicle division of the taxation and revenue department prior to the inmate’s release from custody,” the bill reads.

Under existing New Mexico law, convicted felons “must complete probation or parole before registering to vote again,” according to the Albuquerque Journal.

Also included in the measure are changes creating an automatic voter registration system at the state’s driver’s licensing agency, as well as at other state and local government departments.

A similar version of the legislation was introduced during last year’s legislative session but was filibustered by state Senate Republicans. Given that the state’s 2023 session will be twice as long as last year’s, it seems probable the bill will pass.

In predictable fashion, legacy media outlets have gone out of their way to run interference for New Mexico Democrats by classifying HB 4 as a “voting rights” bill. On Wednesday, Daily Kos writer Stephen Wolf penned an article saying the legislation was designed to “broadly protect and expand voting rights in the state.”

The Albuquerque Journal’s Dan McKay used similar language, whining about how New Mexico Senate Republicans “killed election legislation at the Roundhouse in the final hours of last year’s session.”

Shawn Fleetwood is a Staff Writer for The Federalist and a graduate of the University of Mary Washington. He also serves as a state content writer for Convention of States Action and his work has been featured in numerous outlets, including RealClearPolitics, RealClearHealth, and Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @ShawnFleetwood


What Did Election Integrity Laws Achieve In 2022? New Report Details What Worked And What Didn’t

What Did Election Integrity Laws Achieve In 2022? New Report Details What Worked And What Didn’t

In the interim between the major 2022 and 2024 election cycles, Republican lawmakers are focusing on how they can strengthen election laws to ensure key federal and state races are conducted securely and fairly. A new report released by the House Election Integrity Caucus highlights the successful election integrity reforms made this past cycle and makes future recommendations for policymakers.

“A look at what went right and what went wrong in election administration is the first step to securing our elections and restoring voter confidence,” Rep. Claudia Tenney, R-N.Y., told The Federalist. “The Election Integrity Caucus’ 2022 Midterm Review is a look at the positive efforts of states like Georgia, Texas, and Florida, which are working to implement policies that promote fair, free, and transparent elections. It is also a look at what went wrong in states like New York and California, which implemented policies that encouraged chaos at the ballot box and undermined voter confidence.”

Tenney launched the House Election Integrity Caucus in 2021 to restore “faith in the democratic process,” especially as Democrats tried to diminish and destroy safeguards for administering elections through bills such as HR 1, which sought to federalize American elections, or the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which would overturn voter ID requirements.

The report documents several election integrity laws recently passed by Georgia, Texas, and Florida that strengthened the security of each state’s election process. Georgia’s SB 202 strengthened voter ID requirements and banned the private funding of elections. Despite Democrats’ characterization of the bill — which also expanded early voting — as “Jim Crow 2.0” and other slurs, the report notes that Georgia experienced “historic early turnout that rivaled presidential cycles,” especially among minority voters.

“The Lone Star State gets five stars for election administration!” the report declares, noting that Texas’ SB 1 gave poll watchers more access to “salient aspects of the elections process,” in addition to legalizing ballot curing.

The report also highlights Florida’s SB 90, which strengthened voter ID requirements, barred unsolicited mail-in balloting, and prohibited “ballot harvesting by political operatives.”

“Between Hurricanes Ian and Nicole, Florida organized and executed a safe and secure midterm election,” the report reads. “Preliminary numbers have Florida turnout of over 7.5M or 49.3% of their voting-eligible population.”

Next the report details problematic election-related legislation passed by both New York and California. New York’s SB 1046 is a state version of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, requiring “covered jurisdictions” to “preclear” any changes to election-related laws or policies that could potentially have a disparate impact on racial minorities. In California, automatic mail-in voting was established via AB 37, making California a permanent mail-in ballot state.

The report ends with several recommendations for policymakers on the national and state level, including strengthening photo ID requirements, maintaining accurate state voter rolls, ensuring Election Day does not become “Election Month,” and passing the American Confidence in Elections Act, “a comprehensive legislative package that would provide states with tools to boost election integrity, prohibit non-citizens from voting, ban Zuckerbucks, and end Biden’s Executive Order 14019 turning federal agencies into partisan get-out-the-vote operations.”

While the work of the House Election Integrity Caucus has just begun, Tenney told The Federalist she “applaud[s] the work of the legislatures, chief election officers, and executives who [before the 2022 cycle] got it right by prioritizing election integrity — guaranteeing our elections are secure by making it harder to cheat and more accessible by making it easier to vote.”

Victoria Marshall is a staff writer at The Federalist. Her writing has been featured in the New York Post, National Review, and Townhall. She graduated from Hillsdale College in May 2021 with a major in politics and a minor in journalism. Follow her on Twitter @vemrshll.


