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Trump, RNC sue in Arizona over alleged ballot machine, poll worker errors rejecting votes

President Donald J. Trump listens to Vice President Mike Pence. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)
November 08, 2020

On Saturday, President Donald Trump’s campaign team and the Republican National Committee filed a lawsuit in Arizona, which alleges  Maricopa County poll workers incorrectly overrode an errors on their electronic vote tabulating machines, causing votes to be disregarded.

The lawsuit comes after several media outlets called the race in Arizona for Joe Biden. Biden led Trump on election night, but continued ballot counting has shown Trump closing the vote gap in the state and he is currently about 18,500 votes behind Biden, according to Fox News’ election map.

The lawsuit specifically states that in cases where electronic voting tabulating machines detected an “overvote” — an instance in which the voter selects more than the permitted number of candidates in a given race — poll workers erroneously pressed or told voters to press a selection on the tabulating machines to override the error. Though the selection to override the error allows the ballot to be submitted, the lawsuit alleges, “Ballots cast in this manner do not receive any additional review or assessment at the counting center.”

“If a field on the ballot contains what the tabulator deems an apparent defect or irregularity, the voter’s intended selections in the affected candidate races or ballot proposition contests will not be tabulated, even if the voter’s intent could be discerned by a visual review of the ballot,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit states the “overwhelming majority of voting centers” in Maricopa County used a process in which voters would fill out their ballots by hand before depositing them in electronic tabulating machines, which may detect when an overvote has occurred.

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The lawsuit notes a distinction between an “actual” overvote and an “apparent” overvote with an “actual” overvote stemming from human error, while an “apparent” overvote stems from errors on the ballot form such as ink bleeds, splotches, stray marks, or other irregularities. The lawsuit argues such irregularities could cause electronic ballot tabulating machines to incorrectly detect an overvote.

The lawsuit states the ballot machines would alert voters when an error was found on the ballot and Maricopa County’s voting procedures called for voters to either discard the original ballot in which the error is detected and fill out a new ballot, or physically place their ballot in a tray, known as Tray 3, for manual review. The lawsuit states, instead of following the steps to handle a ballot marked as having an overvote by the tabulating machines, “Poll workers frequently deviated from this protocol by pressing, or inducing voters to press, the so-called ‘green button’ on tabulation devices when confronted with alerts signaling apparent defects or irregularities.”

The lawsuit states, “Pushing the green button effectively overrides the tabulator’s rejection and causes the ballot to be cast. Ballots cast in this manner do not receive any additional review or assessment at the counting center.”

“If a field on the ballot contains what the tabulator deems an apparent defect or irregularity, the voter’s intended selections in the affected candidate races or ballot proposition contests will not be tabulated, even if the voter’s intent could be discerned by a visual review of the ballot.”

The lawsuit further states that while early ballots are subject to a separate tabulating process, in which detected overvotes are automatically manually reviewed by a three-person bipartisan “Electronic Vote Adjudication Board.” The lawsuit states early votes and election day votes placed in Tray 3 were properly manually reviewed, but those election day votes where poll workers overrode or instructed the voter to override the overvote tabulating error were not subject to the same manual reviews.

The Trump campaign, in a Saturday statement said the errors led to ballots being rejected and, “The campaign has collected declarations from voters who witnessed the problem and alleges that the problem occurred on a large scale in Maricopa County.”

The Trump campaign also said voters who encountered the problem can submit additional declarations at DontTouchTheGreenButton.com.

This week, Trump’s campaign team has filed election lawsuits and called for recounts in a number of other states. In Nevada, the Trump team filed a lawsuit claiming votes were cast in the names of dead and out-of-state voters.

Trump’s team also sued to allow observers to oversee vote counting in Pennsylvania and won their dispute. Trump similarly sued for access to voting centers in Michigan, to watch the ballot counting process, but the lawsuit was reportedly rejected by a judge.

Trump has also called for recounts of votes in Georgia and Wisconsin; states where he was ahead in votes on election night, but where Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has since taken a lead.