Report: 740,000 Maricopa County 2020 ballots lack chain of custody documentation

by WorldTribune Staff, February 8, 2022

The required chain of custody documentation is missing for 740,000 Maricopa County, Arizona ballots from the 2020 election, an election integrity research group reported.

“Records used to document retrieval of early voting ballots from vote centers and drop box locations reveal numerous violations of Arizona election law,” Verity Vote reported after conducting an investigation of Maricopa County’s ballot chain of custody for the 2020 General Election.

Verity Vote reported that its representatives submitted Public Records Requests for all ballot box retrieval and chain of custody forms utilized in Maricopa County during the 2020 General Election.

“Early Voting Ballot Transport Statements (EVBTS) are required every time ballots are retrieved from a vote center or drop box,” the report, published on Jan. 25, said.

Election law requires that two couriers from different political parties transfer the EV ballots. The law also requires the county to record the number of ballots retrieved from each location. Maricopa County officials report that EVBTS forms are completed by ballot couriers at least once every day that a vote center or drop box is open. The Maricopa BeBallotReady website promises ballot security and proper chain of custody.

Maricopa County reported that 923,000 EV ballots were accepted at 2020 General Election vote centers or drop box locations. Verity Vote’s investigation found that Maricopa County lacked chain of custody documents for at least 740,000 of those EV ballots.

Of the 1,895 unique EVBTSs turned over to Verity Vote, more than 80 percent of the documents “have defects that violate Arizona law,” Verity Vote said. “Some of the most significant violations include documents with failure to record the number of ballots retrieved and documents that reveal a failure to assign two couriers for each ballot retrieval.”

The “most egregious violations,” the report said, was the failure to count the ballots and record the number of ballots retrieved from each ballot drop box location.

“This specific requirement of Arizona law was disregarded by the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office,” Verity Vote said. “The EPM clearly says that when the secure ballot container is opened by the County Recorder or officer in charge elections (or designee), the number of ballots inside the container shall be counted and noted on the retrieval form. In the cases where a single courier is recorded as retrieving ballots, the Recorder’s office was responsible for scheduling a two-person team for ballot retrieval.”

Verity Vote added: “These violations of the law are so egregious and so widespread that they demand accountability. Arizona laws designates each violation as a class 2 misdemeanor.”

The violations identified by Verity Vote “are important because failure to maintain chain of custody and properly document ballot retrieval and transport makes it impossible to verify the origin of the ballots counted in an election. Arizona Law outlines specific requirements for secure ballot retrieval and chain of custody procedures for the transfer of voted ballots from drop boxes and vote centers,” the report said.

Liz Harrington, spokeswoman for former President Donald Trump, noted Verity Vote’s finding was included in state Rep. Mark Finchem’s resolution to decertify Arizona’s 2020 election.

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