McDaniel vs. Dhillon: RNC Candidates Weigh In On Election Integrity

McDaniel vs. Dhillon: RNC Candidates Weigh In On Election Integrity

With one day left before Republican committee members decide who will lead the national party into 2024 and beyond, the party’s two frontrunners, incumbent Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel and California lawyer and RNC committeewoman Harmeet Dhillon, must make their case for why they are uniquely suited for the job. While many issues plague the national party, there is one item both candidates must wrestle with: election integrity.

For almost 40 years, the RNC was unable to oversee poll watcher operations or litigate elections due to a 1982 consent decree. In 1981, Democrats accused Republicans of voter intimidation in a New Jersey governor’s race. The case was settled after the GOP agreed to a court-ordered consent decree limiting Republican involvement with any poll-watching operations. Little did Republicans realize that Dickinson Debevoise, the Jimmy Carter–appointed judge behind the consent decree, would prove to be such a partisan; he never let the GOP out of the decree, and repeatedly altered and strengthened it at Democrats’ request. After Debevoise formally retired from the bench, he stayed on for 21 years in senior status, a form of semi-retirement allowing judges to keep serving in a limited capacity, and kept enforcing the decree. Only after Debevoise died did an Obama-appointed judge let the agreement expire at the end of 2018.

As a result, the Democratic National Committee had an almost four-decade advantage over the GOP. After spending a few years building out and developing poll-watching infrastructure since the consent decree was lifted, McDaniel told The Federalist the 2022 midterm was the first election cycle in which the RNC could fully operate. But in a recent op-ed for The Daily Wire, Dhillon blamed party insiders for using the consent decree as an excuse “for complete legal inaction on just about every front.” 

Some major GOP donors are putting their money behind Dhillon as they lobby for new leadership of the RNC, after McDaniel’s three consecutive terms as chair of the party.  Despite some influential support for Dhillon, McDaniel remains likely to be reelected after an endorsement letter signed by 107 of the 168 members of the RNC was circulated last month. 

Still, the incumbent chairwoman isn’t taking any chances. During an interview with The Federalist, McDaniel repeatedly praised and defended the RNC’s record in the past election cycle, while also offering next steps for the party regarding election integrity. “We had three million more Republicans turn out than Democrats,” she noted. 

Dhillon also spoke with The Federalist and talked about what has to change on the state and national level regarding the GOP’s election efforts.

Election Integrity Must Be a Year-Round Operation

Back in August 2021, after the RNC’s Committee on Election Integrity released a report on the comprehensive changes made to voting procedures in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the RNC announced a “year-round election integrity operation” would be created. This included hiring in-state election integrity directors, training poll watchers, and engaging in election-related litigation. 

But according to a letter sent to the RNC by the grassroots-organized Election Integrity Network, after the 2022 midterm elections, all state election integrity directors and field staff were terminated as of Dec. 15. While McDaniel reinstated four of the state election integrity directors after EIN officials expressed their concerns, those familiar with the matter say this is a symptom of a larger problem within the RNC: namely, that the RNC treated its election integrity division as a seasonal political operation, meaning any election integrity staff would be terminated after the election cycle was completed. 

“Going forward, the RNC’s Election Integrity staff must be exempt from the layoffs to which RNC political staff are subject after every election,” the EIN coalition wrote. 

In her Daily Wire op-ed, Dhillon wrote that the RNC’s election integrity operations were “a seasonal, vestigial effort grafted onto a political department itself staffed largely with less-experienced political operatives in the 2022 election cycle. And most of these operatives — even the handful of experienced ones – were laid off after election day, frittering whatever knowledge we had gained in this emerging field.” 

When asked about the RNC firing the in-state election integrity directors, McDaniel disagreed with Dhillon’s characterization that the RNC’s election integrity teams were treated as seasonal employees. “There is some attrition after an election and people move on. But Josh Findlay [the national election integrity director] was running our office and continued to run our office. We are keeping those election integrity directors — some of them, not all of them. There is always a little ramp down after an election, but our election integrity program has never stopped,” she said. 

As RNC chair, Dhillon said she would invest in a year-round Election Operations Department to help the party adapt to the post-2020 voting environment. 

McDaniel also said moving forward she would create a “standalone department for election integrity.” During the 2022 cycle, election integrity operations were housed between the legal and political divisions of the RNC.

“I think, to be more successful going forward, it should just be its own standalone department,” McDaniel said.

Litigate, Litigate, Litigate

The past midterm election cycle was the most litigious in RNC history. A representative for the RNC told The Federalist the GOP had engaged in 91 election-related lawsuits alone, and McDaniel repeatedly praised the RNC’s litigation efforts, citing many examples of how the national party’s legal presence impacted races across the country. “In Virginia alone, we had 500 lawyers on the ground and a war room of 30 lawyers triaging issues in real time,” she said. 

