Maricopa County Board of Supervisors votes unanimously to certify election results
Jen Fifield | Arizona Republic
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Maricopa County’s election results are certified and final.
The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, the elected body that oversees elections in Arizona’s most populous county, voted unanimously on Friday to approve the results of this month’s general election.
The majority-Republican supervisors did so after spending hours on Friday afternoon asking election officials who oversaw the voting process numerous questions related to election fairness, security, technology and oversight.
Before the vote, the supervisors, four Republicans and one Democrat, said they were satisfied with the answers.
Republican chairman Clint Hickman said there was no proof of fraud or misconduct in the election and he was confident that voters were provided with a fair election. He said that he “learned a lot about the character of people in this community” on the matter, and he would not “violate the law or deviate from my own moral compass,” even though he said that’s what some had pressured him to do.
“No matter how you voted, this election was administered with integrity, transparency, and most importantly in accordance with Arizona state laws,” Hickman said.
All but one Arizona county has certified results
The certification comes as President Donald Trump attempts to overturn results of the election through legal challenges in states that President-elect Joe Biden won. The Trump campaign and the Arizona Republican Party filed several lawsuits against Maricopa County election officials alleging problems with voting in the county. By Friday afternoon, all of the challenges in the county were dismissed.
The vote to certify results, called a canvass, is typically nothing more than a final nod. It’s done across the country by county elected officials.
But this year, as Trump repeatedly said the election was rigged, the process of canvassing the votes has become political in Arizona and across the country.
In Pima County, for example, two Republicans on the five-member Board of Supervisors voted against certifying the county’s election results. In Wayne County, Michigan, Republicans also at first voted against certifying the election results there, before reversing course.
Maricopa County is among the last counties in Arizona to certify its results. Mohave County is the only county that has not yet certified its results, and its canvass is scheduled for Monday.
Maricopa County canvass happened on schedule
The certification of results in Maricopa County comes on schedule, after the court challenges filed questioning the integrity of the election in the county threatened to delay the certification.
In the lawsuits, the Arizona Republican Party and Trump campaign had claimed widespread issues with voting in the state.
County attorney Thomas Liddy told the supervisors on Friday that a lawyer for the Trump campaign said in court that there was no proof of fraud in the county’s elections that would have changed the election results.
Hickman said that all of the arguments brought against the county in court have “fallen flat” and had no evidence.
County election officials and both Democratic and Republican elected officials in the state have spent the weeks since the election attempting to reassure voters that the election was sound.
The Board of Supervisors this year helped the Recorder’s Office administer the election, after taking back some duties that had traditionally fallen to the recorder.
Hickman said he and the supervisors received hundreds or thousands of questions from voters about the integrity of the election, including many asking the board to issue another recount of votes. He said he still was receiving questions on Friday.
He said he wanted to make sure all of the public’s questions were answered.
“I can go all night because it’s so important to the public,” he said.
The certified results
The certified results show that 2,089,563 ballots were counted, for a turnout of 80.51% of registered voters in the county.
Biden received 1,040,774 votes and Trump received 995,665 votes.
Maricopa County counted a total of 1,915,487 early ballots.
The county rejected a total of 2,976 early ballots. Of those, 1,455 had no signature, 587 had bad signatures, and 934 came in late.
That’s fewer early ballots rejected than during the last presidential election in 2016, when 5,201 were rejected.
Despite concerns about the U.S. Postal Service this year, significantly fewer ballots came in late this year compared to 2016, when 1,536 came in late.
Rey Valenzuela, elections director of early voting and election services for the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office, said the county worked with the post office even more this year than in past years to make sure they were prepared to get every early ballot cast on time.
There were 18,310 provisional ballots cast. A provisional ballot is cast when there is some question about the voter’s eligibility to vote. Of those, 6,198 were ultimately counted and 12,112 were rejected. The majority of the rejected ballots were from people who were not registered to vote or were not eligible to vote in this election.
Questions on technology and recount
A few of the supervisors on Friday asked Liddy to explain to the public how they could not issue a recount of votes in the county, even if they wanted to.
State law outlines what triggers a recount, and no one can ask for one, Liddy told the supervisors.
The supervisors had elections staff explain the hand count audit that was done in accordance with state law, which included ballots from 2% of vote centers. The ballots were selected randomly by representatives of all major political parties, who oversaw the audit.
The supervisors asked numerous questions to try to assure the public that the technology used to count ballots accurately counted votes.
That included an explanation of why Sharpies were used on Election Day and why that was the preferred pen for ballot tabulating machines, how questionable marks on ballots were reviewed by a bipartisan team for intent, how encrypted thumb drives are used to transfer results, and how computers that hold results cannot be connected to the internet.
Supervisors said they hoped that people with questions about the integrity of the process were watching the meeting.
Supervisor Bill Gates said the county has created a “model of bipartisanship” for how to run elections.
He and other supervisors thanked county staff for their work ensuring a fair election.
“You got an incredible challenge,” Gates said. “You dealt with it incredibly well.”