Myth 1: 74,000 more mail-in ballots were counted in the November 2020 General Election than were sent. FALSE
FACTS: Voters in Maricopa County may vote early or on Election Day. If a voter chooses to vote early, they may cast a mailed ballot or vote in person prior to Election Day. In both of these
cases, the voter is casting an early ballot. For the November 2020 General Election, Maricopa County had 2,364,426 requests for an early ballot and 1,918,024 early ballots returned either by mail or voting in-person early.
The claim that Maricopa County had 74,000 more mail-in ballots than requests appears to be incorrectly calculated by comparing two files that are created
during early voting, the EV32 and EV33 files. Created daily, the EV32 file is a listing of all voters that requested an early ballot on that day, while the EV33 file is a listing of all voters
that returned a ballot on that day. State law requires the County prepare these daily files for the County political parties during early voting. The EV32 file must be created up until 11
days prior to Election Day, which is the last day a voter can request a ballot in the mail. The EV33 files must be created up until the day before Election Day.
Any voter who cast an early ballot in person after Oct. 23, 2020 would not be included in the EV32 file and any voter who dropped off an early ballot on Election Day would not be included in the EV33 file. Any comparison using these files to find the total number of early voters would lead to inaccurate results. The “voted file” provides the full accounting of voters that cast a ballot in Maricopa County.
Myth 2: Maricopa County’s Tabulation System is connected to the internet and was hacked during the General Election. FALSE
FACTS: This is false. Maricopa County uses an air-gapped system, meaning its tabulation equipment is never connected to the internet and is completely separated from the Maricopa County network. There are no routers connected to the system and there never have been.
Two separate federally certified Voting System Testing Laboratories independently confirmed that the system is not connected to the internet. In February 2021, they tested the equipment and found no evidence of internet connectivity. The firms also confirmed that there was not any malicious software or hardware installed on the tabulation equipment.
These tests determined the tabulators were not transmitting information outside the closed air gapped system within the County tabulation center or while being delivered, returned, or used at a Vote Center.
See a network diagram of the Election Management System here.
As a best practice, we are always preparing for potential issues that could impact elections. In advance of the 2020 general election, our Information Security Department implemented additional security controls to both prevent and detect unauthorized access to our website. In conjunction with our strategic partners, on November 2, 2020 we were able to quickly detect that an individual was programmatically accessing the county’s website and accessing publicly available information. We immediately worked to stop the access and put additional security measures in place to ensure it does not happen again. No services to voters were impacted. The County’s website is in no way connected to the air-gapped system in the secure tabulation room where ballots are counted.
Learn More Watch More
Myth 3: Since the County does not have Dominion’s administrative security token and password, County Election Officials did not configure the tabulation equipment for the 2020 Elections. FALSE
FACTS: County Election Officials program and configure the election. County staff have the expertise, passwords, and security tokens needed to program, configure, and prepare the tabulation
equipment for an election. The County provided the Senate with the security token and related passwords that were used to configure the November 2020 General Election. Dominion’s administrative token and security password
can be used to update the firmware on the tabulators. Any changes to the firmware must go through federal and state certification and testing. The County does not need to have access to these security protocols to conduct elections.
Myth 4: The County does not change its Election Management System passwords. FALSE
FACTS: Maricopa County has a robust set of security controls to prevent unauthorized access to its Election Management System (tabulation system). This includes maintaining the tabulation system and central count equipment
in a secure ballot tabulation center with access controlled by badge readers. Only staff members who have a direct responsibility are provided access. The tabulation center is monitored by cameras 24 hours a day and seven days a week.
We also use a series of passwords that provide different levels of access to tabulation systems and equipment.
To access each tabulator, an operator needs a series of two passwords and a security token (key). Prior to each election, we change the password that is used to access the election program and to tabulate ballots.