“The RNC has never done this before,” McDaniel declared. “And I put our investment and our resources to the test. But we did it. And everyone should be pleased with the results.” 

While Dhillon acknowledged the RNC’s expanded litigation efforts, she emphasized that the RNC is not doing enough and needs to be spending double what it currently does. Dhillon noted that during the past cycle, the RNC declined to file lawsuits over budget constraints.

“Democrats have really downgraded the integrity of our elections through litigation,” Dhillon told The Federalist. “We have not met or matched that at all, and we have to start playing catch-up.” 

In the past election cycle, Dhillon observed, the RNC took a mainly defensive posture. “We intervened in a portion of the lawsuits filed by the Left, both for the RNC and on behalf of state Republican parties. We filed amicus briefs in litigation initiated by others. What we did not do is initiate much of our own litigation, put the Left on its heels, or leave any lasting marks on our opponents,” she wrote in The Daily Wire.

Because of the consent decree, Dhillon added, there is a critical shortage of GOP election lawyers, so the RNC must focus its resources on finding, funding, and training them so as to be competitive with their Democratic counterparts.

As RNC chair, Dhillon would allocate more resources to funding litigation — particularly offensive litigation. 

“We need to be filing lawsuits in blue states, and in red states where Democrats have successfully bastardized our election laws,” Dhillon said. “Right now, if I were RNC chair, I’d be working with the Arizona GOP to recall the Board of Supervisors in Maricopa County for violating the civil rights of hundreds of thousands of voters in their state by failing to properly test vote center equipment and train election workers.”

Building a Lasting Election Integrity Infrastructure

Building a year-round election integrity operation will take more than just doubling down on litigation efforts, however. 

Dhillon told The Federalist the RNC must invest significant resources in beating the Democrats on early voting. Now that Election Day has turned into ‘election week’ or ‘election month,’ Republicans must invest in personnel to chase early votes and cure ballots in states that allow for early voting. 

“In California, we’ve mastered it,” Dhillon said. “In targeted congressional races where every vote is going to matter, we go and chase those ballots and get signatures fixed with paid and volunteer staff doing it. That’s done with really no training input from the RNC and frankly, the RNC has shied away from talking about these issues because a lot of our Republican activists are opposed to early or mail voting in any form.”

As RNC chair, Dhillon said she would also bring that model to the rest of the country. “With a relatively small investment in the relevant states, we can initiate and track Republican vote-by-mail applications, outgoing ballots, and returns,” Dhillon wrote. “We can train volunteers in ballot harvesting to do it transparently and ethically wherever it’s legal.”

When asked about the RNC’s ground game, McDaniel said the RNC must focus on engaging communities that have historically voted Democrat. In the last election cycle, the RNC made inroads with black, Hispanic, and Native American voters through its establishment of 38 community centers across the country, according to a representative of the RNC. 

“The first office we opened was in Michelle Steel’s district in Little Saigon in California — one of the most diverse districts in the country, and a D+7 district,” McDaniel said. “And that engagement with the Vietnamese community sustained for over a year was a difference maker, and you can talk to Michelle about it. These are the types of things the RNC must be doing long term.” 

Cleta Mitchell, a senior legal fellow at the Conservative Partnership Institute and founder of the Election Integrity Network, told The Federalist that winning elections isn’t just about how you collect votes.

“It’s about matching what the left has done in terms of building an infrastructure,” Mitchell said, mentioning, among other things, Democrats’ well-funded programs to register thousands of college students to vote every year.

“There’s just a complete cultural difference,” Mitchell said. “And nowhere is this more evident than the RNC putting its election integrity unit within the political division and then firing everybody six weeks after the election as though they were seasonal campaign operatives.”

What’s Next

It is ultimately up to the 168 national committee members to decide who they want as chair. While both candidates are strong leaders, they both acknowledge much has to be done on the election integrity front, including recruiting poll watchers and workers, dealing with ballot harvesting and turnout operations, as well as litigating election cases. 

Regardless of who wins on Friday, both candidates agree the culture of the Republican Party must shift to focusing on the entire election process, whether it is passing strong legislation, cleaning state voter rolls, embracing (or rejecting) new technology, or investigating error-ridden voting systems. The GOP is likely to go on offense and take an aggressive approach to litigating the country’s election processes, just like their Democratic counterparts. Now it’s up to the Republican committee members to decide who will be leading the charge on election integrity in the next presidential election.

Victoria Marshall is a staff writer at The Federalist. Her writing has been featured in the New York Post, National Review, and Townhall. She graduated from Hillsdale College in May 2021 with a major in politics and a minor in journalism. Follow her on Twitter @vemrshll.


