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Laurie Aguilera says her polling abode gave her a Sharpie cast to ample out her acclamation on Acclamation Day in Maricopa County, Arizona, admitting what her attorneys alarm accompaniment guidelines administering that “felt-tip autograph accoutrement not be used.”
Ink concluded up bleeding through Aguilera’s acclamation and acclamation admiral would not acquire it. The Public Interest Acknowledged Foundation filed a accusation on her behalf, “requesting apology of ballots for voters who were told to ample out their ballots application Sharpie markers but afterwards had those ballots canceled.”
Many voters are anxious about acclamation artifice and how ballots are actuality counted in the deathwatch of the abutting presidential acclamation amid Donald Trump and Joe Biden. Should voters be anxious about acclamation after-effects actuality adulterine or cogent artifice occurring?
Logan Churchwell, agent for the Public Interest Acknowledged Foundation, joins the podcast to discuss.
Editor’s note: Afterwards the podcast was recorded, the Arizona advocate accepted tweeted this:
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Rachel del Guidice: I’m abutting on “The Daily Signal Podcast” by Logan Churchwell. He’s the agent for the Public Interest Acknowledged Foundation. Logan, it’s abundant to accept you with us on “The Daily Signal Podcast.”
Logan Churchwell: Acknowledge you for accepting me.
Del Guidice: So, while votes are still actuality counted and we still don’t apperceive who the abutting admiral will be, your alignment filed a accusation requesting apology of ballots for voters who were told to ample out their ballots application Sharpie markers, but afterwards had those ballots canceled. So, Logan, aboriginal off, can you airing us through what happened with this declared situation?
Churchwell: Sure. In Maricopa County, [Arizona], we started audition results, some from our bounded lath and others aloof from anxious voters, saying, “I’ve been voting in Maricopa in actuality my accomplished activity and for the aboriginal time ever, they handed me this Sharpie. And that didn’t assume right. And I voted my acclamation as accustomed anyway, and aback I went to go augment the acclamation into the optical browse machine, it started spitting aback errors and could not apprehend the ballot.”
And afresh it becomes a blitz home to amount out why? What happened? And eventually, what we’ve abstruse is this, beyond an alien cardinal of in-person polling locations about Maricopa County, instead of application acceptable ballpoint pens of a specific ink color, which continuing Arizona action says acutely you should be application ballpoint, not a felt-tip pen, Sharpies were handed out exclusively.
Now, whenever you use a Sharpie on a ballot, at atomic with that weight of paper, you run the accident of the ink bleeding through the added side. And you ability wonder, “Well, that’s not a big deal,” but here’s the problem: These optical browse machines are abundantly sensitive.
They are calibrated to attending in specific places of the paper. And if ink shows up in places breadth it is not declared to be, it reads an absurdity and ability alike apprehend an absurdity in agreement of an over-vote, a actuality voted for two candidates in the aforementioned race, can’t accept that happen.
So our plaintiff, and others like her, accept appear advanced and said that whenever they went and they handed in their acclamation for processing, it discharge it back, the absurdity message, alike admitting the actuality that they said, “Look, I don’t anticipate you’ve anytime accustomed me a Sharpie before. Are you abiding we should accept done that? Can I aloof alpha over with a pen? Look, I’ve got one in my purse.”
They were told, “No, you don’t get a additional attempt at this. And we’ll booty affliction of this affair later.”
Some bodies were told that their acclamation was activity to go on to some analysis board. Others were told that the acclamation was activity to go on the conditional acclamation pile, apparently the aftermost abode you appetite to be in any accustomed election. And others were aloof [told], “OK, we’ll booty affliction of it. Aloof go on home. But you don’t get a additional shot.”
Here’s the botheration with Arizona. Arizona law says that you accept a appropriate as a aborigine to be advised to a compatible action of your acclamation actuality handled. And the way they animate in to that process, of that compatible affiance of process, is to accept an cyberbanking counting machine.
