After the 2021 Election, there was an unstoppable effort to get to the bottom of the 2020 Election in Arizona’s Maricopa County. Eventually, an audit was voted on, approved and performed in the Arizona GOP-led Senate.
There was much discussion then on who would perform the audit and where it would be performed. Eventually, it was determined that the audit would be performed at the Maricopa County Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
There also were months between when the audit was voted on and when it started.
The audit did occur, but based on the information we know today, the ballot count and review should have ended after three days.
Many good people volunteered and spent many hours counting and reviewing ballots during the 2021 audit of Maricopa County.
They are not to blame.
A few weeks after the audit started a letter was sent to Maricopa County officials in May 2021 from the Arizona Senate and signed by Karen Fann. In this letter, the following was noted:
II. Chain of Custody and Ballot Organization Anomalies
As the audit has progressed, the Senate’s contractors have become aware of apparent omissions, inconsistencies, and anomalies relating to Maricopa County’s handling, organization, and storage of ballots. We hope you can assist us in understanding these issues, including specifically the following:
- The County has not provided any chain-of-custody documentation for the ballots. Does such documentation exist, and if so, will it be produced?
- The bags in which the ballots were stored are not sealed, although the audit team has found at the bottom of many boxes cut seals of the type that would have sealed a ballot bag. Why were these seals placed at the bottom of the boxes?
- Batches within a box are frequently separated by only a divider without any indication of the corresponding batch numbers. In some cases, the batch dividers are missing altogether. This lack of organization has significantly complicated and delayed the audit team’s ballot processing efforts. What are the County’s procedures for sorting, organizing, and packaging ballot batches?
- Most of the ballot boxes were sealed merely with regular tape and not secured by any kind of tamper-evident seal. Is that the County’s customary practice for storing ballots?
- The audit team has encountered a significant number of instances in which there is a disparity between the actual number of ballots contained in a batch and the total denoted on the pink report slip accompanying the batch. In most of these instances, the total on the pink report slip is greater than the number of ballots in the batch, although there are a few instances in which the total is lower. What are the reasons for these discrepancies? For your reference, please see several illustrative (i.e., not comprehensive) examples in the table below:
Here is the letter from the Arizona Senate to the Maricopa County Supervisors
Notice that the Senate shared that the boxes received were in terrible condition with bags unsealed and broken seals but no data was provided related to the number and percent of boxes not complying with the chain of custody practices. In addition, other material issues related to the audit were identified and the ballot issues were somewhat hidden.
In an interview with Ken Bennett two days later, Bennett shared with Jordan Conradson at TGP:
Well, we still don’t have the chain of custody documents that the county must have kept between when the ballots were put in the warehouse after the November election to when they were delivered to us on April 22nd. We know that one of the county officials tweeted out a photo of some of the ballot pallets being loaded into the back of a truck as though they were ready to deliver them to the Senate. And so we would like to see if their chain of custody documents between November and April include movement of the ballots like that. We have complete chain of custody from the day that they brought the ballots to us, while we’ve been holding the ballots. But we’re still looking for the chain of custody documentation between the election and April.
The other thing that I think was in President Fann’s letter was that as we open a lot of the boxes, we have kind of a subtotal sheet that says ‘below this is 200 ballots that were part of a batch that Maricopa County counted’ but a lot of times we’re finding a variance. Usually, it’s small, 2 or 3 ballots, but I heard one was 35. One was 165 ballots were present when the cover sheet said that there should have been 200. Even a 2 or 3 ballots per 200 batch is significant because the election Arizona was decided by 2 out of 800! So even if you have a 1 or 2 variance in a batch of 200 ballots, that’s a significant variance in a race that was as close as 2 out of 800.
Notice, again at this time there was no clear understanding of the number of ballot issues. We also learned that there is no chain of custody for the time period between the election and when they were delivered to the audit team.
In the final reports prepared by the auditors, they also don’t mention the number of ballots that were related to boxes that were unsealed or included in boxes where the ballots were broken. Ballot issues were noted but not tabulated.
— AZSenateRepublicans (@AZSenateGOP) September 24, 2021
In one of the final reports, the following was provided related to ballots counted in the audit.
These results were not accurate. The reason is that the ballots were tainted. They were tampered with.
Per our understanding, there were approximately 44 pallets of ballots with approximately 80 boxes of ballots on each pallet.
We received information that of the first 13 pallets of ballots that were audited, reviewed and counted over the first three days of the audit, each and every box of ballots on each and every pallet was tampered with. The seals were broken on every single box.
After three days, 25% of the ballots from the 2020 Election were counted in the county and all were contained in boxes that were tampered with. Every single ballot during the first three days of the review was obtained from boxes that were tampered with.
NONE of the ballots observed in the first three days of counting and review should have been considered valid. They were invalidated when their boxes were opened and their seals broken.
Unfortunately, this was not mentioned in the audit reports. It should have the first thing highlighted.