Vermont Supreme Court Upholds Noncitizen Voting

Vermont Supreme Court Upholds Noncitizen Voting

The Vermont Supreme Court ruled Friday that noncitizen residents in its capital city of Montpelier may continue to vote in municipal elections. The court argued that allowing noncitizens to vote does not violate the state Constitution because citizenship requirements only apply to federal elections.

“The statute allowing noncitizens to vote in local Montpelier elections does not violate Chapter II, § 42 because that constitutional provision does not apply to local elections,” the Supreme Court wrote.

In 2018, the city of Montpelier voted to allow noncitizens to cast votes in local elections if they were in the United States legally. In 2020, the city of Winooski did the same. In 2021, the Democrat-controlled Vermont legislature approved such changes to both city’s municipal charters, over Republican Gov. Phil Scott’s veto. As a result, the Republican National Committee filed two lawsuits asking judges to declare noncitizen voting unconstitutional in those two cities.

While federal law prohibits noncitizens from voting in federal elections for races such as the U.S. Senate or House of Representatives, several jurisdictions across the country, including San Francisco and multiple towns in Maryland, allow noncitizens to vote in municipal elections.

Such a system can cause chaos in local election offices and their administration of elections, as city clerks would have to keep two sets of voter rolls and put in place procedures to distinguish who can and cannot vote in an election that has both federal and local offices on the ballot. This would muddle already messy state voter rolls, especially at a time when confidence in American elections is at an all-time low.

Colorado offers a warning to state and local jurisdictions looking to adopt noncitizen voting. During the November midterm elections, the secretary of state’s office erroneously sent out 31,000 postcards to foreign nationals on how to register to vote (for both municipal and federal offices) in the Nov. 8 election. This was the result of a mismanagement oversight with the state’s voter rolls.

Other problems associated with noncitizen voting include disenfranchising actual citizens, and as previously reported, a ploy by Democrats to expand their voter base.

While blue cities such as New York, Boston, and Washington, D.C. are all looking at implementing noncitizen voting, Louisiana and Ohio became the latest of eight states that have passed laws banning noncitizen voting in municipal elections.

Victoria Marshall is a staff writer at The Federalist. Her writing has been featured in the New York Post, National Review, and Townhall. She graduated from Hillsdale College in May 2021 with a major in politics and a minor in journalism. Follow her on Twitter @vemrshll.


Republican Candidates For Arizona Governor And AG Appeal Election Integrity Challenges

It’s no secret the conduction of the 2022 midterm election in Maricopa County, Arizona, was a complete disaster. From misconfigured printers producing faulty ballots to long waiting lines, the list of problems witnessed throughout Arizona’s most populous county is seemingly endless.

And while the state’s Democrat victors have since been sworn into office following the certification of the 2022 election results, that hasn’t stopped Arizona’s GOP gubernatorial and attorney general candidates — Kari Lake and Abraham Hamadeh — from trying to achieve some form of accountability given the untold number of voters disenfranchised on Election Day. Despite a media blackout and a string of legal defeats, the two Republicans are still seeking legal remedies for the myriad issues that plagued the 2022 contest.

Governor’s Race

After having her lawsuit struck down in Maricopa’s Superior Court late last month, Lake has filed separate appeals with an appellate court and the Arizona Supreme Court. The former has since agreed to expedite her case to be heard before judges on Feb. 1.

In her suit, Lake alleges the tabulator problems Maricopa voters experienced on Election Day were “the result of intentional action” and that there were widespread failures by Maricopa election officials in maintaining chain-of-custody records for nearly 300,000 ballots, as required by Arizona law.

On Election Day, Maricopa poll workers at roughly 30 percent of the county’s voting centers began reporting that their respective vote tabulation machines were rejecting voters’ ballots, resulting in long wait times and widespread confusion among voters and election workers alike. Then-Secretary of State Katie Hobbs’ margin of victory over Lake was about 17,000 votes.

[READ: Maricopa County Made Arizona’s Elections Even More Of A Disaster Than People Realize]

During the case’s two-day trial last month, Lake’s legal team sought to prove the vote tabulators’ refusal to accept ballots stemmed from an intentionally misconfigured printer setting that didn’t comport with the size of the ballot paper. According to American Greatness, Lake’s lawyer’s claimed that after “a review of random ballots,” they discovered “that 48 out of 113 (42.5 percent) were ’19-inch ballots produced on 20-inch paper,’ causing them to be rejected.” Clay Parikh, a cybersecurity specialist and witness summoned to examine the ballots by the Lake campaign, cast doubt on the notion that such a scenario was accidental.

