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Election Integrity Win: Arizona Court Rules Against State's 'Unlawful Signature Matching Process'

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The public interest group Restoring Integrity and Trust in Elections declared it had secured a “massive win” for election integrity following a Friday Arizona court ruling in its favor.

In March, RITE sued Democratic Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes arguing his office’s Elections Procedures Manual violates the law regarding the mail-in ballot signature verification process.

“While state law requires county recorders to match mail-ballot signatures with signatures in the voter’s ‘registration record,’ the Secretary instructed them to use a broader and less reliable universe of comparison signatures,” the group said in a Monday news release.

“That means the Secretary was requiring ballots to be counted despite using a signature that did not match anything in the voter’s registration record. This was a clear violation of state law,” RITE asserted.

In a Friday ruling rejecting a motion to dismiss the case filed by Fontes and the group Mi Familia Vota, Yavapai County Superior Court Judge John Napper agreed with RITE’s conclusion concerning the law.

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The court said that the “statute is clear and unambiguous” requiring “the recorder to review the voter’s registration card” and not other documents with the voter’s signature.

Napper further noted, “There is no ambiguity in the statute or process.”

Further, the secretary’s signature-match process in the Elections Procedures Manual unlawfully “contradicts the plain language” of Arizona state law by permitting signature comparison with documents that have “nothing to do with the act of registering.”

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Derek Lyons, president and CEO of RITE, responded court’s ruling, saying in a news release, “RITE will build on this victory to continue to fight in court for elections that are administered according to democratically enacted laws, not illegal partisan commands.”

“This is a huge victory toward securing the elections that Arizonans deserve, which are elections they can trust,” Lyons added.

Kari Lake, the 2022 Republican nominee for governor, is currently suing Fontes and Maricopa County officials regarding the signature verification process the county employed in November’s election.

At a trial in May, an expert witness for Lake testified that based on his examination of computer user logs he determined that approximately 70,000 mail-in ballots were reviewed for signature matches in less than two seconds.

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And that seven of the ballot reviewers had a 100 percent approval rate.

The statute at issue provides that election officials “shall compare the signatures thereon with the signature of the elector on the elector’s registration record.”  If the ballot envelope signature and the signature on file do not match, the county is to reach out to the voter and seek to confirm the person’s identity.

“Seventy thousand [mail-in ballots] in less than 2 seconds a ballot,” Lake attorney Kurt Olsen said. “That’s not signature comparison in accordance with 16 ARS 550.”

A Maricopa County judge ruled against Lake in May saying the law does not specify how long a reviewer must take to verify signatures.

Lake has appealed the case to the Arizona Court of Appeals.

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Randy DeSoto has written more than 3,000 articles for The Western Journal since he joined the company in 2015. He is a graduate of West Point and Regent University School of Law. He is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths" and screenwriter of the political documentary "I Want Your Money."
Randy DeSoto is the senior staff writer for The Western Journal. He wrote and was the assistant producer of the documentary film "I Want Your Money" about the perils of Big Government, comparing the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. Randy is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths," which addresses how leaders have appealed to beliefs found in the Declaration of Independence at defining moments in our nation's history. He has been published in several political sites and newspapers.

Randy graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point with a BS in political science and Regent University School of Law with a juris doctorate.
Birthplace
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Nationality
American
Honors/Awards
Graduated dean's list from West Point
Education
United States Military Academy at West Point, Regent University School of Law
Books Written
We Hold These Truths
Professional Memberships
Virginia and Pennsylvania state bars
Location
Phoenix, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Entertainment, Faith




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