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Trump campaign files lawsuit claiming Maricopa County ‘incorrectly rejected’ some votes

Maria Polletta | Arizona Republic

(CNT) City News Talk #arizona

President Donald Trump’s campaign is suing Arizona elections officials, alleging Maricopa County poll workers “incorrectly rejected” votes cast in person on Election Day.

The lawsuit — filed by the campaign, along with the Republican National Committee and the Arizona Republican Party — contends poll workers deviated from procedures meant to ensure voters who make mistakes on their ballots aren’t disenfranchised, possibly affecting final vote counts in the battleground state. 

It names Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes and the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors as defendants, and calls for officials to identify and reinspect Election Day ballots from Maricopa County that contain apparent “irregularities in connection with the voter’s selection of a candidate.”

Maricopa County tabulation machines are programmed to alert voters when their ballots contain such irregularities — stray markings, for instance, or an “overvote,” which involves marking more options than is allowed in a particular race. When these issues arise, a screen pops up detailing the problem and the machine’s green “Cast” and red “Return” buttons light up.

The voter then has a choice: “Spoil” the ballot and fill out a new one, or cast the existing ballot after seeing a warning that indicated contests containing problems such as overvotes won’t be counted. 

If a voter chooses to spoil a ballot, elections officials are required to keep it on file but will not count it. If the voter chooses to proceed with a potentially problematic ballot, all clearly and correctly marked votes will still be counted.

A training video for Arizona poll workers emphasizes: “Only voters will press these ‘Cast’ and ‘Return’ buttons.”

The lawsuit alleges that Maricopa County poll workers disregarded those instructions on Election Day by “pressing, or inducing voters to press, the so-called ‘green button’ on tabulation devices when confronted with alerts signaling apparent defects or irregularities.” 

It includes a signed affidavit from a Mesa woman identifying herself as a credentialed poll observer who said she had seen poll workers “regularly and consistently” advising voters who received an error screen to “simply press the green button on the tabulator without explaining why the ballot had been rejected or the consequences of overriding the tabulator’s determination.”

A handful of voters also signed affidavits.

“Poll workers struggled to operate the new voting machines in Maricopa County,” Trump campaign attorney Matt Morgan said Saturday. “The result is that the voting machines disregarded votes cast by voters in person on Election Day in Maricopa County.”

Three days earlier, though, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office — headed by Republican Allister Adel — had repeatedly disputed the idea any votes were scrapped without voters having a say. 

“No ballots were rejected at voting centers, for overvotes or any other reason,” the office wrote in a letter addressing election concerns raised by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. 

In cases of irregularities, it said, voters were provided the opportunity to spoil damaged ballots and cast new ones, and “whether voters do so or not” was “entirely up to them.”

The letter also noted the Maricopa County Elections Department performs a postelection analysis that identifies the number of spoiled ballots for each voting location. 

The Maricopa County report detailing the official results of 2018 midterms, for instance, noted 2,005 overvotes in the U.S. Senate race between Martha McSally and Kyrsten Sinema.

County elections officials declined to comment on pending litigation. 

As of Saturday evening, Arizona still had more than 100,000 votes left to count, with Trump gradually chipping away at Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s lead. Multiple media outlets already had called the national race for Biden.