WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Monday, Dec. 12, Arizona state Sen. Sonny Borrelli (R) and Mohave County, Arizona voters filed a lawsuit against Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D), the Maricopa County recorder, members of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and the Maricopa director of elections challenging the results of the 2022 Arizona gubernatorial race. In their complaint, the plaintiffs allege that “[b]ecause of multiple systemic failures in the conduct of the election in Maricopa County, Arizona, including the County’s improper and unauthorized delegation of its responsibilities to opaque, unproven software programs that improperly but unavoidably influenced the judgment of poorly trained workers tasked with signature verification, in violation of Arizona statutory law, the voting strength of residents of Mohave County, Arizona, was diluted and their Constitutional rights were violated.” They specifically argue that a “disproportionate number” of Maricopa County’s mail-in ballots, including many “presumably” deposited in drop boxes, did not pass a “proper verification system” and therefore should not have been counted. The plaintiffs further contend that the allegedly “biased” and inaccurate “artificial intelligence software” used to verify signatures on mail-in ballots cast in Maricopa County violated Arizona law and the U.S. Constitution, ultimately resulting in the “disenfranchisement of Mohave electors who had properly cast their ballots in a county that followed state election law and verified each signature properly, by trained human beings.”
The Republican plaintiffs request that the court declare the Maricopa County defendants’ “impermissible and unlawful” “outsourcing” of the signature verification process to “opaque third-party computer software” in violation of the U.S. Constitution and Arizona law. Ironically, the plaintiffs lament the alleged mass “disenfranchisement” at the hands of the defendants, but concurrently ask the court to “[i]nvalidate and set aside the 2022 Maricopa County general election results for the race for governor, and/or and invalidate and set aside all Maricopa County mail-in ballots in the 2022 general election for governor.”
Throughout their complaint, the plaintiffs decry Maricopa County’s use of “artificial intelligence” to conduct signature matching procedures and advocate for signature verification procedures conducted by “well-trained human beings.” The Republican plaintiffs, in a departure from their party’s usual tenor, underscore the very valid point that “[s]ignature verification powered by AI or any form of automation is also more likely to flag people who have undergone a name change. Married women, trans people, or domestic abuse survivors are disproportionately likely to have their vote rejected.” However, what they neglect to point out is that signature matching, even when conducted by “well-trained human beings” — the method that they advocate for in their lawsuit — is notoriously unreliable and often leads to validly cast votes being thrown out for reasons that are immaterial to a voter’s eligibility. Notably, signature matching has a disparately adverse impact on marginalized voters including but not limited to voters of color, youth voters, voters with disabilities, English second language voters and military/overseas voters. In fact, during the 2020 election in Colorado, “young Black and Hispanic voters’ ballots were rejected for purported signature mismatches approximately 25 times more often than were ballots from older White voters.”
This new election contest comes in the wake of a series of other contests filed by Arizona Republicans including gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, attorney general candidate Abraham Hamadeh, secretary of state candidate Mark Finchem and congressional candidate Jeff Zink, all of whom lost their respective races and are now challenging validly cast ballots in an effort to subvert election results and sow doubt in the electoral process.