HomeNewsElection Director Accidentally Drops 2020 Bombshell During Kari Lake Trial

    Election Director Accidentally Drops 2020 Bombshell During Kari Lake Trial

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    Wednesday, during the election challenge trial of Republican Kari Lake, Maricopa County Elections Director Reynaldo Valenzuela testified that in 2020, mail-in ballot inspections were conducted at the residences of election officials without any observers present. Valenzuela stated that there was no oversight from the general public.

    Valenzuela also confirmed that officials possess the capacity to do so at present.

    Katie Hobbs, the Democratic candidate for governor, won the November election by a margin of approximately 17,000 votes, or 0.7% of the more than 2.5 million ballots cast in the state. Lake is contesting Hobbs’ victory.

    In March, the Arizona Supreme Court remanded back to the trial court the question of whether the legally required signature verification process for mail-in ballots was followed in Maricopa County during the election. Whether or not the protocol was followed was the issue at hand.

    Byran Blehm, the attorney for Lake, questioned Valenzuela about the locations of the November mail-in ballot verification and whether or not independent observers were present.

    According to Valenzuela, the verification of mail-in ballots occurred at three different locations: the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center, or MCTEC, located in downtown Phoenix; the Maricopa County Recorder’s office, also located in Phoenix; and the Maricopa County Southeast Regional Center, located in Mesa.

    Jacqueline Onigkeit, who worked as a ballot reviewer at MCTEC in November, testified before Valenzuela that she found it “odd” that she and her fellow reviewers were sent home at 7 p.m. while tallying of mail-in votes continued. During the month of November, Onigkeit was employed at MCTEC.

    “Why did you think it was odd?” Lake attorney Kurt Olsen asked.

    “Well, because we had observers that were constantly watching what we were doing [at the designated vote-counting area]. But there was, I’m assuming, no observers there [at the recorder’s office] who was watching what they were doing,” she replied.

    Blehm asked Valenzuela, in view of the previous evidence, whether observers are permitted inside the office of the county recorder or at the Mesa location.

    In response, Valenzuela stated that observers are permitted in “any general area,” but are not required to do so.

    As a “certified election officer,” he and others like him are able to verify signatures in their offices even when there are no observers present.

    In a subsequent question, Blehm inquired, “Can signature verification be done at a Maricopa County employee’s home?”

    Valenzuela responded, “We do not have that in place at this time,” but in 2020, while the pandemic was still active, the county permitted evaluators to work from home.

    Blehm resumed this line of inquiry on Thursday by asking Valenzuela, “Is it physically possible [now] for employees of Maricopa County to log in and conduct signature verification from home?”

    More on this story via The Republic Brief:

    The director of elections provided a response, which stated, “An employee can log in and access their PC as if they were sitting in front of that PC remote, that are assigned those work stations,” despite the fact that the elections director indicated that this was not standard procedure. CONTINUE READING…

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