A former FBI special agent specializing in signature analysis said the Maricopa County mail-in ballot voter signature matching system is “almost illegal,” given the constraints placed on reviewers.
Retired FBI Special Agent Wayne A. Barnes told Just The News that due to the limited time to review for signature matches to those on voter files, it’s “almost illegal to have it work that way,” adding it’s “almost pathetic.”
The FBI veteran also argued that under the current system, “Only the most dissimilar signatures, when comparing them, can be knocked out.”
The news comes as the Arizona Supreme Court ordered a trial court to proceed with GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake’s election challenge against Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs’ “win.”
Hobbs “defeated” Lake by approximately 17,000 votes or 0.7 percent of the more than 2.5 million ballots cast statewide.
Lake’s legal filing argued that “whistleblowers conducting signature verification at [the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center] came forward with the evidence that Maricopa disregarded Arizona law and allowed tens of thousands of uncured ballots with nonmatching signatures to be counted.”
“Curing” ballots involves reaching out to voters who would have their ballots rejected because of errors in order to confirm the voter’s identity.
Lake attorney Kurt Olsen said, “There are literally over 100,000 ballots in question because of invalid signatures that were accepted and tabulated.”
“This is not a challenge about simply a few bad signatures. … This is about a systemic failure of the entire signature verification process, which is allowing tens of thousands of ballots with signatures that don’t match the record on file. And this is the only security feature for mail-in voting,” Olsen said.
Following the Supreme Court March ruling, Lake tweeted: “For years, signatures have been a third rail for Maricopa County. The process of verifying these signatures is the only security measure on mail-in ballots.”
“The amount of time allotted to check these signatures was only 8 seconds, which is not humanly possible. The system is completely broken,” she continued. “That’s why they are absolutely terrified of letting anyone take a look at their signatures.”
“The signature verification process in Maricopa County is a house of cards. Thanks to this ruling, my team will get the chance to topple it.”
According to a motion for a status conference submitted Thursday, Lake’s legal team “intends to petition [the trial court] to inspect the ballots verified by Maricopa, based on new evidence that came to light in 2023.”
“In addition, Lake has filed a special action in this Court to compel Maricopa to produce ballot envelopes and related public records for the 2022 election in response to Lake’s Public Records Request.”
As The Western Journal noted:
The county’s voter verification process came under intense scrutiny following the 2020 election after the county revealed that only “upwards of 25,000” of the 2.1 million ballots cast (page 5) went through the curing process, or about 1.2 percent.
Of those, 2,042 were not counted: 587 for having bad signatures and 1,455 for having no signature at all.
During the 2022 midterms, a total of 3,099 ballots were rejected of the approximately 1.5 million cast in Maricopa County.
“Workers marked 18,510 signatures as ‘nonmatching,’ and of those, 15,411 voters confirmed it was their ballot, or ‘cured’ their ballot. That led to 3,099 rejected for bad or missing signatures. Of those, 1,299 were missing signatures, and 1,800 were bad,” VoteBeat Arizona’s Jen Fifield reported.
County Recorder Stephen Richer jumped to the defense of the Maricopa Country signature matching review process in the 2022 election, arguing some improvements had been made since 2020.
The initial reviewers now have three signatures on file in order to compare with the voter signature on the mail-in envelope instead of just one.
If the initial reviewer rejects the signature, it goes to a manager for further review.
If the signature is then also rejected by the manager, then the county reaches out to seek to verify the voter’s identity.