Arizona Republican Party Asks Maricopa County Judge To Order Review Of Overvotes

By Ben Giles
Published: Friday, November 13, 2020 - 7:45am
Updated: Friday, November 13, 2020 - 7:56am

Voters enter a polling station Dove of the Desert United Methodist Church in Glendale
Sky Schaudt/KJZZ
Voters enter a polling station in Glendale, Arizona, on Nov. 3, 2020.

Attorneys for the Arizona Republican Party and President Donald Trump’s campaign asked a judge Thursday to order overvotes cast on Election Day in Maricopa County to be re-examined, but only if the number of overvotes identified in a specific partisan race exceeds the margin of victory.

The request is narrower than the relief sought in their initial complaint, when attorney Kory Langhofer wrote that “up to thousands” of votes for Trump and other GOP candidates may have been wrongfully rejected as overvotes.

→ What Is The Trump Campaign Claiming Happened To Votes In Arizona?

An overvote occurs when someone selects too many candidates for a specific race on their ballot — for example, if someone fills in ovals for two presidential candidates.

Attorneys for Maricopa County election officials provided evidence that shows overvotes were few and far between.

As of Thursday, they identified 191 cases of an overvote for presidential candidates, and a total of 961 overvotes in partisan races.

County attorneys urged Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Daniel Kiley to reject the Republicans’ request. 

Attorneys for the Arizona Democratic Party and Secretary of State Katie Hobbs also urged Kiley to reject the request.

Collectively, those attorneys argued that Trump’s lawyers failed to prove there was widespread or systematic fraud in the way votes are counted — claims that have been amplified outside of court by Trump himself and Kelli Ward, the head of the state Republican Party.

Attorneys also argued that the relief sought by Republicans is not prescribed in Arizona law. Instead, the judge would be ordering a change in the way votes are counted — only in Maricopa County — after the election, based solely on the outcome of the election.

Maricopa County attorney Thomas Liddy compared it to an umpire altering the way balls and strikes are called depending on the score of the game. 

“Government employees, be they Republicans or Democrats or independents, have no business looking at the results of elections to determine how to treat ballots,” he said.

→ Q&AZ: Where Do Arizona Ballots Go After The Election?

Attorneys for the county and secretary of state also sought to dispel the notion that, as some witnesses who were called to testify feared, that their votes weren’t counted because poll workers pressed a green button to accept their ballot.

When tabulation machines at polling places identify overvotes on ballots, poll workers are trained to let the voter know they have two options: Voters can fill out another ballot to correct the issue, or they can submit the ballot -- in that case, all other votes on the ballot will be counted. The race where too many candidates will be counted as an overvote.

Langhofer, the attorney for Trump and the Arizona GOP, called some witnesses who testified that they weren’t given that choice by poll workers.

One voter, Luciano Amoroso, said that the tabulation machine did indicate he’d overvoted in a race, but a poll worker hit a green button on the tabulation machine to cast his ballot before he could decide what to do. That meant Amoroso doesn’t know which race the tabulation machine identified as an overvote.

However, Amoroso also testified that he only voted for one presidential candidate.

Other witnesses, too, testified they were sure they didn’t cast any overvotes, despite having concerns with how poll workers treated their ballot and fears that their votes were rejected.

Langhofer said asking to double check those votes in races where the outcome could shift is reasonable.

“If it has no effect on the outcome, we’re not asking them to spend the time doing this,” he said.

While questioning attorneys for the county and secretary of state, Judge Kiley sounded concerned that some voters weren’t made aware of their options, as poll workers are trained to do.

But the judge also rejected some evidence Langhofer sought to offer the court that was collected by the Trump campaign online, at donttouchthegreenbutton.com.

The website sought declarations from Arizona voters who had issues with overvotes at the polls. But Langhofer admitted that some evidence gathered from the website was not submitted to the court because it was known to be false. As for the declarations the Trump campaign tried to submit in court, Langhofer argued they were presumptively true.

Judge Kiley took the case under advisement.

→ More Arizona Election News

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