PHOENIX — Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich believes Maricopa County demonstrated "serious vulnerabilities" in its handling of the 2020 presidential election.
In a letter to Arizona Senate President Karen Fann, Brnovich recently offered an update on his agency's review of the findings Fann delivered him back in September.
Fann spearheaded a months-long review of the county's election results after President Joe Biden narrowly defeated Donald Trump in Arizona. The Senate's partisan-led audit still determined Biden won more votes than Trump, yet Fann passed along the review to Brnovich for further investigation.
Maricopa County has repeatedly defended its handling of the 2020 election and rejected suggestions of widespread fraud.
Brnovich told Fann his office's investigation is "still developing" but suggested the county may have allegedly not followed "critical procedures" while transporting ballots during the 2020 election.
"We can report that there are problematic system-wide issues that relate to early ballot handling and verification, Brnovich wrote in the letter.
Brnovich, who is running for the U.S. Senate this year, made several legislative suggestions to Fann, including passing a law that gives his office civil subpoena powers.
Perhaps the most notable criticism Brnovich makes in his letter involves chain-of-custody procedures. The attorney general accused the county of transporting thousands of ballots without showing proof that proper custodial measures were followed.
In response to Brnovich's letter, Maricopa County Supervisor Bill Gates and County Recorder Stephen Richer said in a statement that Brnovich had not identified even a single instance where a ballot was accepted with a non-matching signature.
"The Maricopa County Elections Department ensures ballots are tracked and security is upheld. Our records confirm that tamper-evident seals were secured on every dropbox. We can account for every ballot that was delivered to the Elections Department, whether it was returned in a dropbox, voted in-person early, mailed back to us, or voted on Election Day," the statement reads.
The attorney general has acknowledged filing criminal charges against nine people across the state for voting crimes stemming from the 2020 general election, where more than 3.4 million ballots were cast. Of those cases, just two were in Maricopa County and both involve people who illegally completed the ballot of their parent, who died shortly before the election.
One woman awaits sentencing on a reduced felony charge, and the other already has completed probation she received after pleading guilty in December. Brnovich’s office revealed that case on Wednesday, but did not say how the crime was discovered. The first case came to light after a citizens group scoured lists of recently deceased people who may have voted and handed it over to the attorney general.
Following an extensive internal review of its election, the Maricopa County Elections Department turned over to Brnovich in January 38 cases of potential voter fraud it uncovered while reviewing its 2.1 million ballots from the 2020 general election. They included five people who may have voted in more than one county and six who may have voted twice in Maricopa County. The county also located 27 voters who may have died before their ballots were returned in the mail.
Death records are automatically sent to state and county election officials so their voter registrations can be canceled, but if they happen within two months of an election it is possible a relative can return their mail ballot envelope. That’s what happened in most of the cases The Associated Press has tracked from the 2020 election. The other charges are from felons allegedly voting.
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