“I’ve reviewed the evidence, and the printers are configured via script, which by any large organization that has to do multiple systems is the standard,” Parikh said, responding “no” when asked if the alleged incorrect printer configuration could have happened “by accident.” “It takes away the human error of somebody miscoding in the instructions on the printer.”

Separately, though Maricopa County maintains it followed state law, court testimony and eyewitness reports from Lake’s trial allege that Maricopa County violated it by “failing to implement chain-of-custody documentation for Election Day ballots.” As The Federalist’s Staff Writer Victoria Marshall previously reported, an employee for Runbeck Election Services, which served as Maricopa County’s ballot tabulation vendor, says they received seven truckloads of Election Day drop box ballots hours after polls closed on election night that allegedly did not come with proper chain-of-custody forms.

“Arizona law requires the county recorder to show the origins and chain-of-custody documents for every drop box ballot obtained,” Marshall wrote. “According to Runbeck employee Denise Marie, Maricopa County violated state law by not counting and not recording the number of ballots retrieved from each drop box and transferring an unknown quantity of ballots from [the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center] to Runbeck with no chain-of-custody documentation. Because of this failure, no records exist to dispute or reconcile the discrepancy between the number of ballots Runbeck first reported (263,379) and its final tally (298,942).”

As part of her suit, Lake asked the court to vacate the certification of the 2022 gubernatorial contest and require Maricopa County to re-conduct another election “in conformance with all applicable law and excluding all improper votes.”

Despite numerous sworn affidavits and testimony from witnesses and election experts, Maricopa Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson ruled that the “Court DOES NOT find clear and convincing evidence of misconduct” with respect to claims regarding intentional altering of printer settings and improper chain-of-custody documentation. As Marshall reported, Thompson rejected arguments over the latter “due to [Maricopa County’s] assertion that such chain-of-custody documents exist, even though it failed to produce them.”

Attorney General’s Race

Hamadeh’s legal fight for election integrity is moderately different from Lake’s. In his original lawsuit, which was heard in Mohave County Superior Court last month, Hamadeh alleged numerous counts of illegal activity by Arizona election officials, including “wrongful disqualification of provisional and early ballots,” “exclusion of provisional voters,” and “inaccurate ballot duplications.”

“The [2022] election … was afflicted with certain errors and inaccuracies in the management of some polling place operations, and in the processing and tabulation of some ballots,” the suit reads. “The cumulative effect of these mistakes is material to the race for Arizona Attorney General…”

Similar to Lake’s initial legal efforts, Hamadeh’s case was struck down, with Mohave County Superior Court Judge Lee Jantzen ruling that Hamadeh’s team didn’t meet “the burden” of proof with respect to his claims.

While the state’s initial results of Hamadeh’s race against Democrat Kris Mayes had the latter winning by 511 votes, an automatic recount of the contest found hundreds of uncounted votes in Pinal County that revealed Mayes’ lead to be much smaller, at 280 votes. That, as Hamadeh’s lawsuit noted, was “out of more than 2.5 million ballots cast.”

In response, Hamadeh, along with the Republican National Committee, filed a motion for a new trial in Mohave County, arguing that the recount “identified more problems in an election already riddled with process failures, thus casting further doubt about the actual result.”

“Even more unfortunately, this information … was not available to this Court at the time of trial,” Hamadeh’s legal team said in a statement. “The recount results identified significant, material discrepancies that cast doubt upon the completeness and accuracy of the election results.”

Hamadeh’s lawyers also allege that some Arizona election officials, such as then-Secretary of State and now-Gov. Hobbs, “knew about these material discrepancies” and intentionally withheld such information until after their initial trial.

Why It Matters

The success of Lake and Hamadeh’s legal efforts isn’t just vital for ensuring secure and fair elections for Arizonans; it’s also important for voters’ confidence in our democratic system. According to a Rasmussen survey released several weeks after the Nov. 8 election, 72 percent of U.S. likely voters agree that Arizona’s elections were “botched” and that state voters were denied their “sacred right to vote” on Election Day, including 45 percent who “strongly agree.”

It’s not just voters who aren’t confident in the outcome of Arizona’s elections, either. A post-election survey conducted by the Election Integrity Network found that a whopping 84 percent of Maricopa County election worker and poll watcher respondents are “not at all confident” Arizona’s election results are “completely accurate and honest.”

“I was in Ukraine in March within a week of the war starting and … at no point was it ever as overwhelming as it was on Election Day in Maricopa,” one poll worker told The Federalist last month.

If Americans are to have free and honest elections, then getting to the bottom of what happened in Arizona on Election Day is a must. Our institutions’ failure to provide voters answers and real accountability further undermines citizens’ faith in the democratic process.

