The Republican National Committee sent a letter to the Maricopa County Elections Department (MCED) demanding to know why MCED appears to have broken the law by assigning significantly more Democrats than Republicans to poll worker positions for the August primary election. The lopsided hiring practices came by the Elections Department to light through a public records request by the Maricopa County Republican Party.

State law requires that each county board handling the election must be “comprised of two members of different political parties,” but the Maricopa County Republican Committee (MCRC) discovered through public records requests that 857 Democrats were hired for those positions, while only 712 Republicans were. At 11 voting centers, no Republicans were hired.

Eric Spencer, an attorney for the National Republican Committee, sent a letter to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office requesting a written explanation for the discrepancy by Friday, including why so many of the names provided by the MCRC were not utilized.

In a letter obtained by The Arizona Sun Times, he appeared to allege MCED violated the law. “It is difficult to attribute this disparity to mere chance,” he stated; adding:

A.R.S. § 16-531(A) requires that the inspector, marshal and judges at voting locations ‘shall be divided equally’ between Republicans and Democrats, and across all voting locations ‘[t]here shall be an equal number of inspectors … who are members of the two largest political parties.’ The statutory scheme should have virtually guaranteed an equal distribution by party affiliation.

Spencer asked for documentation “that demonstrates the County’s efforts to hire Republican poll workers at the 11 voting locations in question.” He expressed concern that MCED told prospective poll workers they would be required to make multi-day or multi-week commitments and work long or late hours.

Arizona Corporation Commissioner Jim O’Connor, who is leading an effort to stop the use of electronic voting machines in the November 8 midterm election, expressed his concern to The Sun Times.

“This makes no sense, considering there are far more registered Republicans than Democrats in Maricopa County, and Republicans are super eager to serve on these boards due to concerns about voter fraud,” O’Connor said. “There were significantly more Republican precinct committeemen compared to Democratic precinct committeemen hired, so it doesn’t pass the smell test that the county couldn’t get enough Republicans overall. Based on Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer’s constant snide remarks belittling Arizonans concerned about voter fraud, it’s like he’s doing it deliberately to stick it to us and raise tensions, at best.”

In addition to the total 857 Democrats and 712 Republicans, there were 313 PNDs and five workers from other parties, totaling 1,967. Within that, there were 168 precinct committeemen, 118 Republicans and 50 Democrats.

Maricopa County Republican Committee Chair Mickie Niland issued a statement condemning the discrepancy on Wednesday. She expressed concern that at 11 voting centers there was not a single Republican poll worker, only Democrats and PNDs (party not designated). At two voting centers, there were only Republicans and PNDs.

Ten Republicans ended up serving on the “receiving/inspection boards,” compared to 58 Democrats.

The receiving board, which the law requires to consist of “two members who are not registered in the same political party,” is responsible for receiving ballots, memory devices, the official returns, Official Ballot Report, and more after the polls close, ensuring chain of custody and marking entries in their logs verifying seal numbers on the carrying cases, signatures from the persons delivering the ballots, and more.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich found in his interim report on the independent Maricopa County ballot audit of the 2020 presidential election that chain of custody was missing on 100,000 to 200,000 ballots.

Niland said she contacted Maricopa County Elections Director Scott Jarrett about the discrepancy, who responded, “In the seven days before Election Day, we had to backfill over 220 of the 1,900 poll worker positions that were vacated. This included the positions for 69 Republican poll workers.”

Niland said this explanation was missing a reason. “We are left with unanswered questions about why they didn’t work to backfill with more Republicans.” She said MCRC submitted 336 names of Republicans interested in serving as poll workers, but the elections department only hired 61 of them. When she asked MCED about the discrepancy, she said they told her only 61 responded and agreed to the terms.

Spencer noted in his letter to MCED that “Chairwoman Niland was not contacted about any last-minute shortfall in Republican poll workers in the primary.” He cited the state’s Election Procedures Manual, which provides, “the officer in charge of elections shall document when and how the political parties in the county were contacted about the need for board workers affiliated with those parties and all other actions taken in a best effort to obtain board workers from two different political parties.”

According to Breitbart, the RNC sent similar letters to election officials in another battleground state, Michigan, for the same hiring discrepancies during the primary election. In Flint, they hired 442 Democrats and 27 Republicans, and in Kalamazoo, officials hired 132 Democrats and 60 Republicans.

Brian Ference, member at large with the MCRC who drafted the committee’s censure of Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer over election fraud denials and election mishandling, told The Sun Times he personally knows Republicans who applied to work as poll workers during the primary election and received no response. “It appears the Maricopa County Republican Committee censure of Stephen Richer and the LD3 censure of MCBOS Chairman Bill Gates were both aptly timed and well deserved.”

Ference added:

In addition to multiple significant irregularities, discrepancies, and unnecessary delays during the recent primary election, we now know that they both continue to fail at their fiduciary responsibility by refusing to follow Arizona law, which per my understanding requires election officials to hire ‘an equal number’ of Republican and Democrat election inspectors at all voting locations.

That did not happen despite the county providing several hundred Republican names who could have been hired and I personally know several Republicans who applied separately and received no response. There were many issues with not cleaning voter rolls, with voter registration, unnecessary cost to taxpayers caused by the need to correct and duplicate voter registration cards and that is just scratching the surface.

My question is, how does this incompetence, bias, and refusal to follow the law apply to MCTEC and the critical roles of tabulation and signature challenger?

Niland said the committee is going to follow through and make sure this situation doesn’t happen again at the November 8 election. She has asked MCED to show her proof of balanced political party representation prior to the election. State law requires that poll workers are assigned at least 20 days prior to the election. Spencer concluded his letter to MCED with a warning, “The RNC is prepared to pursue all available legal remedies if you fail to respond to this letter or adequately explain the issues discussed above.”

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Rachel Alexander is a reporter at The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Rachel on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Poll Worker” by Phil Roeder. CC BY 2.0.