(Note: This story comes from the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting through a Creative Commons license. AZCIR is a nonprofit investigative newsroom.)
A top staffer at the Arizona Secretary of State denied accusations made by county recorders earlier this week that the office ordered voter registrations to be cancelled without proper documentation.
In a letter delivered Jan. 23, the county recorders described their relationship with the Secretary of State’s office as “dire,” singling out “verbal abuse,” neglected duties and demands to cancel voters came without proper documentation.
Secretary of State Michele Reagan asked for an internal accounting of the accusation that her office improperly sought to have some voters removed from the rolls.
In a written explanation to Reagan, Election Director Eric Spencer said Jan. 26 that the Secretary of State’s Office received a letter from another state on Sept. 23, 2016, requesting additional information about a list of voters.
“The letter is seeking Arizona’s assistance to help the other state clean up its voter registration rolls,” Spencer explained in response to the accusations.
Spencer wrote that he and his staff then made physical copies of the letter and list, then mailed the copies to the recorders of seven counties that the Secretary of State’s Office determined were the home of the voters on the list.
However, Spencer wrote that he and his staff cannot find the original letter now, which means the office cannot say which state requested additional information on Arizona voters. He said his staff likewise could not locate that letter in October, when Gila County Recorder Sadie Jo Bingham requested additional information. Spencer and his staff even tried to ask the counties they originally mailed the letter and list to, asking them for a new copy for the Secretary of State’s office.
None of the seven counties the Secretary of State sent the letter to could find the letter either, Spencer explained.
Gila County Recorder Sadie Jo Bingham said she attempted three times to get clarification on the list of voters that she said came with no supporting documentation. Spencer also described three instances of the office trying to find the original letter. But Bingham said she spoke to Spencer on the phone on two occasions, which Spencer denied.
The Secretary of State’s office cancelled about 30,000 voter registrations between the 2016 primary and general elections, Spencer said.