Legal papers filed late Wednesday on behalf of Kelli Ward claim that the system used in Arizona to check signatures on mail-in ballots lacks sufficient safeguards to ensure that they actually came from the registered voters whose envelopes were submitted. Her attorney, Jack Wilenchik, also said that the legally required observers were unable to see the process from where they were placed.
Ward also contends that the process for dealing with damaged ballots did not result in them being accurately recorded.
She wants a court to immediately order production of a reasonable sampling of the signatures on the ballot envelopes so they can be compared to signatures on file. And Ward wants to compare those damaged ballots with the duplicates that were created by election workers to allow them to be scanned.
But the real goal is to use the information gathered in a bid to have the court set aside the results of the election.
That can happen in two ways.
One would be for a judge to conclude that, given the problems cited on matching signatures on ballot envelopes with signatures on file, “the result of the election is fundamentally unknown.” That, according to the lawsuit, would require voiding the election.
But that would not mean giving the election to Trump. That’s because there is no way of knowing whether the people whose signatures did not match – and who the lawsuit claims should never have been allowed to vote – actually cast votes for Trump, as the ballots were long ago separated from those envelopes.
What could happen, though, is with no actual election returns, the Republican-controlled Legislature could exercise its constitutional authority to make the final decision of declaring which slate of electors actually won: those pledged to Biden or those pledged to Trump.
There’s a different scenario if a judge, after reviewing the evidence of how damaged ballots were handled, concluded that votes that should have been for Trump were instead given to Biden. And that, Wilenchik said, would permit the judge to declare that the Trump-pledged electors got more votes than those pledged to Biden – meaning the former would cast the state’s 11 electoral votes.
But time is running out for Ward and the state GOP to come up with the evidence they say will reverse the election results.
Federal law requires that all challenges and recounts related to presidential elections be resolved no later than Dec. 8. The Electoral College vote is six days later.
The lawsuit in Arizona – and similar ones being crafted in other battleground states lost by Trump – is a last-ditch effort by the president and his supporters to hang on to the office for another four years.
Prior litigation here sought to show that election procedures were not followed or that counting machines did not properly record votes. But all have been dismissed after judges said challengers failed to prove their claims.
Claims of fraud raised in litigation across the nation have also been thrown out when attorneys for the Trump campaign failed to produce any evidence.
The latest Arizona suit does not make any such allegations. Instead, it claims that the procedures used failed to guarantee accurate results.
A big part of that relates to what has been a central theme of the Trump campaign: that the process for mail-in votes used in Arizona is inherently flawed.
“While Arizona has been using mail-in voting since 1992, the process has comparatively few safeguards to ensure the integrity of mail-in ballots and to protect against mistake or fraud,” Wilenchik wrote.
He pointed out that someone who wants to vote in person must provide either a photo ID or two forms of recognized identification.
By contrast, Wilenchik said, the process for mail-in votes involves someone manually checking the signature on the outside of the envelope to see how it compared with any scanned signatures on file. He said the workers doing that job typically have fewer than six hours of training.
“Further, in Arizona, copies of a registered voter’s scanned signature are publicly available from the Department of Motor Vehicles, if they have a driver’s license, among other places, making a voter’s signature relatively easy to reproduce,” Wilenchik said, adding that county workers make these decisions in “a manner of seconds.”
He acknowledged that when a worker questions a signature, a bipartisan team reviews it to determine if it actually is valid.
“However, if a county worker does not question a signature, then there is no adjudication or further review, much less by a bipartisan team, which again makes it easier for false or otherwise insufficient signatures to escape detection,” Wilenchik wrote.
He also complained that legal observers in Maricopa County were told to remain at a card table, which was at least 10 feet away from computer monitors and screens, and those monitors “were mostly turned away.”
The damaged ballots, which were rejected by machines, present a different issue.
Wilenchik said a bipartisan team of county workers would create a new “duplicate” ballot by interpreting the intent of the voter, filling in an “electronic” ballot and sending it to an offsite printing company to print a new duplicate to be run through the machine.
But he complained there were no observers at that offsite location to determine whether the new ballots were properly prepared.
And Wilenchik said software, which would try to read and prefill the rejected ballot, was highly inaccurate and would flip votes. He said that the software would “erroneously prefill ‘Biden’ much more often (apparently twice as often) as it did ‘Trump.’”