The chairman of the Arizona Republican Party is accusing a Democrat top election official in the state’s most populous county of destroying evidence of “voting irregularities,” and therefore “cannot be trusted to administer elections.”
An attorney for the Arizona Republican Party further charged at a news conference on Friday afternoon, “The Democrats are stealing this election, and we’re not going to allow it.”
Meanwhile, Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl voiced concerns that Democrats are disenfranchising voters in the rest of the state by adopting different ballot counting standards in Maricopa County, which encompasses Phoenix, and Pima County, which includes Tucson.
As of Friday afternoon, approximately 9,000 votes separate Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema over Republican Rep. Martha McSally in the race to replace retiring Sen. Jeff Flake.
McSally enjoyed a comfortable lead of approximately 17,000 votes prior to Maricopa and Pima counties updating their election results on Thursday evening catapulting Sinema into the lead.
KTAR reported on Friday that Maricopa County still has 345,000 ballots to be counted. Approximately, 75 percent of Arizonans vote by mail-in ballot, which can also be dropped off at polling places on Election Day.
Republican Party chairman Jonathan Lines voiced his objections to Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes’ failure to preserve evidence relating to what he characterized as “voting irregularities.”
“The Arizona Republican Party objects in the strongest possible terms to the deliberate, premeditated destruction of evidence by Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes,” Lines said in a statement released on Friday.
Sixty percent of Arizona’s population lives in Maricopa County.
Lines noted that the AZ GOP sent a formal, written request to all county recorders in the Grand Canyon State to preserve all evidence relating to the irregularities, but Fontes did not comply.
The irregularities included creating “emergency voting centers” in the county when no emergency existed and using an “inconsistent method” to rehabilitate ballots, so they could be counted, claimed Lines.
The Arizona Republic reported, “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. The Recorder’s Office said it allowed voters to determine what constitutes an emergency.”
The AZ GOP pointed out that Arizona law does not allow early voting after the Friday before Election Day, except in specified emergency situations.
Lines said, regarding the handling of disputed ballots that have been rehabilitated after the election, “Fontes has destroyed the evidence. He directed his office to mix disputed ballots in with the undisputed ballots — thereby ensuring that there could be no review of voting irregularities.”
He continued, “Fontes’s decision was made deliberately, after receiving the letter from the Arizona Republican Party and being informed of his legal duty to preserve evidence.”
“Adrian Fontes intentionally put himself above the law and the judicial process. 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,” Lines said.
The Washington Free Beacon reported that the Arizona Republican Party filed a lawsuit on Wednesday targeting a rule in two counties, Maricopa and Pima, that allows voters to “fix issues with their ballots” up to five days after the election.
Kyl, who was appointed to fill John McCain’s seat following his death in August, characterized the divergent conduct of the elections in Maricopa and Pima counties as a Democrat strategy to disenfranchise other voters in the state.
“Every single lawful vote in Arizona should be counted,” Kyl said in a statement. “And voting laws in our state should be applied uniformly across the map. Unfortunately, the Democrats legal strategy sounds an awful lot like an effort to disenfranchise voters from 11 counties from rural parts of our state and that’s troubling.”
Kyl previously served in the U.S. Senate from 1995 until 2013 rising to the rank of minority whip, and in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1987 to 1995.
ABC News affiliate KNXV reported that the Arizona Republican and Democratic parties reached a compromise Friday afternoon in court that will allow ballots in rural counties to be corrected and counted in the same manner they are in Maricopa and Pima counties.
A Maricopa County elections official said approximately 5,600 ballots were allowed to be corrected.
According to KNXV, approximately 400,000 mail-in ballots overall are yet to be counted in the state.
Despite currently being behind Sinema in the tally, McSally’s campaign expressed confidence their candidate will come out on top in the end, arguing among the mail-in ballots left to be counted is a tranch of approximately 200,000 ballots they expect will “strongly favor” the Republican.
President Donald Trump weighed in on the Arizona Senate race on Friday, likening it to the ever-tightening U.S. Senate race in Florida.
He said, “Now in Arizona, all of the sudden out of the wilderness, they find a lot of votes.”
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