Shawn Fleetwood is a Staff Writer for The Federalist and a graduate of the University of Mary Washington. He also serves as a state content writer for Convention of States Action and his work has been featured in numerous outlets, including RealClearPolitics, RealClearHealth, and Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @ShawnFleetwood


With 25,000 Mysterious Votes And Missing Documents, Maricopa’s 2022 Election Process Marked By Chaos And Uncertainty

With 25,000 Mysterious Votes And Missing Documents, Maricopa’s 2022 Election Process Marked By Chaos And Uncertainty

While the GOP and conservative media have largely moved on from Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and the systemic failures that occurred in Maricopa County on Nov. 8, court testimony and eyewitness reports from the Lake trial include allegations that Arizona’s largest county violated state law by failing to implement chain-of-custody documentation for Election Day ballots, resulting in a mysterious 25,000 extra votes added to Maricopa County’s official tally within a 24-hour period — more than the margin of victory between Lake and gubernatorial victor Katie Hobbs.

It was about 10:00 on election night when Maricopa County’s ballot tabulation vendor, Runbeck Election Services, received its first truckload of Election Day drop box ballots. While Runbeck received seven truckloads total (the last was completed about 5 a.m. the following morning), Runbeck staff thought it odd the deliveries did not come earlier throughout the day. But that wasn’t the only glitch. There were no chain-of-custody forms delivered with the ballots, a stark departure from typical procedure.

According to Runbeck employee Denise Marie, prior to Nov. 8, drop box ballots were “delivered in red bins with a chain of custody form” from the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center (MCTEC), which listed how many ballots were delivered.

But on election night, “instead of receiving the ballots in red bins, the ballots from the drop boxes had been placed in mail trays and loaded onto mail cages. MCTEC did not include the Maricopa County Delivery Receipt forms with any of the Election Day drop box ballot deliveries. There were no chain of custody forms with the ballots and no count of the number of ballots that were delivered,” Marie wrote in a sworn affidavit.

Maricopa County Co-Director of Elections Reynaldo Valenzuela even testified that while the county’s election workers count drop box ballots and record the counts on documents as required by law prior to Election Day, they did not count the ballots retrieved from drop boxes on Election Day itself. During the Lake trial, Valenzuela was asked whether Maricopa County election officials know the precise number of drop box ballots on Election Day, and he told the court, “On Election Day, no, because we’re not doing drop box courier process at that time. It’s a different process for Election Day.”

According to Lake attorney Kurt Olsen, this is in direct violation of Arizona state statute, which requires the county recorder to maintain records that log the chain of custody for ballots “during early voting through the completion of provisional voting tabulation.”

Per Arizona’s Election Procedures Manual, when ballots are taken from drop boxes, they must either be counted at the local vote center or be placed in secure ballot transport containers to be taken back to the county for tabulation. When the county recorder or elections official opens the container, he or she must count the number of ballots inside and note it on a retrieval form.

Because Maricopa County tabulators received more Election Day drop box ballots than they had ever received before, as County Recorder Stephen Richer testified, they removed the ballots from the ballot transport containers without counting or recording the number on a retrieval form for each drop box, as witnessed by Republican poll watcher Leslie White. This is a violation of the chain-of-custody requirements the county recorder is tasked with implementing.

The ballots were then put in mail trays and loaded onto mail cages, which were then put on trucks and delivered to Runbeck to be scanned and counted, according to supply-chain auditor and Lake trial witness Heather Honey. And notably, according to Marie’s sworn affidavit, this loading of ballots into the trucks also occurred without any documentation or record of the number of ballots on each.

Since Maricopa County failed to create its own chain-of-custody documents for the Election Day drop box ballots, Runbeck made its own (called “MC Inbound Receipt of Delivery Forms“), which logged the seven truckloads of drop box ballots on election night. On the delivery forms, Runbeck estimated the total number of Election Day drop box ballots to be 263,379 by multiplying the maximum number of ballots a mail tray can hold by the number of trays received, as Honey explained to The Federalist.

Runbeck CEO Jeff Ellington gave his staff a similar estimate of the number of ballots received via an email on Nov. 9, saying, “we started getting mail packets dropped off from Maricopa around 10pm last night and received mail packets about every hour through sunrise this morning. Likely between 250 and 275K packets were dropped off at the polls yesterday.”

At a press conference that evening, Richer affirmed Runbeck’s estimate by saying the county had received an unprecedented 275,000 drop-off ballots on Election Day. That same day, Maricopa County reported the total number of ballots cast in the 2022 general election to the Arizona Department of State: 1,136,849 ballots, with 407,664 ballots left to count — 1,544,513 ballots total.

However, on that same day, around 5:30 p.m., Maricopa County asked Runbeck to calculate the total number of Election Day drop-off ballots received, according to Marie, who was tasked with running the tabulation herself. Marie found that Runbeck’s records showed 298,942 drop box ballots had been received and scanned on Election Day.

