Kari Lake Trial Testimony Reveals What Election Officials Did After Verifiers Were Sent Home Early


Arizona Republican Kari Lake came out swinging on Day 1 of her lawsuit challenging the outcome of the 2022 gubernatorial election that was called for Democrat Katie Hobbs.

On Wednesday, whistleblowers questioned by Lake’s attorney, Kurt Olsen, recounted alarming irregularities in the signature verification process for mail-in ballots in Maricopa County that, if true, compromised election integrity.

Maricopa County, which includes the Phoenix metro area, represents 60 percent of Arizona’s registered voters.

One whistleblower — identified by the Arizona Republic as Jacqueline Onigkeit — testified that signature verifiers were sent home early without explanation and vote-counting was then moved to the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office, where the signature review process was done without designated signature verifiers present.

“Were you told why the normal Level 1 reviewers were told to go home after 7 p.m. and the signature review function was performed at the county recorder’s office?” Olsen asked the witness.

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“No. We just — we thought it was odd,” the witness said.

“Why did you think it was odd?” Lake’s attorney asked.

She replied: “Well, because we had observers that were constantly watching what we were doing [at the designated vote-counting area]. But there was, I’m assuming, no observers there [at the recorder’s office] who was watching what they were doing.

“We thought they would come to where we worked at. Maybe they set up in a different area for them to verify signatures. But they didn’t. They just told us they had the regular county recorder employees working signature [verification] to try and get through all of those.”

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In other words, signature verifiers for mail-in ballots were sent home before all the votes were examined. The signature verification process was then, for some unexplained reason, moved to the county recorder’s office from the original designated area.

The remaining votes were then counted without the presence of designated signature verifiers, according to the Onigkeit.

Why was the signature verification done without designated observers present? Why did election officials move the operation to the county recorder’s office? Who authorized the move?

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Moreover, Lake’s attorney said the signature verification process in Maricopa County was done sloppily and inhumanly fast.

The signature verifiers “are not physically capable of reviewing a signature — both from the standpoint of being able to do an assessment with respect to the procedures, but also with respect to the functionality of the computer when the images,” Olsen said at trial.

“You have to scroll down to check the record signature. You don’t see the scrolling down function [being done].”

Olsen continued: “What that log data shows, your honor, is that over 274,000 ballots were approved at less than 3 seconds each. That includes one signature verifier, who approved 100 percent of the 26,900 signatures that he verified at less than 3 seconds a signature.

“Maricopa’s log file data shows that 11 of these signature verification workers approved 170,000 signatures at a rate of between 0 and 2.99 seconds, with a 99.97 percent approval rating. That’s not signature review, your honor … Simply flashing a signature on the screen, clicking a button and moving on is not signature review.”

According to the Republic, Rey Valenzuela, the director of elections for Maricopa County, testified about the discrepancy in the two signature verifiers on Wednesday.

“First-level reviewers look at batches of 250 signatures twice, he said, a first time that requires scrolling to see comparison signatures on file, and a second time to make sure they made a determination on each of the 250 ballots,” the outlet reported. “That second look could happen quicker, he said, adding that Olsen was taking the video out of context.”

The Republic also reported that Tom Liddy, civil division chief for the county attorney’s office, said a supervisor who monitored the first-review signature verification for the county removed the signature verifier seen in the video Olsen presented in court.

Maricopa County is already under fire for the bizarre mishaps that occurred on Election Day in November, including widespread voting machine malfunctions and printers that spat out errors and rejected ballots in Republican counties.

Whistleblower testimony this week in Lake’s lawsuit has done little to allay voter concerns about the integrity of the election.

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