Fact Check: Video Does NOT Show Maricopa Officials Breaking Into Election Machines -- It Shows Routine Pre-Election Installation

Fact Check

  • by: Alexis Tereszcuk

STORY UPDATED: check for updates below.

Fact Check: Video Does NOT Show Maricopa Officials Breaking Into Election Machines -- It Shows Routine Pre-Election Installation Out In Open

Does a post show "new video evidence" of Maricopa County election officials breaking into sealed election machines? No, that's not true: The "new" video is a recording of a 2022 public live stream of the Maricopa County, Arizona, election headquarters where workers were installing new memory cards into the ballot tabulators prior to the November 2022 election, the spokesperson for the Maricopa County Elections Department told Lead Stories. Arizona Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson has ruled this and other claims of election-rigging were without merit.

The claim appeared in a video (archived here) where it was published on Instagram on May 28, 2023. The caption on the video read:

BREAKING New *video evidence* of Maricopa election officials illegally breaking into sealed election machines after they were tested, re-programming memory cards, and reinstalling them
59% of these machines would shut down on election day in GOP areas They've been CAUGHT

This is what the post looked like on Instagram at the time of writing:

image - 2023-05-30T153552.417.png

(Source: Instagram screenshot taken on Tue May 30 13:33:15 2023 UTC)

The video sound is only music but the footage shows people in a room with what appears to be electronic ballot tabulators. The date at the lower right hand corner of the screen in the footage says 10-14-2022.

Matt Roberts, communications manager for the Maricopa County Elections Department told Lead Stories via email on May 30, 2023, that the video does not show a "secret test" of tabulation equipment:

The video shows the installation of new memory cards into the tabulator which happens in each election. These memory cards had previously been certified through the statutorily required logic and accuracy testing.

Roberts continued:

This process was conducted under the live stream video cameras in the County's Ballot Tabulation Center. Which is the opposite of secret. After the running of test ballots, tabulators are zeroed to ensure no votes were stored on the memory cards. The tabulators are subsequently affixed with tamper-evident seals and prepared for delivery to each Vote Center where poll workers perform a verification to ensure that there are not ballots recorded on the tabulator and that all results equal zero.

Maricopa County's official Twitter account posted a message regarding the false claims on May 30, 2023:

Maricopa County's legal filing explained the tabulator process in the lawsuit that was filed by Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake. The court documents are dated May 10, 2023, and the explanation begins on page three:

No "Secret" Testing Occurred.
Next, Lake falsely alleges that the County conducted "secret" testing of the vote
center tabulators used on Election Day on October 14, 17 and 18, and that 260 of the 446
tabulators failed this secret testing. [Motion at 2, 14-15; see also id. at 10 (stating that
"[i]ntent can be inferred from Maricopa's surreptitious means").] Besides being laughable,
this allegation is flat-out wrong. As Scott Jarrett explains in his Declaration, on October 14,
17, and 18, the County installed new memory cards, containing the certified Election
Program that had undergone the logic and accuracy testing, on each of its tabulators. [Ex. A
to this Response, Jarrett Decl., ¶ 14.] This process was conducted under the live stream
video cameras in the County's Ballot Tabulation Center (the "BTC") in the Maricopa County
Tabulation and Election Center ("MCTEC"). [Id.] When installing the memory cards, the
County tabulated a small number of ballots on each tabulator to be certain that the memory
cards had been properly inserted. [Id., ¶ 15.] This, too, was done under the live stream video
cameras. [Id.] This was not done in secret; it was not "testing;" and it was not misconduct.

The judge ruled against the defeated Republican gubernatorial candidate, who alleged the election had been rigged to hand her opponent the win. In a judgment issued May 26, 2023, Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson declined to sanction Lake's attorney for bringing false claims, but reiterated that Lake's claims were without merit.

"This looks like the ordinary process that every single jurisdiction goes through, after logic and accuracy tests (which apparently occurred in Maricopa County on October 11, 2022)," David J. Becker, executive director and founder of the nonpartisan Center for Election Innovation and Research, told Lead Stories via email on May 31, 2023. He explained more about the process seen on the video:

Those tests confirm the machines are operating correctly, in front of public observers, and after that, the county would need to swap out the memory cards and replace them with new, clean cards before sealing the machines and sequestering them securely before use in the election.

There is literally nothing in this video that seems suspicious, including the fact that this process was videoed so it could be observed. Put simply, claiming anything in this video is "evidence" of any kind of malfeasance is disinformation.

Other Lead Stories articles on claims about elections in Maricopa County are here.


  • 2023-05-31T22:36:27Z 2023-05-31T22:36:27Z
    Adds comment from David J. Becker, executive director, Center for Election Innovation and Research.

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  Alexis Tereszcuk

Alexis Tereszcuk is a writer and fact checker at Lead Stories and an award-winning journalist who spent over a decade breaking hard news and celebrity scoop with RadarOnline and Us Weekly.

As the Entertainment Editor, she investigated Hollywood stories and conducted interviews with A-list celebrities and reality stars.  

Alexis’ crime reporting earned her spots as a contributor on the Nancy Grace show, CNN, Fox News and Entertainment Tonight, among others.

Read more about or contact Alexis Tereszcuk

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