Arizona GOP plans to audit Maricopa County recorder’s role in election

Nov 15, 2018, 7:45 PM | Updated: Nov 16, 2018, 12:22 pm
(Facebook Photo/AZGOP Chairman Jonathan Lines)...
(Facebook Photo/AZGOP Chairman Jonathan Lines)
(Facebook Photo/AZGOP Chairman Jonathan Lines)

PHOENIX – The Arizona Republican Party announced Thursday it was forming an independent audit of the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office’s role in the midterm election.

Chairman Jonathan Lines said he’s asked Phoenix attorney Stephen Richer to conduct the audit with Phoenix law firm Statecraft PLLC advising.

Lines told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Friday that he decided to form the audit after receiving complaints and concerns from residents about the voting process.

“On top of (Maricopa County Recorder) Adrian’s (Fontes) emergency vote centers and it seemed like maybe a coordinated effort with the (Sen.-elect Kyrsten) Sinema campaign encouraging people to show up to vote at emergency vote centers without ID, we just decided to take a holistic approach to everything,” he said.

“And get to the bottom and get some real facts so first and foremost we can be accountable to the voters and let them know there were or weren’t problems with the process.”

But Fontes, whose office continues to count ballots, was unfazed by the announcement.

“I haven’t bothered to read the press release, I don’t have time for political games,” he said in a statement to KTAR News 92.3 FM on Thursday.

“We are focused on finishing this election.”

The Arizona GOP’s daily email on Friday said the auditor would soon be setting up a website where Arizonans can submit information that could be useful to the audit.

Lines said he wants to perform the audit ahead of the next election in order to be prepared as well as restore voters’ faith in the election process.

“When they hear and see irregularities, they ask themselves, ‘Why should I bother to participate in this process?’ and oftentimes stay home,” he said.

“We want to make sure that the election integrity is in tact and the voters know that their vote matters.”

It’s not the first time the state GOP has taken issue with Fontes’ office during what’s turning out to be a disappointing election for Arizona Republicans.

A day after the Nov. 6 election, the GOP filed a lawsuit alleging Maricopa and Pima counties were improperly allowing fixes to ballots that had signatures that didn’t match the voter registration signatures.

Before a hearing scheduled two days later, a settlement was reached in the case. As a result, recorders in all state counties were given until Wednesday to “cure” early ballots that had discrepancies in the signatures. The settlement only impacted a few thousand ballots.

Afterward, Fontes told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mac & Gaydos that the settlement was an “affirmation” of his office’s practices.

Counting has continued on early ballots that weren’t tabulated before Election Day or were dropped off at the polls.

As the outstanding ballots have been counted, three high-profile statewide races swung toward Democrats after Republicans were leading.

In the U.S. Senate race, Kyrsten Sinema overtook and defeated Republican Martha McSally.

Also, Democrat Kathy Hoffman defeated Frank Riggs for Arizona superintendent of public instruction.

A third Democrat who trailed on Election Day, Katie Hobbs, is poised to clinch the victory in the secretary of state race over Republican Steve Gaynor.

After results were released Thursday, Hobbs led by more than 13,000 votes with fewer than 100,000 ballots left to be counted statewide.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Jeremy Foster contributed to this report. 

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Arizona GOP plans to audit Maricopa County recorder’s role in election