In addition, ballots are only tabulated when political party observers are present. The political party observers verify that the total number of ballots tabulated on each tabulator at the beginning
and ending of each shift. At the end of each day, the totals are reconciled. This process independently validates that ballots are only counted when political party appointees are observing the process.
Myth 5: By not updating the tabulation equipment with windows updates or security patches, the tabulation equipment is at risk. FALSE
FACTS: The U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s Testing & Certification Program (Version 2.0, Section(s) 1.16, 3.42, 3.43) requires that any software and
security updates to tabulation equipment must first be authorized by the tabulation vendor and thoroughly tested by certified Voting System Testing Laboratories. If Maricopa
County were to implement a software or security update without it being tested and approved by the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission, the County’s tabulation equipment would
lose its federal and state certification. This is not only a requirement, but it’s also a best practice prior to implementation to ensure that each update does not pose a risk to the tabulation system.
To ensure security vulnerabilities are not introduced after a tabulation system is certified, the county also maintains an air-gapped network.
Myth 6: Maricopa County relaxed signature verification requirements. FALSE
FACTS: At no point during the 2020 election cycle did Maricopa County modify the rigorous signature verification requirements. Any suggestion to the contrary is categorically false.
Maricopa County follows rigorous state signature verification guidelines and staff receives training prior to elections to ensure compliance.
In June 2020, all full-time staff members that perform signature verification in Maricopa County completed a statewide signature verification certification course offered by the Associated Forensic Laboratory, LLC.
Myth 7: Maricopa County’s ballot duplication process allowed illegitimate ballots to be counted. FALSE
FACTS: At no point were illegitimate ballots duplicated or inserted into the duplication process. To ensure ballots can be counted for voters that are in the military, temporarily overseas, vote using a large print or braille ballots, or who return a ballot too damaged to be read by a tabulator, Maricopa County duplicates these ballots. During the duplication process, the Elections Department assigns a matching serial number to both the original and duplicated ballot. This number can be used to compare the original ballot with the duplicated ballot.
The accuracy and completeness of Maricopa County’s duplication process was confirmed in court (Ward v. Jackson) where the plaintiffs randomly sampled 1,626 of the 27,000 duplicated ballots. The Arizona Supreme Court affirmed the lower court ruling, “conclude[ing], unanimously, that . . . the challenge fails to present any evidence of ‘misconduct,’ ‘illegal votes’ or that the Biden Electors
‘did not in fact receive the highest number of votes for office,’ let alone establish any degree of fraud or a sufficient error rate that would undermine the certainty of the election results.” (Ariz. S. Ct., December 9, 2020)
There may be some instances where the serial number was printed over the timing mark on the original damaged ballot. Since the duplicated ballot and not the original is tabulated, the added serial number overlapping a timing
mark does not impact tabulation. When reviewing the randomly sampled duplicated ballots in Ward vs. Jackson, we were able to find and reconcile the serial numbers for all ballots reviewed.
Myth 8: VoteSecur paper has a special coating that prevents bleed through and Maricopa County used thinner paper for Election Day Voters. FALSE
FACTS: Maricopa County used 80lb VoteSecur paper for every ballot (early, Election Day, provisional and accessible voting devices) in the November 2020 General Election. According to the manufacturer, the VoteSecur paper that the County
used in the November 2020 General Election has no special properties that would prevent bleed through. Because ballots are designed with offset columns, ink that bleeds through the ballot does not impact tabulation.
Myth 9: Sharpies caused overvotes on Election Day ballots. FALSE
FACTS: Sharpies do not invalidate ballots. Leading up to the 2020 March Presidential Preference Election, the Elections Department did extensive testing on our new tabulation equipment using different types of ink and paper weight.
The manufacturer also recommends Sharpies, as it provides the fastest-drying ink, a necessity on Election Day to ensure the ink dries before voters place their ballots into the tabulation equipment. If the ink smudges on tabulators, it can be a major cause of delays at voting locations. Because federal law requires counties to work to avoid long voting lines, we used the fastest drying ink on Election Day. Voters casting an early ballot may use Sharpies or ballpoint pens, since early ballots are signature verified and processed, allowing the ink plenty of time to dry before being tabulated at the Elections Department.