As a result of such a discrepancy between the estimate and the official tally, Maricopa County sent a new vote tally to the Arizona secretary of state’s office on Nov. 10 (earlier that day, Richer had sent an email to the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors admitting he could not reconcile the differences between the county’s numbers and the secretary of state’s listing, demonstrating that even the supposed expert official in charge of the counting process couldn’t figure out where the extra ballots came from). Instead of the original 1,544,513 total ballots reported for the 2022 general election in Maricopa County, the secretary of state’s website now listed 1,569,603, a more than 25,000-vote discrepancy with no explanation. That same day, Maricopa County gave another press conference, stating it had received 292,000 Election Day drop box ballots without batting an eye.

What This Means

Arizona law requires the county recorder to show the origins and chain-of-custody documents for every drop box ballot obtained. According to Runbeck employee Denise Marie and Maricopa County Co-Director of Elections Reynaldo Valenzuela, Maricopa County violated state law by failing to create any chain-of-custody documentation for the drop box ballots received on Election Day. Because of this failure, no records exist to dispute or reconcile the discrepancy between the number of ballots Runbeck first reported (263,379) and its final tally (298,942), a more than 35,000-vote change. As Olsen remarked in his closing argument for the Lake trail, “If you don’t have a count from MCTEC when those ballots are being transported to Runbeck, how do you know whether that count is secure?”

Nor do there appear to be chain-of-custody documents, a violation of Arizona law, showing how Maricopa County was able to add more than 25,000 ballots to its final tally. That addition is more than Hobbs’ margin of victory, which was about 17,000 votes.

“On November 9th, the reported count is 25,000 ballots less, which is beyond the margin here, than on November 10th,” Olsen said. “So the day after the election, they put out what the count is and then magically 25,000 ballots appear on November 10th, and well, hey, that’s the race.”

While part of the argument Lake’s attorneys used in their lawsuit seeking to challenge Arizona’s gubernatorial election was that Maricopa County violated its own Election Procedural Manual by failing to implement chain-of-custody documentation, Arizona Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson rejected the claim due to the county’s assertion that such chain-of-custody documents exist, even though it failed to produce them. At the time of the trial, Maricopa County hadn’t fulfilled a public records request for the documents.

But while such documents do exist for drop box ballots counted prior to Election Day, no such chain-of-custody paperwork exists for the Election Day drop box ballots themselves, Honey reiterated to The Federalist. The judge did not consider this alleged violation of state law and ruled against Lake’s challenge, saying she failed to present clear and convincing evidence of widespread misconduct.

Arizona has an impossibly high bar for overturning elections on the grounds of misconduct, as the judge himself noted. Lake not only had to allege misconduct but intentional misconduct, such to affect the outcome of the election. Lake has since filed two appeals — one with an appeals court, the other with the Arizona Supreme Court. The appeals court agreed to expedite her case.

When asked about its alleged failure to implement chain-of-custody documentation for the Nov. 8 election, Communications Manager for the Maricopa County Elections Department Matthew Roberts told The Federalist: “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. At no point during the process were chain of custody policies broken or procedures not followed and documented.”

The Maricopa County Elections Department did not respond to The Federalist’s request for documentation of the chain-of-custody process for the Election Day drop box ballots.

Victoria Marshall is a staff writer at The Federalist. Her writing has been featured in the New York Post, National Review, and Townhall. She graduated from Hillsdale College in May 2021 with a major in politics and a minor in journalism. Follow her on Twitter @vemrshll.


Republican-Led House Must Ban Private Funding Of Elections Or Force Democrats To Defend It On The Record

Republican-Led House Must Ban Private Funding Of Elections Or Force Democrats To Defend It On The Record

After it was reported that the U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence will give out $500,000 grants to two beneficiaries (and $1.5 million to another) leading up to the 2024 election cycle, Republican Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana is calling for a ban on the private funding of elections.

The U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence is a project of the Center for Tech and Civic Life, a group that, during the 2020 presidential election, helped funnel $328 million “Zuckbucks” from Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg to mostly blue counties of swing states to mobilize potential Democrat voters and help swing the race in Joe Biden’s favor. While CTCL said the money was also distributed to red counties, it was drastically less than that given to blue areas; a full 92 percent of the money went to Biden-leaning counties.

As I reported last month, CTCL just announced its list of beneficiaries leading up to the 2024 election cycle. While CTCL did not specify how it chose its beneficiaries, most of the jurisdictions picked lean heavily Democratic and are located in key swing states, just like in 2020. It looks like CTCL is hoping to replicate its success in 2020, although this time largely under the guise of the U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence.