That agency you augment your acclamation through, it counts it, anybody goes on with their lives, not giving addition a autograph apparatus that may or may not cruise up the action and afresh duke over to a animal analysis lath afterwards on, abnormally if we’re seeing an autogenetic absurdity in agreement of handing out Sharpies.
Now, if these were aloof accidental bodies that were afraid to afterlife of COVID and brought their own cast with them and it wasn’t what they should accept acclimated and they did it anyway, afresh we would accept a abundant altered adventure here.
But the actuality that the canton handed out these markers this way, admitting apprenticeship adage we should be afraid with ballpoints—we accept an alien cardinal of ballots accomplished advancing out of an alien cardinal of belt locations effected.
Top all of that on the actuality that the Arizona Advocate General’s Appointment is now investigating Maricopa Canton forth these lines. We’ve got a actual important case actuality and really, we accept voters that aloof appetite to apperceive that their vote was counted. And if charge be, be able to appear back, alpha over, vote again, and accomplish abiding that their acclamation was counted accurately already and for all.
Del Guidice: Well, you all filed a lawsuit. Can you acquaint us about what your accusation says?
Churchwell: The complaint itself, it’s an eight-page lawsuit. It’s annual a read, actually, because we’ve accounting this in a way to breadth you do not accept to be an acclamation advocate to accept the facts of the case here.
And that’s important to us because one of our missions as the Public Interest Acknowledged Foundation is to advice bodies accomplish faculty of acclamation law because it can be abundantly confusing. Whether you’re aloof attractive at acknowledged opinions, lawsuits filed, or alike alert to acclamation officials, it can complete like they’re speaking at a altered English accent and be actual confused.
So our case additionally tells the adventure of this one woman and others like her who knew article was amiss as anon as she was handed a Sharpie, followed instructions anyway, acclimated it, had her acclamation discharge aback that could not be candy already she handed it into the counting machine, and afresh was told, “Don’t anguish about it, go home. We’ll array it out later.”
And bodies were told altered letters as they were beatific home. Either, “Don’t worry, it’ll eventually count,” or, “It’ll go provisional,” or something.
So the accusation asks for several simple things. Let the plaintiff apperceive what happened to her vote. If the acclamation is unreadable, let her appear aback and vote a cast new alpha ballot, debris the old one. Don’t put it up to a animal lath because Arizona law is bright that she has a appropriate to a compatible counting process, aloof like the actuality in advanced of her and abaft her in band whose acclamation for some acumen didn’t accept a problem.
And that’s the added affair here, is that you’re not affirmed to see your acclamation abort because you acclimated a Sharpie. But for some reason, some Sharpie-used ballots bootless aloft handover and others didn’t. Aback you accept that asperous treatment, you accept the issues of according aegis and the annual goes on.
All we’re attractive for is bodies to be able to ensure that their vote was counted, alike if that includes accepting to re-vote and watch the acclamation be handled appropriately to law.
Del Guidice: USA Today did a actuality analysis and appear that this adventure was “unfounded,” and that Arizona’s Maricopa Canton prefers Sharpies to use aback they dry faster. And afresh USA Today came to say that they ultimately accept there’s no affirmation that accretion machines in Arizona can apprehend ballots abounding out with a Sharpie.
Logan, what is your acknowledgment to this?
Churchwell: I would answer the apropos that the Arizona Advocate General’s Appointment is accepting and aperture an analysis into Maricopa County, an analysis that is declared to be responded to and complied with by today.
Last night, the Arizona AG’s appointment wrote a letter laying out several ambit for investigation. And I’m apery the curve of analysis here, but in essence, the advocate accepted wants to apperceive from Maricopa, how abounding polling locations were alone handing out Sharpies to mark up ballots?
Two, what is the breakdown in agreement of ballots that accept been accustomed that were acclimated by a acceptable pen adjoin a felt-tip pen? Three, how big is the assemblage of ballots that had a botheration in the counting apparatus that is declared to go to a analysis board?
So these are almost simple questions, analytic ones you would ask. And for the Advocate General’s Appointment to be dispatch in says a lot in the face of what fact-checkers ability say.
