Ari­zona AG wary of vote fraud al­le­ga­tions

Brnovich re­sponds to charges of ir­reg­u­lar pro­ce­dures

Yuma Sun - - NEWS - BY HOWARD FIS­CHER

PHOENIX — At­tor­ney Gen­eral Mark Brnovich warned Mon­day that peo­ple “need to be re­ally care­ful when mak­ing se­ri­ous al­le­ga­tions’’ about elec­tion fraud or other is­sues or risk un­der­min­ing democ­racy.

Brnovich’s com­ments came on the heels of the state for­mally cer­ti­fy­ing the re­sults of last month’s elec­tion. There were no sur­prises in the le­gally re­quired for­mal­ity in­volv­ing Brnovich, Gov. Doug Ducey, Sec­re­tary of State Michele Rea­gan and Supreme Court Chief Jus­tice Scott Bales.

But the re­sults come on the heels of charges by Jonathan Lines, chair­man of the Ari­zona Repub­li­can Party, that there were ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties in the pro­ce­dures used. And Lines even has started his own party-fi­nanced “in­de­pen­dent au­dit’’ of the prac­tices in Mari­copa County. Lines is from Yuma.

Ducey, as the top elected Repub­li­can in the state — and some­one who got help from the state GOP — re­peat­edly dodged ques­tions about the ef­forts by the party chair­man to ques­tion the con­duct of the vote.

“I re­fer you to Mr. Lines for those ques­tions,’’ he said.

“We have had some con­cerns around cer­tain is­sues,’’ Ducey con­tin­ued. “But I’m not go­ing to ex­pand on that. I’m just go­ing to say I’ll let his in­ves­ti­ga­tion or what he wants to fo­cus on play out.’’

Brnovich, how­ever, gave a some­what more di­rect re­sponse to the ques­tion about the ac­tiv­i­ties of Lines, though he didn’t men­tion the state GOP which also pro­vided fi­nan­cial help for his own re­elec­tion ef­fort.

“I think peo­ple need to be re­ally, re­ally care­ful when they make se­ri­ous al­le­ga­tions,’’ he said. “One of the things I think that’s prob­lem­atic in the coun­try to­day is that peo­ple are un­der­min­ing the in­tegrity of in­sti­tu­tions, all sorts of in­sti­tu­tions.’’

But the at­tor­ney gen­eral said this isn’t just a prob­lem of the GOP’s mak­ing.

“Both sides are do­ing it, and it needs to stop,’’ Brnovich said. “It’s why pol­i­tics gets so nasty in this coun­try.’’

Lines, in a pre­pared state­ment, de­fended his ac­tions.

“It is im­por­tant that vot­ers have con­fi­dence that elec­tions are con­ducted fairly and that is why the in­de­pen­dent au­dit is cur­rently be­ing con­ducted,’’ he said.

And party spokeswoman Ayshia Connors said there is noth­ing to re­port yet on the au­dit that Lines launched of the prac­tices of Mari­copa County Recorder Adrian Fontes af­ter al­leg­ing vot­ing “ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties.’’

In set­ting up the au­dit, Lines said it would fo­cus on “al­le­ga­tions of fraud in the elec­tion.’’

Lines, how­ever, pro­vided no ex­am­ples. In­stead, he said the party was hir­ing At­tor­ney Stephen Richer set up a web­site for peo­ple who sub­mit in­for­ma­tion.

“We are still gath­er­ing in­for­ma­tion,’’ Connors said Mon­day. “We will keep you posted.’’

The GOP move came af­ter Repub­li­cans lost their stran­gle­hold on all statewide elec­tions.

While Ducey won hand­ily, Democrats took over an open seat in the U.S. Se­nate as well as the of­fices of sec­re­tary of state and su­per­in­ten­dent of pub­lic in­struc­tion. And one of the two seats up for grabs on what had been an all-Repub­li­can Ari­zona Cor­po­ra­tion Com­mis­sion also was clinched by a Demo­crat.

Repub­li­cans also lost four seats in the state House, re­duc­ing their mar­gin to 31-29.

Other than gen­eral al­le­ga­tions of fraud, Lines wants his au­dit to also look into the de­ci­sion of Fontes, a Demo­crat, to open “emer­gency vot­ing cen­ters’’ on the Satur­day and Mon­day be­fore the Nov. 6 elec­tion. Lines has ques­tioned the le­gal­ity of such cen­ters, even though they have been op­er­ated be­fore by Repub­li­can recorders.

And Lines wants to look at Elec­tion Day vot­ing pro­ce­dures, chal­lenges, bal­lot count­ing and the process for re­port­ing re­sults.

At the for­mal can­vass of votes Mon­day, Sec­re­tary of State Michele Rea­gan re­ported that statewide turnout was 2.4 mil­lion, or more than 64.8 per­cent of reg­is­tered vot­ers. While that was 17 points higher than the 2014 elec­tion, it did not set a statewide record, even for a midterm non-pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

Rea­gan said, how­ever, that new records for midterm elec­tions were set in Co­conino, Gila, Mari­copa, Pima and Yava­pai coun­ties.

PHOTO BY HOWARD FIS­CHER/CAPI­TOL ME­DIA SER­VICES

SEC­RE­TARY OF STATE MICHELE REA­GAN AND GOV. DOUG DUCEY sign the for­mal cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of elec­tion re­sults Mon­day as At­tor­ney Gen­eral Mark Brnovich, re­quired to be there as a wit­ness, ob­serves.

JONATHAN LINES

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