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Were 19,000 late, invalid ballots counted in the 2020 Arizona election? No, that's not true: An article making the claim relies on a report that appears to misconstrue what a particular type of receipt shows. It's a record of when election officials in Maricopa County, Arizona, gave early ballot envelopes to a vendor to be scanned, not a receipt of when election officials first came into possession of the envelopes, according to a spokeswoman with the Maricopa County Elections Department. Only ballots received by 7 p.m. MST on Election Day were counted.
The article (archived here) was published by The Epoch Times on June 1, 2022. It relied on a report by Verity Vote, which describes itself as a group of capable volunteers looking into issues of election integrity. Titled "19,000 Late, Invalid Ballots Were Counted in Arizona 2020 Election: Report," the article opened:
With the 2022 midterm elections around the corner, scrutiny of the 2020 election continues to raise questions about election integrity, including a newly identified anomaly in Maricopa County, Arizona.
Arizona Law requires that, to be considered valid, ballots must be received by the county no later than 7 p.m. on Election Day.
But newly uncovered records documenting the Maricopa County 2020 general election show that while more than 20,000 ballots were transported from the U.S. Postal Service after Election Day, Maricopa County only rejected 934 late ballots in its 'Early Voting Rejections Summary' document.
Users on social media saw this title, description and thumbnail:
Enough invalid ballots in Maricopa County to change the result of Arizona's 2020 presidential results
The full report by Verity Vote can be accessed here. It reads:
Arizona Law requires that all ballots be received by the county no later than 7pm on Election Day in order for them to be counted and valid. However, review of records from the November 3, 2020 General Election in Maricopa County shows that more than 20,000 ballots were transported from the United States Postal Service (USPS) after that deadline.
Verity Vote obtained delivery receipts from the county that show USPS ballots were received on November 4, 5 and 6. Any ballots not rejected are accepted by default and tabulated into the election results. Arizona law is clear that it is not an issue of the ballot postmark but the receipt of the ballot by the county prior to 7pm on Election Day.
The report cites certain documents from the Maricopa County Elections Department to substantiate its claim. Although the documents are real, the report appears to misconstrue what they show.
The documents in Verity Vote's report are a record of when election officials in Maricopa County gave early ballot envelopes to a vendor to be scanned, not a receipt of when election officials first came into possession of the envelopes, according to Megan Gilbertson, spokesperson with the Maricopa County Elections Department. In a phone conversation with Lead Stories, on June 3, 2022, she said:
We use another company to scan them in because we have so many, and so those are our receipts to say: 'This is what we delivered to you.'
Gilbertson stressed that only ballots received by 7 p.m. MST on Election Day were counted.
Lead Stories reached out to Verity Vote to ask about the response to its report. In an email to Lead Stories, dated June 4, 2022, Verity Vote wrote that Gilbertson's response "doesn't answer the question of when the ballots first came into the County's custody." The group added:
So, while the County's response is true, it is misleading in that it does not in any way establish receipt of USPS ballots before 7pm on Election Day.
Maricopa County has been the subject of various election fraud claims since the 2020 election. Lead Stories has debunked many of them. For example, county ballots do not have special watermarks; ballots from the 2020 election were not found shredded and trashed; ballots marked with Sharpie pens were not invalidated and there were not 'over 74,000' more mail-in ballots received and counted In Maricopa County than were mailed out.
2022-06-09T20:28:05Z 2022-06-09T20:28:05ZThis story was updated with a response from Verity Vote.