Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer testified Wednesday during GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake’s election challenge trial that the individual polling locations did not tally the total number of votes cast in the midterm elections, a seeming violation of state law.
Lake attorney Bryan Blehm asked Richer whether the county knew on Election Day the total number of ballots submitted by voters.
One of the allegations in Lake’s lawsuit is that the total number of ballots the county reported in the election increased by nearly 25,000 from Nov. 9, the day after the contest, to Nov. 11.
That number is significant because it exceeds Katie Hobbs’ approximately 17,000-vote margin of victory over Lake.
“On Election Day it would’ve been easy for you to figure out how many ballots you received,” Blehm said to Richer.
He responded, “Well, we had to get them all in and it was quite a process throughout the night.”
Blehm interjected, “You can look at the forms and add the numbers. Correct?”
“They’re not counted at the individual loading locations,” Richer said. “They are counted when they get back to MCTEC and then they are recounted at Runbeck.”
MCTEC is the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center in downtown Phoenix and Runbeck is the company the county uses to process and scan ballots.
“Does anybody know when those ballots leave the voting centers how many are in the bins?” Blehm asked.
“When the early ballots leave the voting centers, no, they are not counted at the voting centers,” Richer answered.
“Does anybody know when those ballots leaving the voting centers, how many are in the bins?”
This is a MAJOR problem!
Maricopa County Recorder admits chain of custody is totally meaningless, they can magically say how many ballots appear at central tabulation facility pic.twitter.com/WIJr7tS7Zx
— Liz Harrington (@realLizUSA) December 21, 2022
Blehm followed up, “Nobody knows how many [ballots] are in the bins when they arrive at MCTEC. Correct?”
“Correct,” Richer said.
The Arizona Republican Party tweeted in response, “Maricopa County admits they do NOT count ballots at vote centers (which is required by State Law).”
#BREAKING Maricopa County admits they do NOT count ballots at vote centers (which is required by State Law) #LakeTrial
— Republican Party of Arizona (@AZGOP) December 21, 2022
The 2019 Arizona elections procedures manual, which cites state law, requires an audit at each voting location of the total number of ballots cast. The results must be recorded in an official ballot report.
The audit even requires accounting for the total amount of ballot stock paper on-site. The ballots cast must then be placed in sealed boxes.
The Western Journal spoke with former Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, who said Maricopa County should have known the total number of ballots on Election Day or certainly by the day after.
Each voting center, he explained, should have reported the exact number of voters and the number of early ballots that were dropped off.
The county must be able to answer the question, “How many ballots are we responsible for?” Bennett said.
“And it should match up with the number of people who signed in on the voting list or envelopes of the people that mailed theirs in or … dropped them off at voting centers on Election Day.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.