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Maricopa County investigation into printer issues during 2022 election finds ‘equipment failure’ at fault

<i>Matt York/AP</i><br/>In this November 2022 photo
Matt York/AP
In this November 2022 photo

By Shania Shelton, CNN

An independent investigation conducted by former Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Ruth McGregor found that older printers and longer ballots printed on heavier paper were to blame for a printer issue at several precincts in Maricopa County that prevented some ballots from being properly scanned on site during Election Day 2022.

The independent investigation and report mark the latest move by officials in the state’s most populous county to refute conspiracy theories about the printer problems.

Republican Kari Lake, who lost her bid for governor in 2022 and has espoused stolen election claims, is among the GOP candidates who have claimed that the Election Day problems in Maricopa County contributed to their defeats. On Twitter, Lake called the investigation a “waste of taxpayer money” and said the county’s elections are “a mess.”

The investigation found that some of the older printers “could not maintain the heat required” for consistently printing dark ballots for the on-site tabulators but were “taken back to the Elections Department where they were successfully tabulated and counted,” according to a news release from the county.

“All legal ballots were counted and included in the official results, but the printer issues caused frustration for many Election Day voters, something the Board has vowed to remedy,” the county said.

The report included recommendations for the county, including replacing printers and using previous ballot paper that was shorter and weighed less.

“It shows that two things can be true at the same time: our elections team prepared well for the 2022 General Election and had every reason to trust our procedures and equipment,” Maricopa County Supervisor Bill Gates said in the news release. “And yet, we can do better knowing what we know now.”

On Election Day, a Republican activist posted a video to Twitter showing a Maricopa poll worker explaining there was a problem that could cause delays. It caused former President Donald Trump’s allies to zero-in on Maricopa County, Arizona’s most populous county, and use social media to fuel doubts about the vote machines while suggesting fraud had taken place.

Trump wrote on his social media network that “they are trying to steal the election with bad Machines and DELAY.” And Charlie Kirk, the founder and president of right-wing group Turning Point USA, tweeted a false claim about two-hour wait times in Maricopa County the afternoon of Election Day.

Although Republicans tried to extend polling hours by three hours because of the voting machine issues on the night of the election, a county judge denied the bid.

The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office issued a letter weeks later stating that the problems with the printers did not prevent voters from lawfully casting their ballots in Arizona’s most populous county.

Maricopa County was also at the center of election denier claims following Joe Biden’s win over Trump in the 2020 election. Republicans pushed to undo Maricopa’s election results, including hiring two firms to audit the county’s elections equipment and software, which found no problems, and issuing subpoenas for the county’s ballots and other materials.

Arizona state Senate Republicans went on to hire the company Cyber Ninjas to conduct a monthslong, partisan review of the 2.1 million ballots cast in Maricopa County. The final report showed that the results of reviewers’ hand recount were nearly identical to the county’s tally.

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CNN’s Fredreka Schouten contributed to this report.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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