While 24 states have enacted bans or restrictions on private money being used to administer elections, some states’ Democrat governors have vetoed such bans, including Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

“Private money has no place in public election infrastructure,” Banks told The Daily Signal. “Most Democrat-controlled states will never prevent their Big Tech partners from influencing their elections. … A Republican House majority needs to step up and pass national legislation to prevent private actors from funding election organizations.”

In 2021, Banks was one of 13 House Republicans who backed legislation amending the Internal Revenue Code to prohibit 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations from directly funding official election administration. With their new majority, House Republicans must now pay attention to the left’s secret funding apparatus and use their power to stop it — or, if Democrats in the Senate or President Joe Biden shoot it down, force them to defend the privatizing of elections.

Another heavily funded get-out-the-(Democratic)-vote scheme House Republicans must crack down on are Democrats’ use of 501(c)(3) “charities” that micro-target and register potential Democratic voters, despite the IRS prohibiting such groups from engaging in “voter education or registration activities with evidence of bias that (a) would favor one candidate over another; (b) oppose a candidate in some manner; or (c) have the effect of favoring a candidate or group of candidates.”

As the Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley Strassel notes, groups such as the New Georgia Project (which The New York Times lauds for helping turn Georgia into a blue state by registering tens of thousands of voters) and Mind The Gap (a leftist Super PAC that advises donors to bankroll voter registration nonprofits) are explicit about electing Democrats, yet they face no fines or retribution from the IRS. Just as the GOP-controlled House went after the IRS’ latest funding boost on Monday, it should also discipline the agency for blatantly ignoring these voter registration “charities” and their obvious partisanship.

Looks like the House GOP has got its work set out.

Victoria Marshall is a staff writer at The Federalist. Her writing has been featured in the New York Post, National Review, and Townhall. She graduated from Hillsdale College in May 2021 with a major in politics and a minor in journalism. Follow her on Twitter @vemrshll.


Democrat County Commissioner Indicted On Voter Fraud Charges In Alabama

The son of a notable Alabama civil rights activist was indicted on charges related to voter fraud on Wednesday, undercutting claims by leftist organizations and corporate media that legitimate concerns about the issue are unfounded.

According to Advance Local, an Alabama news outlet, Perry County Commission Chairman Albert Turner Jr. has been charged by Fourth Judicial Circuit District Attorney Michael Jackson and Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill “with voting more than once, which is a misdemeanor, and harvesting ballots, a felony.” The alleged incidents occurred during two separate elections in May and November of last year.

As noted in the report, Jackson revealed how several witnesses claimed they saw Turner “stuffing filled out ballots in favor of the candidates he was supporting” into a voting machine during the county’s May 2022 Democrat primary election. Regarding the November contest, Jackson said Turner has been, as Advance Local described, “accused of mailing an undisclosed number of absentee ballots.”

“Since January 19, 2015, we have worked extraordinarily hard to make it easy to vote and hard to cheat in Alabama,” Merrill said. “While the accused is innocent until proven guilty, it is important to know that this incident … will receive the full attention of this office as we confirm for the people for the State of Alabama that we are the gold standard for election administration in the United States.”

Merrill and Jackson did not indicate which particular races Turner has been accused of meddling in nor whether those alleged actions could have affected any election’s outcome.

While Turner’s alleged crimes present a striking example of problems with the integrity of U.S. elections, the story will almost assuredly be ignored by Democrat-friendly nonprofits and corporate media. For years, such entities have worked overtime to dismiss concerns related to fraud and ballot harvesting.

In 2018, for instance, The Washington Post ran a lengthy article lamenting Republican-backed voter ID laws as a form of voter suppression and castigating voter fraud as “extremely rare in recent elections.”

“The real problem with American elections is not voter fraud but abysmally low turnout that ranks the United States near the bottom of peer democracies,” the diatribe reads. “The many forms of voter suppression now in place could have an effect on the outcome of the [2018] midterm elections, with many House, Senate and gubernatorial races decided by a handful of votes.”

Left-wing nonprofits such as The Center for American Progress have also gone to war against Americans concerned about election integrity issues. In 2016, the group published an article titled, “Voter Fraud Isn’t Real—But Voter Suppression Is a Grave Danger,” in which the authors bemoan how the “toxic myth of voter fraud is used to justify real voter suppression that costs citizens their voices in democracy.”

While there’s been ample evidence of fraud, irregularities, and other rigging in recent elections, there’s also been historic numbers of people voting, putting to bed false narratives that so-called rampant voter suppression is killing democracy.

Shawn Fleetwood is a Staff Writer for The Federalist and a graduate of the University of Mary Washington. He also serves as a state content writer for Convention of States Action and his work has been featured in numerous outlets, including RealClearPolitics, RealClearHealth, and Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @ShawnFleetwood



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