Arizona GOP Accuses County Recorder of Destroying Evidence as Votes Counted in Tight Senate Race

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Posted: Nov 09, 2018 5:05 PM
Arizona GOP Accuses County Recorder of Destroying Evidence as Votes Counted in Tight Senate Race

The chairman of the Arizona Republican party Jonathan Lines accused Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes of destroying evidence Friday by not separating ballots from “emergency voting centers” which state Republicans are challenging as the vote count is ongoing in the tight Senate race between Rep. Martha McSally (R) and Democratic candidate Rep. Kyrsten Sinema.

In a Sunday letter, the GOP wrote to all of the recorders that “state law does not allow recorders to offer early voting after the Friday prior to Election Day except in specifically-defined emergency situations."

However, "the Maricopa County Recorder's Office offered 'emergency voting' from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Monday for voters who could not make it to the polls on Election Day," according to the Arizona Republic. "The Recorder's Office said it allowed voters to determine what constitutes an emergency."

The GOP asked Fontes and other recorders to "identify and segregate" the ballots cast at emergency voting centers, thought to be about 3,000 in Maricopa County.

Lines says Fontes ignored their request and mixed the ballots.

"Adrian Fontes intentionally put himself above the law and the judicial process," Lines claimed. "Such a man cannot be trusted to administer elections in Arizona. We are reviewing all legal options at this time and will continue to protect the rights of every legal voter in Arizona."

Fontes would not say whether ballots from the emergency vote centers were "segregated" but told the Republic that it would be "nearly impossible" for him to do so, claiming the ballots cast on Saturday are “likely already combined with other ballots cast at early voting locations.”

Republicans also filed a lawsuit Wednesday against county recorders over the way in which they’re counting mail-in ballots. The lawsuit, filed by Republican parties in four counties, challenged the manner in which counties verify signatures on the mail-in ballots.

They say county recorders don't keep to a uniform standard when it comes to allowing voters to adjust problems with mismatches between the signature on file and the signature on the ballot.

Some county recorders contact voters by phone to verify they signed the ballot envelope.

GOP groups are asking a judge to halt the counting of mail-in ballots, claiming the process violates a state law that election-related calls can only be made before an election is held.

“A foundational principle of American democracy and our justice system is that all votes are treated equally,” Jonathan Lines said Thursday of that lawsuit. “It is not fair nor just that voters in one county are treated differently under the law from other voters in Arizona.”

"If they really thought this was illegal conduct, they should have or would have gone to court much earlier," an attorney with Sinema told the Republic. "But they're waiting for the 11th hour and they're trying to set up a challenge to a policy that's been in place for decades, and only based on whether or not they can gain an advantage on it."

As the counting continues, Sinema’s small lead over McSally is narrowing.

President Trump weighed in on the controversy Friday.