A lawsuit filed Friday by Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake contesting the results in the November 8, 2022, election in Maricopa County exposes, among other things, the complexities of the process for mail-in and drop-box ballots and the county’s reliance on a third-party vendor for essential election functions.
The 70-page complaint filed by Lake named Democratic gubernatorial opponent Katie Hobbs Arizona’s Secretary of State who certified the election in her own favor on December 5, as well as Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer as an officer in charge of elections, Maricopa County Director of Elections for Election Day and Emergency Voting Scott Jarrett and the five members of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors.
The lawsuit, loaded with evidence in support of contesting the election results, revealed the complex multi-step process by which ballots returned by the U.S.P.S. or at a ballot drop box are sorted for future tabulation and the critical role that a third-party vendor plays.
Lake’s lawsuit alleges that the chain of custody forms required to document the complex handling process for 298,942 vote-by-mail ballots deposited into drop boxes or returned through the U.S.P.S. and delivered to a third party vendor, a company called Runbeck, on election day, November 8 are non-existent. Previously, Maricopa County provided 1,149 chain of custody documents covering the early voting period October 12 to November 7 to the Lake campaign after a public records request.
On a daily basis, temporary elections workers designated as ballot couriers retrieve ballots from drop boxes. The ballots are put into a container for transport, sealed, and brought to the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center (MCTEC) where they are counted, documented, sorted and placed in bins, according to the complaint.
The bins are then transported to a third-party vendor, Runbeck Election Services (Runbeck), by a Maricopa County driver, who also stops at the U.S.P.S. facility in Phoenix to pick up mail-in ballots. The ballots are then transferred to the custody of Runbeck employees.