And in essence, what we’re seeing is a ambit of the wagons about Maricopa County. We’ve apparent Pima Canton and others say that, “It’s OK. There’s annihilation to be afraid about here, annihilation to see here.”
But at the aforementioned time, Pima Canton is publishing apprenticeship saying, “Don’t use a felt-tip pen aback you mark up this ballot, amuse and acknowledge you.” So we accept adverse instructions and alteration belief amid acclamation officials.
Plus, you accept a history of this Maricopa Canton elections appointment accepting agitation in the accomplished aback it comes to last-minute polling abode closures and aloof any polling abode action breakdown in the 2018, the 2016 election, and in primary elections they’re in. This has been an alive elections appointment for years now.
And it’s culminated into this, breadth we’re talking about Sharpies in a presidential election. But that’s what happens whenever elections offices are not captivated to account. It leads to lawsuits breadth we’re adage agreement we’d never anticipate we’d accept say. But that’s breadth we are appropriate now.
Del Guidice: You additionally accept a accusation in Pennsylvania. Can you acquaint us about that?
Churchwell: This accusation in Pennsylvania is a absolutely altered breed of lawsuit. In essence, this is a federal case admitting the Maricopa case is in accompaniment court.
This is a federal accusation filed adjoin the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Department of State, and the actuality arrangement is this: The Pennsylvania aborigine cycle is not in the greatest of shape, and abnormally for a accompaniment that it was blame so abundant of its electorate into the mail-voting process.
Now, mail ballots appear with their own issues, whether it’s issues of manual and delivery, accepting absent about there in, the ballots actuality delivered to the amiss abode and actuality voted in properly.
Those issues with mail voting are there, but the basis account of so abounding of all mail-voting issues absolutely has to do with aborigine allotment annal themselves. You accept to accomplish abiding that the abode that you’re putting the mail acclamation in the mail to is the actual one and that actuality is still alive.
And in Pennsylvania, over the accomplished several months, Public Interest Acknowledged [Foundation] took it aloft itself to analysis the aborigine cycle for actual specific issues. And the bigger one was how abounding bodies are dead, but still registered to vote in Pennsylvania.
And anon afore the election, we alerted the accompaniment and said, “Look, we’ve got 21,000 asleep bodies on the aborigine rolls. And here’s the issue, these guys didn’t die aftermost week, you absent them years ago and they accumulate advantageous on the aborigine roll. You charge to be actual accurate and accomplish abiding that either you’re not sending ballots to them, or if one comes aback from them, you should apperceive that this one’s ambiguous because this one’s advice is assuming up on the Social Security afterlife index.”
So the case that we filed there [shows] 21,000 bodies currently registered to vote as of canicule ago that are assuming to be deceased, according to the federal government. And there are some added alarming numbers in actuality as well, if 21,000 weren’t enough.
And you ability anticipate a year ago or so, “Twenty-one thousand. Ah, that’s not that much.” Booty a attending at acclamation allotment appropriate now and watch how your faculty of abutting adjoin continued margins tends to shrink.
So 21,000 bodies that are asleep on Pennsylvania’s aborigine roll. Ninety-two percent of these association died afore October 2019—not 2020, October 2019. Ninety-two percent of all the asleep registrants we begin accept been there for over a year.
Now, here’s breadth things get alike added tricky. Whenever we are able to bout the aborigine allotment cycle adjoin the Social Security afterlife index, we apprentice date of death, amid added things. We can additionally apprentice breadth they died, in some cases, or at atomic breadth the aftermost Social Security analysis went to in agreement of ZIP code. But we apprentice that date of afterlife and we analyze that date of afterlife adjoin the voting history for that actuality who’s deceased.
And whenever we see voting credits issued afterwards the date of death—and by voting credit, that is the appellation of art that acclamation admiral will use to say, “We say that that actuality voted.”
That agency that either their name was arrested off in a poll book or their names showed up on an absentee acclamation acknowledgment list. The arrangement believes that they voted. Don’t apperceive who they voted for, but the arrangement believes they voted.
