Do ballots cast by people not on the voter rolls in Maricopa County, Arizona, constitute evidence of fraud in the 2020 election? No, that's not true: People can cast provisional ballots, which are only counted if it's determined that the voters are eligible to vote, according to county officials. Such people would then be added to the rolls at a later date.
The claim was implied in a meme (archived here) on Facebook on July 15, 2021. The meme was one in an apparent series by The America Project, an organization created by Patrick Byrne, the former CEO of Overstock.com. The meme has "The American Project" spelled out and circled with stars in the upper right-hand corner. The group promotes the idea that the 2020 election was stolen or rigged and raises money to help fund audits, like the one taking place in Maricopa County. The meme reads:
GUILTY! ARIZONA SENATE DEBUNKS THE LEFT'S 'BIG LIE'
THESE VOTERS WERE NOT ON THE VOTER ROLES ON NOV 7
This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:
(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Mon Jul 19 15:58:29 2021 UTC)
Marked "Guilty" and "The Left's Big Lie," the claim states more than 11,000 people voted in the 2020 election when they weren't on the rolls. The clear implication is that this fact constitutes fraud. That's not true.
County officials addressed the meme on Twitter, stating that the allegation is likely referring to provisional ballots. More than 18,300 provisional ballots were cast in the 2020 general election in Maricopa County, which rejected more than 7,600 of them because the people who cast them were not registered to vote. The meme does not mention the 40% of provisional votes that were disallowed. Here's what the county wrote:
These go through a rigorous verification process to make sure that the provisional ballots cast are only counted if the voter is eligible to vote in the election. This happens after Election Day. Only eligible voters are added to the voter rolls.-- Maricopa County (@maricopacounty) July 16, 2021
And later, it added:
It is possible for a voter to not be on the voter rolls, vote a provisional ballot, receive credit for voting, that ballot not actually be counted because they voted provisionally, and then later show up on the voter rolls.-- Maricopa County (@maricopacounty) July 16, 2021
In other words, people can cast provisional ballots when they're not on the rolls. Doing so doesn't necessarily mean that their votes will be counted. They still have to go through a verification process; only eligible voters have their ballots counted.
The memes from The America Project were created in the aftermath of an Arizona Senate briefing on the election audit in Maricopa, Arizona's most populous county. The July 15, 2021, public hearing was billed as an update on the audit, which was commissioned by Republicans in the state Senate and carried out by an IT company called Cyber Ninjas. The audit was ongoing at the time this fact check was written.
Lead Stories has previously reported on two of the other memes. One claimed that more than 74,000 mail-in ballots were received and counted than were mailed out for the election in Maricopa. That's not true. County officials say the true tally shows there were 446,000 fewer returned votes than requested ballots.
The other meme claimed that ink bleeding through ballots could have an impact on vote tallies in Maricopa. That's also not correct. Even if a voter's ballot marks do bleed through from one side of a ballot to another, they don't impact the tally, according to county officials. Officials point to the fact that the ballots have off-centered columns, so any potential bleeding from one side of the ballot won't accidentally fill out ovals on the other side.