Arizona GOP chair Kelli Ward accuses Maricopa officials of 'malfeasance' in ballot tabulation breakdown
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Kelli Ward, who chairs Arizona Republican Party, is accusing Maricopa County Recorder Steven Richer of “malfeasance” following reports that roughly 20 percent of ballots are not going through the tabulator, and in some cases would be stored in a secure box and counted later in the evening.

“They will claim it’s just a mistake, that it’s just machines, that it’s this, that or the other,” Ward told Steve Bannon, the former White House strategist, on his show “War Room with Steve Bannon” today. “My personal opinion is, it’s malfeasance. It’s not just incompetence. It’s malfeasance.”

Ward also called for the resignation of members of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, insisting, “They cannot have anything to do with the 2024 election. They’re incompetent and they’re potentially corrupt.”

Ward, who led an effort to submit a slate of fake electors for Donald Trump from Arizona in 2020, did not provide any evidence to back up her position that Richer and members of the county’s legislative body have engaged in wrongdoing or misconduct. Her charge, echoed across the conservative media ecosystem today, confirms fears expressed by election experts that election deniers would seize upon machine breakdowns and other hiccups as supposed evidence of nefarious intent on the part of election officials.

Mary McCord, a former Justice Department acting assistant attorney general for national security, said on MSNBC that there have been “some minor mechanical glitch or minor hiccups in the process, that’s exploding online as being proof of some sort of fraud in the election process and something that will mean that a result that is not to the liking of certain people in this country will be blamed on a rigged election.

“So, what I’m worried about, and, again, I think things have gone relatively smoothly in terms of voter safety in polling places, but what I’m worried about is what will come after today when any one of these little glitches becomes the basis for baseless litigation over voter fraud and potential intimidation of the people who are in charge with counting ballots.”

During a press conference earlier today, Richer explained that ballots that didn’t go through the tabulator could be stored in a secure box, and a bipartisan team would deliver them to a central tabulation center after the close of voting at 7 p.m.

Richard Baris, another guest on Bannon’s program — which has served as a hub for election conspiracy theories and MAGA Republican electioneering — mocked the idea that a nonpartisan team could be trusted to ensure that the ballots aren’t subject to tampering.

“The major problem with this is they expect you to believe you’re going to put that ballot in a secure box,” Baris said, making air quotes, “and a bipartisan team is going to have the chain of custody over these ballots the entire time. I mean, it’s inherently the antithesis of the American skeptic towards government, right? You’re just supposed to believe that these people are going to handle these ballots correctly, and if you don’t you’re a conspiracy theorist, if you’re just not naïve.

“If it’s going to be a bipartisan team, is it going to be Dr. Kelli Ward and her lawyers?” Baris continued. “Because that’s about the only person I would trust to make sure those ballots are handled. I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen a lot of ‘bipartisan’ teams that are filled with left-wingers and left-wing Republicans. So, you know, that term doesn’t faze me. Your machines should be working. It is Election Day.”

Benny Johnson, the chief creative officer at Turning Point USA, echoed Ward’s insinuation that the machine malfunction in Maricopa County was the result of intentional bad acts by local officials.

“You have legitimate voter disenfranchisement and suppression in Arizona — based on what — malevolence?” Johnson asked during an election livestream hosted by Turning Point USA CEO Charlie Kirk that periodically interfaced with Bannon’s show throughout the day.

“We’re not sure yet,” he said. “Based on incompetence, we’re totally sure of that.”