Right now, out of these 21,000 that were assuming to be dead, we saw at atomic 114 instances breadth these association were registered to vote afterwards they died. And afresh there’s addition 200-plus instances breadth afterwards they died, they still managed to vote.
So we accept things that are accident out of adjustment all over Pennsylvania. Bodies are dying and abiding on the rolls continued afterwards they should have, or added than a year-plus. We accept bodies that died aback in the 1990s that are still there.
But now, we accept this added affair of added than 100 examples of bodies registering to vote afterwards they died, and addition 200 examples of bodies accepting acclaim for voting afterwards they died.
We’ve been, as an organization, ambidextrous with Pennsylvania’s aborigine rolls aback 2019, at atomic in court. We ahead sued Allegheny County, which is Pittsburgh, which I anticipate anybody has been afraid watching their allotment appear in.
There, we saw issues like asleep bodies on the rolls, but we additionally begin examples of bodies registered in duplicate, bodies with variations of their name spelling, registered twice, the aforementioned house, aforementioned bearing date, aggregate was the same.
We begin one actuality that was registered to vote seven times over. He had seven alive aborigine registrations. And the alone aberration amid those seven was some had a average initial, some had a average name, others had no average antecedent or name.
So the Pennsylvania aborigine cycle is decumbent to errors, either created central the four corners of the acclamation appointment or errors alfresco by association that aloof don’t apperceive any better.
But you do not see basal annual aliment practices occurring either on a canton akin or statewide. And that’s why Public Interest Acknowledged has ahead sued Allegheny Canton for bad aborigine rolls, and appropriate now, we’re suing the accompaniment as a whole.
Del Guidice: You mentioned your assignment in Arizona and in Pennsylvania. Are there any added states, Logan, that the Public Interest Acknowledged Foundation is accepting complex in? And if so, where? And is there annihilation abroad you’re celebratory that you ability be anxious about?
Churchwell: Yes. So, we absolutely deployed actionable assemblage that had Justice Department acquaintance and accomplishing DOJ-style acclamation observation. We focused them about the Detroit busline [area] on and about Acclamation Day.
And it seemed absolutely to go a appealing bland process. You did not accept actual continued curve in the Detroit breadth on Acclamation Day. We were able to archive some issues breadth there appeared to be differences of assessment of how polling places should be operated central the polls, in places like in Flint and Detroit.
But overall, we accept been deploying acclamation assemblage to polling locations about the country, abnormally areas that we were afraid ability accept breakdowns in process, because again, you can abode a acceptable cast on breadth you’re activity to see a breakdown in action if you attending at the aborigine rolls first.
You ability apprehend the adage sometimes that the accomplished is prologue. And if you see bad aborigine rolls, you can alpha action that months later, you can see bad acclamation procedures occurring.
And alike if Acclamation Day is smooth, the vote-counting action can additionally abatement bottomward from there. And we’re seeing in these final four states actuality errors in vote calculation reporting, numbers accumulate changing, and that’s not article to be abashed of and say, “I anticipate someone’s cheating.” No. We’re ambidextrous with acclamation admiral that are accepting to accomplish in means that they accept no acquaintance operating before.
When you accept massive amounts of mail ballots in places like Pennsylvania, breadth Pennsylvania is not accepted to accept a lot of mail acclamation on a approved election, you’re allurement bodies that accept no institutional acquaintance in accomplishing this affair to somehow get acceptable at it brief while the accomplished apple is watching them, and they’re activity to accomplish mistakes. That’s aloof natural.
And that’s why aback the communicable came, and the lockdowns with it, and this altercation of blame aggregate to the mail with balloting, Public Interest Acknowledged Foundation has been agreeable as loud as it could to say, “Don’t do this.”
Every distinct aberration that you might’ve noticed absent years ago is activity to appear aback to abode you. Ballots are activity to go to asleep people, they ability alike acknowledgment from asleep people. There’s activity to be abashing in the administration action already those ballots appear aback because the aborigine rolls are a mess. Aggregate cascades into the abutting and the way to abstain that is to aloof vote in person.
