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Maricopa County Election Director Accidentally Drops 2020 Bombshell During Kari Lake Trial

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Maricopa County Elections Director Reynaldo Valenzuela testified at Republican Kari Lake’s election challenge trial Wednesday that mail-in ballot reviews were done at election officials’ homes in 2020 with no observers present.

Valenzuela also confirmed officials still have the ability to do so now.

Lake is contesting Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs’ win last November by approximately 17,000 votes, or 0.7 percent of the more than 2.5 million ballots cast statewide.

In March, the Arizona Supreme Court remanded the issue of whether the mail-in ballot legally mandated signature verification process was followed in Maricopa County during the election back to the trial court.

Lake attorney Byran Blehm questioned Valenzuela regarding the places where mail-in ballot verification took place in November and whether independent observers were present.

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Valenzuela said there were three locations where mail-in verification took place: Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center, known as MCTEC in downtown Phoenix; the Maricopa County Recorder’s office, also in Phoenix; and Maricopa County’s Southeast Regional Center in Mesa.

Whistleblower Jacqueline Onigkeit, who worked as a ballot reviewer at MCTEC in November, had testified before Valenzuela that she thought it was “odd” when she and her fellow reviewers were sent home at 7 p.m. as counting continued of mail-in ballots.

“Why did you think it was odd?” Lake attorney Kurt Olsen asked.

“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,” she replied.

In light of this testimony, Blehm questioned Valenzuela whether observers are allowed in the county recorder’s office or at the Mesa location.

Valenzuela responded that observers are allowed in “any general area,” but it’s not a legal requirement.

He went on to explain that as a “certified election officer” he and others can do signature verification in their offices with no observers present.

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Blehm followed up asking, “Can signature verification be done at a Maricopa County employee’s home?”

Valenzuela answered saying, “We don’t have that currently in place,” but during 2020 with the pandemic ongoing, the county allowed reviewers to work from home.

Blehm continued with this line of questioning Thursday asking Valenzuela, “Is it physically possible [now] for Maricopa County employees to log in and conduct signature verification from home?”

The elections director responded, “An employee can log in and access their PC as if they were sitting in front of that PC remote, that are assigned those work stations,” but indicating that is not protocol.

Approximately 80 percent of Arizonans vote using mail-in ballots, according to the Citizens Clean Elections Commission.

Lake’s attorney Kurt Olsen has argued that the process for verifying voters in Maricopa County is systemically flawed.

On Wednesday, he told that court that a review of data from the county showed at least 334,000 mail-in ballots were in effect not verified, which is far in excess of Hobbs’ 17,000 vote margin of victory.

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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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