Dead voter claims in Arizona's 2020 election called 'absurd' following investigation

Arizona's Attorney General says hundreds of claims of dead people "voting" in the 2020 election were debunked after calls for an investigation by the Republican Arizona State Senate, and others.

Cyber Ninjas, the firm hired to perform the audit of the 2020 election in Arizona, claimed 282 people voted with a deceased person's name. However, AG Mark Brnovich, says the Elections Integrity Unit (EIU) found confirms just one of the claims and says there are other possible cases.

In an Aug. 1, 2022 letter addressed to Republican Arizona State Senate President Karen Fann, Brnovich says nearly all the claims are unfounded.

"We received numerous complaints regarding allegations of dead voters during the 2020 elections, including those presented to us by you on September 24, 2021, following the completion of the Cyber Ninjas' audit. This specific complaint alleged that 282 individuals who were deceased prior to October 5, 2020, voted in the November 3, 2020 general election," the letter said, in part.

After hundreds of investigative hours, Brnovich says one person was found actually to have been dead, and that "all other persons listed as deceased were found to be current voters."

Brnovich goes on to say that the 282 people who were claimed to be dead voters weren't the only claims and that in total, they were told there were nearly 6,000 dead voters.

"One additional report, making no distinction between dead voters and dead registrants, included 5,943 registrants. Once again, these claims were thoroughly investigated and resulted in only a handful of potential cases," the letter said.

Brnovich calls some claims "absurd," being that the names and birthdays didn't match the people they claimed were deceased, and some dates of death listed were after the election.

"While our office was successfully prosecuted other instances of dead voters, these cases were ultimately determined to be isolated instances," Brnovich said.

Fann released a statement hours after the letter was released, saying, "We're thankful for the tireless work from Attorney General Mark Brnovich and his entire team while answering some tough questions from voters and lawmakers who had grave concerns over how the 2020 General Election was conducted in Arizona. They asked us to do the hard work of fact finding, and we are delivering the facts. This step of the AG's investigation is critical to restoring the diminished confidence our constituents expressed following the last election. We're grateful for the increased voter integrity measures put in place after the audit revealed weaknesses in our election processes. We will continue to work on election integrity policies in Arizona with an end goal of making it ‘easy to vote yet hard to cheat’ within our state." 

Letter offers election suggestions, doesn't present new evidence

On April 6, Brnovich issued an interim report on his review of the 2020 election in Maricopa County that outlined his concerns with some election procedures but did not provide proof of any major issues despite six months of investigation.

In the 12-page letter addressed to Fann, Brnovich said some forms documenting the transportation of ballots were missing signatures or other information. The issue has been widely discussed among Trump supporters who falsely claim the election was stolen from him, but there has been no evidence produced of tampering, and Brnovich didn’t offer any.

Brnovich also claimed that election officials worked too quickly in verifying voter signatures on mail ballots. He suggested several changes, including requiring voters to provide additional information such as a driver’s license number, adopting uniform statewide standards for accepting or rejecting signatures and allowing partisan observers to watch and challenge the signature verification process.

He also contends a drop in the number of ballots with rejected signatures between 2016 and 2018 and again in 2020 warrants scrutiny. He noted that the law was changed for 2020 to give voters five days after the election to fix any problems.

Brnovich also complained that county officials have been slow in responding to his requests for information. County officials have previously said they’re cooperating but also have to focus on conducting local elections while gathering the extensive array of documents Brnovich has requested.

He asked the Legislature to give him subpoena power to force county officials to promptly give him the documents he requests, and added a list of recommendations for tightening election procedures.

The attorney general acknowledged filing criminal charges against nine people across the state for voting crimes stemming from the 2020 general election, where more than 3.4 million ballots were cast. Of those cases, just two were in Maricopa County and both involved people who illegally completed the ballot of their parent, who died shortly before the election.

One woman awaits sentencing on a reduced felony charge, and the other already has completed probation she received after pleading guilty in December. Brnovich’s office revealed that case on Wednesday but did not say how the crime was discovered. The first case came to light after a citizens group scoured lists of recently deceased people who may have voted and handed it over to the attorney general.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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