Maricopa County failed to maintain chain-of-custody records for hundreds of thousands of early ballots dropped off at third-party contractor Runbeck Election Services, and a new report is out analyzing the extent of the illegal behavior, which is a class 2 misdemeanor. Election integrity organization Verity Vote issued its analysis last week.
The report observed that then-Secretary of State Katie Hobbs admonished Cochise County before the 2022 election about deviating from the state’s Election Procedures Manual. Yet “just one month later, Hobbs chose to disregard Maricopa County’s admitted deviations from the EPM and violations of law as she oversaw and certified her own election.” Verity Vote asserted that documents “long withheld” were finally produced, revealing the lack of chain of custody, and “Maricopa officials misled the court about the process and the records.”
In Hobbs’ October 22 letter to the Cochise County Supervisors, she said, “The County ‘has no discretion to deviate’ from the requirements ‘established by the Legislature and in the EPM,’ and any attempt by the Board to ‘circumvent the mandates of the EPM would be unlawful.’” Hobbs threatened to sue the county if they conducted a hand count of ballots.
A.R.S. 16-452 states that the EPM contains the rules governing elections. Section C of that statute provides, “A person who violates any rule adopted pursuant to this section is guilty of a class 2 misdemeanor.”
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