The much anticipated audit report has finally been released, and it has proven to not be a disappointment for those seeking an in-depth look at election security and potential fraud in Maricopa County.
Unsurprisingly, the establishment media spent little time actually reviewing the 90-page report, instead focusing on the Presidential recount figures showing Biden still winning Maricopa County.
This lazy analysis ignored the more critical aspects of the audit, including the real, substantive findings that identified legitimate issues with our election process and a comprehensive list of election reform recommendations.
The audit recommendations are not based upon wild conspiracies, as the left and corporate media might want you to believe. Instead, they are measured, reasonable, common-sense election integrity policies that will ensure that every legal vote is properly counted. In fact, most of the recommended reforms from the audit are election law changes that the Free Enterprise Club has been urging lawmakers to adopt for years. We knew these were critical before—the audit findings confirm and show the necessity of them.
So, what are the most critical election integrity reforms recommended by the audit?
In-Person Voters Moved Prior to Registration Deadline
Among the most concerning findings is that potentially 2,382 voters moved out of Maricopa County prior to the registration deadline yet they still cast a ballot in-person. The audit team relied on data provided by Maricopa County and compared it with best-in-class commercial data to find individuals who moved before the election but appear on the voted list provided by the county.
Because the data indicating voters moved is third-party, commercial data, this might not be perfectly accurate. That’s why further investigation by the Attorney General is warranted. But it is important to highlight that this is in-person voting, not vote by mail. All systems have vulnerabilities and front-end security is most effective in limiting fraudulent and illegal voting.
Recommendation: Voter Roll Maintenance
To that end, the audit team recommended changes to laws regulating voter registration maintenance. Specifically, comparing the voter rolls to the National Change of Address database both 90 days before an election and a week prior to early ballots being mailed to check for individuals who have left the state along with regular voter roll maintenance.
Doing this would help ensure that only qualified electors, which requires residence in the county, would be on voter rolls at the polls preventing unqualified electors from casting a ballot. This is an issue The Club pushed to reform last session with SB1106 which was sponsored by Senator Mesnard and would have required counties to cancel voter registrations for individuals who register to vote in another jurisdiction.
Mail-In Voters Moved Prior to Ballots Being Sent
In the same vein, the audit team found 23,344 mail-in ballots potentially cast from voters who had moved prior to October 5th, when ballots were first mailed. The majority of these, 15,035, were moves within Maricopa County, but a total of 6,591 were from voters who moved out of the state prior to October 5th, and 1,718 moved to another county in Arizona.
State law does not allow these ballots to be forwarded. There is a mechanism for voters to make a one-time request for a ballot at a different address, but this volume of ballots being sent to individuals who had moved—especially the 6,591 who moved to another state—and were cast and counted is more than concerning.
Recommendation: Early Voting List and Voter Roll Maintenance
As with the last, the audit team recommends more comprehensive voter roll maintenance. Ensuring only lawful, qualified electors are registered and on the voter rolls is one of the best deterrents of fraud and illegal voting. Doing a check against different databases 90 days before an election and a week prior to ballots being mailed will ensure that ballots are not being mailed to voters who are no longer qualified and sent to addresses where they no longer live.
Ballot Affidavits Missing Signatures
The last area deserving spotlight is the initial review of the mail-in ballot affidavits, more recognizable to voters as the envelope where they sign. The Club has supported an in-depth look at these from the beginning, and this first review confirms the need to look even further.
EchoMail, who was contracted by the Senate a few weeks ago to conduct the first look, analyzed the images of ballot envelopes provided by Maricopa County. They came up with a count of verification ready affidavits that was 9,589 ballots fewer than what Maricopa County reported in the official canvass.
This is because they received over 17,322 duplicate envelopes, found 1,919 lacking a signature (compared to Maricopa’s report of 1,455), and another 2,580 with “scribbles.” EchoMail was provided with 1,929,240 affidavits, bringing the total that were ready for signature verification to 1,907,419 compared to Maricopa County’s tally of 1,917,008 that was reported as ready for verification.
Recommendation: Universal Voter ID (Audit Report Supports Voter ID Ballot Initiative)
Unfortunately, EchoMail wasn’t contracted to analyze signatures to audit the performance and accuracy of the county’s process. But the major discrepancy between Maricopa County and the Audit Team is unsurprising.
The process used to verify signatures is highly subjective which makes it an inconsistent measure of identity verification which can lead to both illegal votes being counted, and legal votes not being counted. Rightly so, the audit team recommended reforms that require mail-in ballot affidavits include objective identification requirements like those required for individuals voting in person.
This would mean a universal voter ID requirement in Arizona, something that 82% or Arizona voters support. And it is exactly what the Arizonans for Voter ID Act ballot initiative would do—ensure that no matter when you vote, where you vote, or how you vote, identification will be required. It was filed well before the report was released because it is good and commonsense election integrity policy. Now the audit team, after spending months analyzing the election, recommends it and bolsters its necessity.
These aren’t the only three issues. The audit report details election data that was potentially deleted the night before the County commissioned review of Dominion machines, for which the team recommends legislation for better chain of custody for data and ensuring unique login credentials for everyone who has access to it.
The report also finds that potentially 9,041 more ballots were returned than received by voters, 5,295 voters who potentially voted in multiple counties, a 1,551 discrepancy between votes in the canvass and voters in the county’s final “voted” file, and 86,391 voters who voted but cannot be found in the commercial data source used, among others.
The Path Forward
The county has responded to many of these, but they should be fully investigated by the Attorney General as suggested in Senate President Karen Fann’s letter to Brnovich which included all of the reports and related data for launching an official investigation.
Additionally, the importance of front-end security in our election processes is more apparent than ever. Potential fraud and illegal voting were found with both in-person and mail-in voting. The best deterrent and prevention for both is strong ID requirements and clean and current voter rolls.
These recommendations were repeated throughout the report and are reforms that the Club has supported for years. The Governor and lawmakers should convene a Special Session to pass these legislative recommendations and others made by the audit team.
If they can’t do that, they must come into the Regular Session in January ready to quickly craft and pass these into law in time for the 2022 elections. Voters want a system that is accessible and safeguarded from fraud—where it is easy to vote, and hard to cheat. This report and its recommendations confirm we can maintain our accessibility while making reforms to ensure better security.
You Can Make a Difference
Elections should be both accessible and secure. That’s why universal voter ID is so important. We must protect the ballot of every qualified Arizona voter and ensure the integrity of our elections.
Find out more about this initiative and what YOU can do to ensure it makes it onto the November 2022 ballot.