In addition, Maricopa County designs the ballot with offset columns, ensuring ink that bleeds through the ballot does not impact tabulation. People who voted early could use Sharpies, or other types of ink.
The Elections Department programs the tabulation equipment to accurately tabulate ballots based on the location of the ovals and the offset columns. This accuracy was verified through Logic & Accuracy tests,
a hand count audit performed by the political parties, and post-election audits performed by EAC certified voting testing laboratories. This is evidence by the fact that that there were only 5,002 overvotes on the presidential contest out of 2,089,563 total ballots cast. This small percentage (.2%) is fewer than in prior elections that had a presidential contest on the ballot. When reviewing Election Day ballots, there were 233 overvotes out of 167,878 ballots. This represent an even smaller percentage at (.1%) of the total Election Day Ballots.
#SharpieGate was already debunked in court.
Myth 10: Private donations from Mark Zuckerberg and others impacted the election results. FALSE
FACTS: Maricopa County used four grants in the November 2020 election, all approved in public meetings. Two grants were from non-profits, one was a state-funded grant and one was CARES funding from the federal government.
Those grants were used to fund projects and services beyond the baseline budget, which was approved by the Board of Supervisors in 2019, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The grants enhanced the county’s plans and did not dictate how the county would spend the funds.
Maricopa County transformed our election model to ensure we could safely and securely serve voters in the 2020 Primary and General Elections. These plans, approved well before the election, included finding voting locations that were large enough to accommodate
physical distancing, increasing the number of early voting locations to give voters additional options, providing voters who traditionally vote in person information about how to vote by mail, and more.
Below are the four grants and some additional information about each one:
CARES Funding - A grant from the federal government that awarded Maricopa County $5 million. The majority of this funding was spent on purchasing PPE, renting retail space to serve as Vote Centers, renting additional space for full time and temporary early voting staff for physical distancing, bio-fogging all of our offices
once a week, and teleworking equipment and additional cyber security infrastructure around teleworking.
AZVoteSafe - A grant from the Governor’s Office that awarded Maricopa County $2.2 million. We spent these funds primarily on poll worker overtime. In a traditional election, most poll workers are paid for training and Election Day. But, with the expanded election model, instead of just one day, most of our poll workers were
hired for 1-3 weeks, with few days off. Because of the long hours and additional days, poll workers qualified for overtime pay.
The Center for Tech and Civic Life - A grant from a non-profit that awarded Maricopa County $3 million. Some of the budget items included:
- Online training technology for poll workers
- Salaries for increased temporary staff
- Mileage for troubleshooters and couriers
- Additional ink and toner for ballot printing at Vote Centers
- Breakroom tents and generators to allow warehouse and temporary staff to physical distance during meal breaks
- Additional mailers to inform voters about the voting options
USC Schwarzenegger Institute - A grant from a non-profit that awarded Maricopa County $42,000. We spent the grant on the costs associated with drive through drop box locations including:
- Pop up tents
- Courier salaries and mileage
- Drop box worker salaries
- Ballot security measures
- Lighting rentals
Myth 11: Maricopa County deleted the SQL database prior to providing it to the Senate. FALSE
FACTS: Maricopa County did not delete files when preparing the subpoenaed SQL server for delivery. The modified date of April 12, 2021 shown in images provided by the Senate’s contractors was the day the County powered down the server to prepare it for delivery to the Senate.
In a technical response, Maricopa County confirmed that the original database folder on the “EMSPrimary” server was not deleted or otherwise tampered with during packaging and delivery to fulfill the Arizona Senate’s subpoena.
There are several indicators on the R-Studio screenshot that the Senate’s contractors did not properly reconstruct the “EMSPrimary” servers RAID array. This could result in the R-Studio Data Recovery Technician program not being able to accurately translate the parameters of server’s RAID array partition schema.
