Prebuttals Slam Arizona Audit Findings: Ballots & Boundaries

Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan and two members of his team are sick with Covid-19, so members of the Arizona Senate will have to wait to hear what they came up with after examining the 2020 general election ballots from Maricopa County.

The state contractor could only deliver a partial report yesterday, according to Senate President Karen Fann (R). Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) and Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer (R) are preemptively telling people not to trust it. Hobbs’ office released 122 pages of critiques and Richer told fellow Republicans in an open letter that the “operation didn’t even have a veneer of impartiality.”

Meanwhile, Senate President Karen Fann (R) plans a state Supreme Court appeal to try to prevent having to release some audit information to the public, The Arizona Republic reported. The Arizona Court of Appeals said documents produced by Cyber Ninjas under a contract for the Senate are public records. — Brenna Goth

Photographer: Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images
Contractors working for Cyber Ninjas examine and recount ballots from the 2020 general election at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix.

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TEXAS: VOTING BILL COULD GO TO THE GOVERNOR THIS WEEK

Now that many Texas House Democrats have returned to Austin, the proposed limitations on how Texas counties can conduct elections could be on the desk of Gov. Greg Abbott (R) by the end of the week.

When the state Senate meets on Thursday, the voting bill (S.B. 1) that was delayed by quorum-denying Democrats will be in position for final passage. — Texas Tribune

GEORGIA, COLORADO: WHO WILL BE IN CHARGE?
A potential state-appointed elections superintendent in Fulton County, Ga., would have the “political will” to fire and replace election managers and staff, said Matthew Mashburn, a Republican member of the state’s election board.

The state board appointed a three-person panel (two Republicans and one Democrat) to review election management in heavily Democratic Fulton, the largest county in Georgia.

Republicans, including Gov. Brian Kemp, say a cleanup effort is overdue because of election mismanagement. Democrats say the motivation is a partisan response to unfounded election-fraud allegations.

Another battle over local election control is unfolding in Colorado, where Mesa County commissioners appointed a new elections supervisor to counter the secretary of state’s replacement in an investigation into election security breaches this past May. — Chris Marr and Tripp Baltz

CALIFORNIA: FEDERAL INMATES EXCLUDED

People incarcerated in California’s 12 federal prisons won’t be counted when the state’s redistricting commission begins drafting maps. The commission voted to exclude federal inmates, whose numbers inflate local populations where prisons are located.

Commissioners tried to obtain the last known addresses of the 12,254 people in federal custody, but didn’t get that information in time, commission Chair Linda Akutagawa said in a statement.

The California commission also submitted a motion to the state Supreme Court asking for an extension until Jan. 14, 2022, to finish its maps.— Tiffany Stecker

ILLINOIS: BOTH PARTIES AMENABLE TO CHANGE

Illinois Democrats say they’re willing to meet Republican demands to change already-enacted statehouse maps after U.S. Census data showed the populations varied too much.

Census data released Aug. 12 showed population deviations exceeded the 10% allowed by the U.S. Supreme Court. A new law would have to be enacted to change the boundaries set on party-line votes and signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) in June. — Stephen Joyce

OREGON: VIRTUAL PUBLIC COMMENT

Members of the public have until Sept. 7 to draw and submit their visions for new political boundaries in Oregon. The Oregon Senate and House Redistricting committees will consider those and conduct virtual public hearings ahead of a court-ordered Sept. 27 deadline. — Joyce E. Cutler

BIG PICTURE: PROFESSOR SAYS INSIDERS WIN
Since redistricting this time around has a shorter timeline because of the Census delays, Stanford Law professor Nate Persily says the edge goes to “insiders over outsiders” and “those who are adept at the redistricting process over those who are not organized.”

Persily, who crafted the current court-enacted Pennsylvania congressional lines, said on Rick Hasen’s ELB Podcast that he wouldn’t be surprised to see gerrymandered maps thrown out by state courts.

“I do think that courts are going to be put into a difficult position very, very soon, within four months, on whether they start becoming aggressive players in the redistricting process or if they are of the view that look, we’re just going to let what might be a legally questionable gerrymander go into place for one election because they feel they don’t have the necessary time to correct it,” he said. — Greg Giroux

Caught Our Eye:

  • Texas Democrats return home to a new battle: redistricting. — NPR
  • A Florida woman found ballots from 1906 inside 115-year-old ballot box used for home decor and that might be linked to an allegedly crooked election. — Tampa Bay Times
  • “We cannot out-organize voter suppression” a civil rights leader tells Vanity Fair.
  • Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) skipped a redistricting hearing to attend the Cincinnati Bengals football training camp. — The Cincinnati Enquirer

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To contact the reporters on this story: Greg Giroux in Washington at ggiroux@bgov.com; Chris Marr in Atlanta at cmarr@bloomberglaw.com; Tripp Baltz in Denver at abaltz@bloomberglaw.com; Brenna Goth in Phoenix at bgoth@bloomberglaw.com; Stephen Joyce in Chicago at sjoyce@bloomberglaw.com; Joyce E. Cutler in San Francisco at jcutler@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Tina May at tmay@bloomberglaw.com; Katherine Rizzo at krizzo@bgov.com

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