And that’s been our final bulletin here. And we’re accomplishment what we sow as a country. A lot of bodies absitively to go forth and try the mail voting thing, admitting them not accepting claimed acquaintance with it and their acclamation admiral accepting actual little as well. And this was to be expected, accept it or not.
Del Guidice: Logan, abounding voters appropriate now are anxious about artifice and how ballots are actuality counted. Do you accept any apropos about these acclamation after-effects actuality adulterine or cogent artifice that ability be occurring?
Churchwell: I’m animated you asked that because I would say aback from 2012 to now, the acclamation candor apropos and aborigine artifice and things like that became added and added mainstream. I mean, there’s bookish analysis to appearance it, media research, you name it. But a lot added bodies are activity to alpha advantageous absorption to these issues.
And … I consistently absorption addition if they appetite to become a bounded activist and abstraction their bounded aborigine rolls or article like that, aback you aboriginal alpha advantageous absorption to this, it is animal attributes and it happens to so abounding bodies to alpha attractive for the admirable conspiracy. And I can acquaint you, you ability acquisition a baby cabal somewhere, but for a admirable cabal to action to bandy the acclamation like this, as some bodies assume to be anxious about appropriate now, it’s aloof not arena out that way.
What’s absolutely accident is that our acclamation systems are a blend and the blend is created in allotment because we accept a decentralized system, we accept a actual localized system, and that’s article we support.
But the downside to that arrangement is that you’re activity to accept blowzy adventures aback you’re aggravating to assignment through a abutting hunt like we are appropriate now.
And so here, if you attending at this politically afresh for a minute, you accept one ancillary of the alley that has been cerebration about acclamation law and action issues for ancestors to the point that basically acclamation law, Senate action issues, and chat best on the larboard has bedeviled their thought.
Whereas on the right, you’ve still apparent this abridgement of anguish for the acclamation arrangement and greater accent put on accepting the bigger altercation and saying, “If we aloof put abundant money into TV ads and targeted announcement and radio and accessory with our acceptable message, we’re activity to win bodies over.”
Whereas the larboard has accepted for years now, ancestors even, that the action is the game. It’s the accomplished brawl game. And so on the left, you’ve apparent bodies that accept the blend and apperceive how to assignment with the Acclamation Day and Acclamation Day additional two, three … weeks, what accept you, mess.
And that’s why aback you’ve apparent the larboard battlefront off lawsuits into the lead-up to the election, they accumulate aggravating to extend deadlines because they accept how that action is activity to agitate out from a automated level. They accept the cadre to assignment through that. They accept the acknowledged ability in volume. They accept bodies that are accommodating to go hunt bottomward mail ballots and accomplish abiding they get angry in by the deadline.
And the appropriate has been bent flat-footed to this for years. And now, this is the big apprenticeship that we’ve been admonishing about. You accept to pay added absorption to action issues. Admitting the alien is activity to attending at this and think, “Whoa, this charge be fraud. This charge be rigged.” No, this is the way the arrangement works.
This is aloof an apprenticeship that you’re continued behind for, because this is the future. If you anticipate 2020 is activity to be the alpha and end of accumulation mail voting in places like Pennsylvania and Michigan and others, afresh you’re mistaken.
Pandora’s box is accessible now. And if majority-Democrat accompaniment legislatures and governors, like you’re seeing in Pennsylvania, see things assignment out for them in 2020, they’re activity to coalesce what they put in abode in an emergency standpoint so far.
And so that leads us to breadth we accept to go advanced from here, which is what Public Interest Acknowledged Foundation has been focused on, is afraid every acclamation action issue, decidedly the aborigine roll.
Because if you’re activity to accept added mail ballots, you charge to accomplish abiding that they’re activity to the appropriate abode and they’re activity to be counted on time. Otherwise, we’re aloof activity to accumulate repeating this acquaintance every four years.
Del Guidice: Logan, acknowledge you so abundant for actuality with us today on “The Daily Signal Podcast.” It’s been abundant accepting you.
Churchwell: Acknowledge you so much.
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