Learn More Read the technical document
Myth 12: Maricopa County did not provide the Senate with early ballot envelope images. FALSE
FACTS: As commanded by the subpoena, Maricopa County provided the Senate with early ballot envelope images.
All of the ballots counted in the 2020 November General Election have been removed from their affidavit envelopes, which makes it impossible to tie the ballots back to a specific voter. Arizona's Constitution entitles every voter to a secret ballot, which is why the county puts no identifying information on a voter's ballot.
Myth 13: 3,981 voters were registered to vote after the deadline in violation of an Arizona Supreme Court ruling prior to the election. FALSE
FACTS: Our analysis of the voter rolls found no evidence of any ballot counted from a voter registered after the voter registration deadline. The courts extended the General Election voter registration deadline to October 15, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. Only voters whose forms were received by the deadline were eligible to vote in the election. Between the original Oct. 5 deadline and the court ordered extension, the county received approximately 18,529 voter registration forms. Voter registration staff completed processing the forms around October 23.
If any of the voter registration forms were incomplete or deficient, elections laws and policies require that the county put the voter on suspense. The county notified these people of the issues and ways to rectify their registration form in order to be officially added to the voter rolls. In these cases, once we receive the correct information, they are officially added to the voter rolls. State law dictates that the voter would be considered registered from the date they submitted their original registration form.
Additionally, there were approximately 7,605 provisional ballots that were cast and ultimately rejected because the voters were not eligible to vote in the election. However, there were 6,198 voters that cast provisional ballots, these were researched and found to meet the legal eligibility requirements, including that those voters were registered to vote before the registration deadline. Those ballots were counted as part of the official returns for the November General Election.
Myth 14: 11,386 November General Election voters were illegally allowed to vote because they were listed on the December 2, 2020 voter file but not listed on the November 7, 2020 voter file. FALSE
FACTS: Our review of the Nov. 7 and Dec. 2 files from 2020 found that every voter on the Dec. 2 voter file that was legally given credit for voting during the November 2020 General Election was registered by the October 15 deadline. It’s important to note that Arizona law allows provisional ballots to be processed up to 10 business days after the election. The Nov. 7 file would not have included all provisional ballot processing results.
It is common for a voter that was previously on suspense or in an inactive status to vote provisionally and cure their registration status and be added back to the official active voter rolls. Additionally, voters that cast a provisional ballots that are rejected often complete new voter registrations and appear on the voter rolls in subsequent months.
Myth 15: Maricopa County committed fraud because 18,000 people voted on Election Day but were subsequently removed from the voter rolls. FALSE
FACTS: Maricopa County has over 2.6 million registered voters and it is not unusual for there to be tens of thousands of changes to the voter rolls each month. In fact, our analysis of the actual voter registration database confirmed that there were 13,320 voters removed from the voters rolls between November 3, 2020 and January 2, 2021. The majority (7,916) of these removals were because a voter moved out of Maricopa County or passed away during this period. The remainder (5,404) were for situations such as felony convictions, adjudicated as incapacitated, or by the request of the voter to be removed from the rolls.
Myth 16: Maricopa County has not complied with the Senate’s subpoenas. FALSE
FACTS: The Arizona Senate commanded the County to turn over all election equipment, ballots and other election materials through a subpoena issued on January 12, 2021. On January 15 and 21, the County provided thousands of documents including tabulator audit, administrator security, windows event logs and the cast vote records. In February, a court ruled that the subpoena was valid, and the County turned over the nearly 2.1 million General Election ballots, 385 Election Day tabulators, nine central count tabulators, and more than eight terabytes of data.
Of the 56 categories subpoenaed, Maricopa County has complied with or sought additional information for every item that was included in the Senate’s January subpoena except one: Maricopa County routers. Learn more about why here.
Find a complete accounting of the information here.
Another subpoena was issued on July 26, 2021. Find the County’s response here.