Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates pushed back against allegations of misconduct by Arizona Republican senatorial candidate Blake Masters, the Republican National Committee and the Arizona Republican Party Friday night.
“The Republican National Committee’s suggestion that something untoward is happening here in Maricopa County is absolutely false and again, is offensive to these fine election workers,” he said.
On Friday evening, the RNC and the Arizona Republican Party tweeted a statement criticizing the process in Maricopa County and demanding that the county require “round-the-clock ballot processing changes” until all votes are counted, as well as “regular changes”. , accurate public updates.
Maricopa County held daily press briefings.
The RNC and the State Party also threatened to “not hesitate to take legal action if necessary”.
Addressing the specific accusations in the RNC statement, Gates said: “I would prefer that if there are any concerns they have that they bring them to us here. I am a Republican. Three of my board colleagues are Republicans. Raise these issues with us and discuss them with us, instead of making these baseless claims.
“They’re overdoing the rhetoric here, which is exactly what we don’t need to do,” Gates said.
“Let the count continue and in the end, if they have issues that they choose to take to court, they have every right to do so, and we will let that process unfold,” Gates added.
Responding to claims that the count is “taking too long,” Gates said the county’s pace is consistent with previous years.
“Over the past two decades, it has taken an average of 10 to 12 days to complete the count. It’s not because of anything Maricopa County decided to do, it’s because of the way Arizona law is set. And that’s what we do here in Maricopa County, we follow the law to make sure the count is accurate.
Additionally, Gates responded to a claim by Masters that the county had mixed up uncounted ballots with counted ballots and should “wipe the slate clean” and start counting again.
In a Friday interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, Masters said that on “at least two occasions” the county shuffled uncounted ballots placed in a secure drop box after they were unable to be processed on the spot due to technical problems, with ballots that had already been counted.
“So people when they got to a machine and the machine wasn’t working, they were told to just drop their ballot in a secure box. Hey, we’ll count that later. Well, it turns out Maricopa County at least twice mixed up those uncounted ballots with ballots that had already been counted. So it’s a giant disaster. It’s a giant mess trying to sort out those ballots. Right. I think the most honest thing at this point would be for Maricopa County to wipe the slate clean, just take all the ballots and recount,” Masters said.
Gates said there were two voting centers where the ballots were “mixing up” – but said the county had a process to separate them.
“There were two voting centers where the ballots that went into box three were actually mixed with the ballots that went through the tabulator. Now here’s the thing, we absolutely can fix this and we will. In both cases, we know exactly how many people registered at that polling center. We can then check the total number of ballots left there, either as a table or in box three, and determine if they are the same. We can separate them and make a decision and the best thing is we will do that with Republican and Democratic watchers watching this to make sure everything is verified,” he said.
And responding to Masters’ suggestion that the county should wipe the slate clean and start counting again, Gates said “it’s just not allowed under Arizona law.”
Vote tabulation issues in Maricopa County on Election Day have become fodder for right-wing conspiracy theories.
According to Gates, there are about 275,000 ballots left to count in Maricopa County. He expects that if they keep counting at the same rate – around 60,000 to 80,000 ballots a day – they should be done counting “by the very beginning of next week”.
CNN predicted Friday night that Democratic Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly would retain his seat.