Brnovich explains that in addition to the many issues outlined in the report, the Attorney General's Election Integrity Unit, or EIU, is reviewing additional complaints that allege potential misconduct and other election failures in 2020. He wrote that after spending thousands of hours analyzing the election system and processes in Maricopa County, reviewing the Senate's audit reports, carrying out interviews and looking at other complaints, EIU investigators and attorneys have reached the conclusion that “serious vulnerabilities” exist in Maricopa County that need to be addressed.
AG Brnovich reported that the EIU found individuals who have committed voter fraud, and he said that they “have been or will be prosecuted” for “various election crimes.” However, he stopped short of disclosing the specific civil and criminal charges due to the ongoing investigation.
One focus of the report was the county’s improper signature verification process. The county had more than 200,000 early ballot affidavit signatures, and election workers sometimes had just seconds to review signatures. The report states: “We can report that there are problematic system-wide issues that relate to early ballot handling and verification. The early ballot signature verification system in Maricopa County is insufficient to guard against abuse. At times election workers conducting the verification process had only seconds to review a signature.”
The report also recommended changing laws to allow for the immediate production of election records upon the AG’s request in light of the challenges the EIU faced in obtaining the records in a timely fashion.
Another issue identified by the report relates to the transportation of ballots from drop boxes to the election headquarters. According to estimates in the report, as many as 200,000 ballots are believed to have been transported without a proper chain of custody. This is more than enough to have changed the course of the election; Trump lost the state of Arizona by just 10,457 votes that year. Moreover, the report points out that there are no election protection measures in place for the chain of custody for the 2022 elections.
The interim report also calls for higher penalties for election-related crimes such as ballot harvesting and tampering with ballot drop boxes, in addition to greater protections for whistleblowers.
Section VI of the report states in part: “The Legislature should also consider adding a crime where members of an organization, including a non-profit or non-governmental organization, that knew or should have known members (whether employees or volunteers) in their organization are engaged in widespread ballot harvesting are subject to criminal liability.”
Brnovich also sought to ensure that a new law making it unlawful to prepare or conduct elections in Arizona using private or non-governmental grant money is being enforced. According to the report, Democratic strongholds received nearly $8 million in private, non-governmental grant money under the direction of Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, during the 2020 election. An initial review raised red flags about where the money was spent, and the AG vowed to continue investigating the matter.
The report states that its goal is restoring confidence in the state’s elections across all parties, emphasizing the need to ensure that every legal vote is counted, and illegal votes are not allowed.
Sources for this article include: