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Pima County Attorney finds 'confusion' drove voters to cast multiple ballots, declines to bring charges

After reviewing 115 incidents of local voters casting multiple ballots in the 2020 election, the Pima County Attorney's Office said Friday that the incidents were the result of "confusion" and did not warrant criminal charges.

The ballots were not counted in the final tally of votes in November 2020, and did not impact the election results, said Pima County Attorney Laura Conover.  

Conover said that while her office "documented instances of these voters knowingly submitting more than one ballot, there is little to no evidence that they acted with the awareness that their actions would or could result in multiple votes being counted."

"What our investigation revealed was the genuine confusion about the electoral process, particularly relating to mail-in and provisional ballots, and the genuine fear, for a variety of reasons, that their initial vote would not count," she said.

"To be clear, the additional ballots cast in these incidents were not counted in the final tally of votes and did not impact the election results for any candidate or ballot measure, and PCAO uncovered no conspiratorial acts in the incidents investigated," Conover said.

The accuracy of election has become a major point of contention as Republican supporters of Donald Trump, furious over President Joe Biden's win by more than 10,000 votes in Arizona, have attacked the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential and U.S. Senate elections. Other elections, including numerous House races that saw GOP candidates win, have not endured the same scrutiny from Republicans.

The Trumpist attempts to cast doubts on Arizona's elections include the shambolic "audit" of Maricopa County's election results that was refuted by the GOP-controlled Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and the county's Republican county recorder.

Nonetheless, Republicans seeking office in Arizona's state elections have glomed onto the idea that the presidential election 14 months ago was flawed, and have moved to dismantle the state's mail-in electoral process and sought to limit voter registration. 

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Trump's loss in 2020 is expected to a major theme of a rally he is set to stage in Florence on Saturday.

In October, the ex-president claimed that 2020 election in Pima County was "rigged and stolen" telling supporters via email that there were "staggering anomalies" in Pima County's election.

Trump's claims were called "batshit crazy" by Supervisor Sharon Bronson, chair of the Pima County Board of Supervisors. A longtime local GOP activist and election analyst, Benny White, called the accusations by Trump backers "total BS."

Arizona Attorney General—and Republican Senate candidate—Mark Brnovich has sought to investigate claims and voter fraud. Since 2010, the Attorney General's Office has pursued 33 cases of voter fraud, including 13 since 2020.

Among these cases were five indictments filed against people in Pima County for allegedly voting illegally while they were inmates at the Pima County jail. Four of them registered as Democrats, according to public records, and allegedly voted in 2020 illegally. A fifth, registered as a Republican in Pima County in July 2018, and allegedly voted illegally in the 2020 general election.

Conover said that the 151 incidents in Pima County were first investigated by then-Pima County Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez in December 2020, shortly after the general election. Following that investigation, the Elections Law Unit at the Pima County Attorney reviewed the incidents before forwarding evidence to a unit dedicated to fraud, she said.

Among the incidents, 23 were committed by registered Republicans, and 15 registered Democrats. The remainder were committed by independents, or unaffiliated voters.

Conover, a Democrat who was picked by voters in that same election, outlined three incidents that illustrated voters' mistakes.

In one, a Tucson man admitted to filling out two ballots after he filled his first ballot and then lost it. "He and his wife looked all over the house for it and along Craycroft Road near his house before requesting a second ballot, which he completed and mailed in," Conover wrote. "He believes someone found his initial ballot and mailed it in for him."

In the second case, a Tucson woman put her ballot in the mailbox on Columbus Day, and after realizing it was a holiday, she checked her mailbox and found the ballot was gone. Suspecting that her ballot had been taken, she requested a replacement ballot, and mailed it in.

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In the third incident, a first-time voter went to the precinct near his parent's home, and was told he wasn't on the roster and given a provisional ballot. However, he was also advised to go to the precinct near his residence to vote, so he did.

"He said he knew he wasn’t supposed to cast more than one vote but didn’t know where he was supposed to vote," Conover wrote. 

Conover said that the statute applied in these cases requires prosecutors to prove that someone "knowingly" voted more than once in any election. "Thus, without fraudulent intent, there is no substantial likelihood of conviction of any of the voters investigated in these incidents," Conover wrote.

"I'm proud of the dedicated and laborious work done by so many different units in our office, from our detectives to the Elections and Fraud units," she said. "Truly, they were protecting the very heart of democracy and confirming that the Southern Arizona vote was free of interference. I can't think of more noble work."

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2 comments on this story

Jan 15, 2022, 3:07 pm
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“Among the incidents, 23 were committed by registered Republicans, and 15 registered Democrats. The remainder were committed by independents, or unaffiliated voters.”

Jan 15, 2022, 7:29 am
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I couldn’t find anyone on the ballot that I wanted to vote for once. Congratulations to these voters on finding someone they would vote for twice.

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