FACT CHECK: Were Over 17,000 Duplicate Votes Found In The Maricopa County Audit?
A viral Instagram post claims over 17,000 duplicate votes were uncovered in the GOP-initiated audit of 2020 election ballots in Arizona’s Maricopa County.
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A presenter of the Cyber Ninjas audit report did say over 17,000 “duplicate” ballot envelope images had been found; however, such images are created as part of the county’s signature curing process. Only one ballot is counted in such instances, according to Maricopa County.
Cyber Ninjas, the firm contracted by the Republican-controlled state Senate to lead an audit of the 2020 presidential election in Maricopa County, on Friday presented the findings of its report. The Cyber Ninjas report confirmed President Joe Biden won Maricopa County, the state’s most populous county, according to USA Today.
“Verified! Over 17,000 duplicate votes in Maricopa County alone,” reads a viral Instagram post from Sept. 24. “And you still believe this was a fair election?” (RELATED: Video Falsely Claims To Show ‘Ballot Stuffing’ In Michigan)
While a presenter did say while discussing the Cyber Ninjas report that over 17,000 “duplicate” ballot envelope images, including ones taken after Election Day, had been found, that does not mean the ballots within them were counted more than once. Such images are created during the signature curing process when election officials contact voters to address issues such as the ballot envelope lacking a signature or having an inconsistent signature and when those issues get resolved, the Arizona Republic reported.
“Every time a voter has a questioned signature or a blank envelope, we work with that voter to cure the signature,” Maricopa County explained in a Sept. 24 tweet regarding duplicated ballots. “That’s our staff doing their job to contact voters with questioned signatures or blank ballots. Only one ballot is counted.”
Garrett Archer, ABC15 data analyst and a former official at the Arizona Secretary of State’s office, noted in a Sept. 24 tweet that “duplicate envelopes will increase as we get closer to election day” as the county is “contacting people to cure signatures and people are realizing that they forgot to put their ballot in the envelope.” Maricopa County also said in a tweet that it had “hired additional staff to contact valid voters and allow them the opportunity to cure their signature,” including a “night shift of 40 people from Oct. 29- Nov. 10” last year.
In the event of an early ballot having an inconsistent signature, election officials must “make reasonable efforts to contact the voter, advise the voter of the inconsistent signature and allow the voter to correct or the county to confirm the inconsistent signature,” according to Arizona state law. The signature curing period affords voters five business days after an election to correct their signatures, per the statute.
Previous audits conducted by independent auditors authorized by Maricopa County found the county’s ballots were counted correctly during the 2020 election, the Arizona Republic reported. Former U.S. Attorney General William Barr said in December that the Justice Department found no evidence of widespread fraud in the election, according to the Associated Press.