Signature Verification Suit:
• On March 3, 2023, Restoring Integrity and Trust in Elections (RITE) and AZ Free Enterprise Club sued Arizona Secretary of State Fontes. The lawsuit demonstrates how Governor Katie Hobbs violated state law in her previous role as Secretary of State by authorizing an illegal expansion of the database of signatures used to verify ballots, including the addition of potentially unreliable signatures. On March 13, 2023, the Elias Law Group moved to intervene in the case on behalf of Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans. On March 21, Mi Familia Vota moved to intervene in the litigation. This week the AZGOP joined the case. •
HB 2492 (Proof of Citizenship) Challenges:
• There are 8 lawsuits challenging HB2492 (and other legislation) that require proof of citizenship for registrants using the National Voter Registration Form:
• Six of the lawsuits were consolidated. The RNC was granted intervention in all of the cases.
• On December 27, 2022, the State filed a motion to dismiss. The motion to dismiss was denied on February 16, 2023.
• Update: On April 4, 2023, the Arizona Speaker of the House of Representatives and Senate President moved to intervene as defendants.
• The AZGOP is seeking to file an Amicus brief in support.
Attorney General Contest:
UPDATE: Judge Jantzen Order for Hearing here.
• Attorney General candidate Abe Hamadeh and the RNC remain in a pending election contest. A motion for a new trial is pending. After the statewide statutory recount, Hamadeh’s deficit decreased to 280 votes. A motion for a new trial is pending. Senate President Warren Petersen and House Speaker Ben Toma filed an amicus brief in support of Hamadeh.
There are two issues in this litigation that everyone should watch:
- Tabulator Errors leading to undercounts: The statutory recount in Pinal, report of which was released AFTER the Hamdeh Contest Hearing, appears to confirm the legal theory the AG candidate presented in court. Namely, that the ‘undervotes’ (counted as the voter leaving the race blank), were in fact votes that were undercounted due to high sensitivity settings on tabulators. Hamadeh’s legal team presented evidence of Maricopa County ballots that upon inspection, revealed errors in the tally. The Judge ruled that the number of errors the Hamadeh Team presented after the very limited time to inspect ballots were not sufficient to have changed results and dismissed the case. Days later the Pinal Recount report was released reflecting just that – a substantial error in the tally due to a tabulator setting. Of note, then SOS Hobbs went to court to delay the release of the Pinal Recount report until AFTER the Hamadeh case was dismissed (NOTE: See AG opens investigation into improper actions by SOS Hobbs on recount report release)..
- Uncounted Provisional Ballots: Then SOS Hobbs entered into a consent decree with the League of Women Voters agreeing to modify ServiceArizona.com such that, when an Arizona citizen modifies their auto registration, if they do not UNCHECK a prepopulated box, will have their Voter Registration record CHANGED to the county listed on the auto registration/Drivers License. Just one problem, site users are not noticing the box and potentially as many as three thousand voters in Arizona had their voter registration changed without their knowledge. This appears to have rwsulted in thousands of voters being denied their opportunity to cast a ballot in the 2022 election. Many voted provisionally, and, according to Jen Wright of the Hamadeh legal team, those provisionals, thousands of whom were Republican voter, were subsequently rejected.
- Appearance before the court with oral arguments coming on May 16, 2023.
- FOLLOW the case here.
Kari Lake Contest:
· Attorneys for the Lake team are seeking the 2022 affidavit envelope signatures and exemplars used to verify them as the case heads back to the Superior Court after the State Supreme Court reversed the dismissal of the Signature Verification count at the original trial. Follow the Lake case here.
The Republican Senate Majority in our legislature has moved the following bills aimed at increasing transparency, improving speed of processing to deliver results earlier and to restore confidence:
§ Voted to put Representative Austin Smith’s HCR2033 Referendum on the 2024 ballot to prohibit Ranked Choice Voting
§ Passed Senator Kavanagh’s 1135 (as amended) out of full Senate and out of House Committee to prohibit violating state laws to be in ERIC
§ Passed Senator Hoffman’s 1170 out of full Senate and out of House Committee to regulate dropboxes and require them to be staffed and under 24 hour recorded surveillance.
§ Passed Senator Bennett’s 1324 out of full Senate to create a portal for the public to access ballot images, the Cast Vote Record and voter data (House mirror bill – Speaker Toma’s 2560 passed House committee, waiting for floor vote)
§ Passed Senator Kavanagh’s 1175 out of full Senate and out of House Committee to create ballot tracking in outlying counties, permit hand count with only one political party if the other fails to submit names, place observers at vendors like Runbeck.
UPDATE 04222023- VETOED: § Passed Senator Carroll’s 1565 out of full Senate and out of House Committee to prohibit the use of AI or learning software or firmware in any AZ election and removes authorization for SOS or any county/town to provide for experimental use of an election system that has not been certified.
§ Passed Senator Mesnard’s 1598 out of full Senate and out of House Committee to add Federal campaign observers in central count, codify observer rights § Passed 1273 out of full Senate and out of House Committee to add ballot harvesting permissions/prohibitions to mail ballot instructions
§ Passed Senator Bennett’s 1518 out of full Senate and out of House Committee to permit showing Government issued ID IN LIEU OF Signature Verification when voting early in person or dropping off mail ballots
The Republican Majority in the House has sent numerous important Election bills to the Senate, and these started to hit the Senate floor last week and this week.
Representative McGarr’s 2305 – Ballots, Signature Verification, observers – requires observers in every level of signature verification, requires reasonable viewing access, requires logs of which election worker is performing the verification of each affidavit envelope.
UPDATE 04172023 VETOED: Senator Kolodin’s 2319 – Elections, Rule of Construction – requiring courts to interpret election statutes with the weight on transparency.
House Majority Leader Biasiucci’s 2378- election officials – PAC prohibition. Like the Senate bill 1264 this prohibits election officials from serving on PACs.
UPDATE 041823 VETOED: Representative Heap’s 2691 – electors, ballot chain of custody – creates a chain of custody for all ballots/ballot paper
Representative Griffin’s 2722 – elections, option; full hand count – permits the hand count of ballots in lieu of tabulation
Governor Hobbs continues to veto Election Integrity legislation. The following election bills were vetoed last week:
Senate Majority Leader Borrelli’s 1074 required all election tabulation equipment to be manufactured in the US under DOD cybersecurity guidelines, and to require the source codes be held by the Auditor General was vetoed.
House Majority Leader Biasiucci’s HB2415 required a voter who has failed to utilize a mail ballot in a general election cycle be issued a notice that they would be removed from the mail ballot list if the notice was not returned to the County Recorder. This bill did not remove the ability to vote, it stopped a mail ballot being issued to an elector who is choosing not to use them to vote by mail.
Hypocrisy was on full display in Hobbs’ veto of HB2322, Representative Kolodin’s bill to create a MINIMUM statewide standard for signature verification. The standard was that created by Governor Hobbs while she serves as Secretary of State, the 2019 SOS Signature Verification Guide. This was a bipartisan bill that passed out of the House with Democrat support.
The Yavapai case on Signature Verification is of paramount importance.
We must hold our Republican Majorities in the Legislature and continue to promote good policy and hold the line.