A national organization founded by former Attorney General Bill Barr and Karl Rove have teamed up with the Arizona Free Enterprise Club to file a new lawsuit attacking the signature verification process for early ballots. 

The action attempts to un-do the current Arizona Elections Procedures Manual interpretation that County Recorders can use signatures from the voter’s previous early ballot envelopes when verifying a new envelope. The groups believe that only the signature on the voter’s registration form should be used in the matching process – no matter how long ago the voter registered.

Teaming up with the AZFEC is “Restoring Integrity and Trust In Elections”, a group formed last year by Barr, Rove, casino magnate Steve Wynn and others. Neither group discloses its donors nor who is funding a legal effort such as this. They have retained Arizona elections attorney Kory Langhofer to bring the action in Yavapai County Superior Court.

Arizona’s elections statutes previously directed Recorders to match the signature on the envelope to the “registration form”. It was changed by the Legislature in 2019 to “registration record” in a unanimous vote, and the Elections Procedures Manual was then adjusted accordingly.

The Complaint acknowledges that the statutes do not “explicitly” define the term. “But it is most naturally understood to be a document upon which an individual furnishes information required by federal and Arizona law to effectuate or amend her voter registration. The document includes a signed certification attesting to the accuracy of the information provided.”

However, as noted by the Secretary of State’s Office in the Kari Lake Election Contest, the registration record for a voter does include their signatures from in-person voting, early ballot requests and verifications, etc. “Indeed, for long-time registered voters, the registration form in the voter’s record may be decades old, and their signature may degrade or change over time, as reflected in more recent official documents in the registration record. Plaintiff’s insistence that officials may only consult the registration form – and not any other official documents in the voter’s registration record – both defies the plain text and legislative history of A.R.S. § 16-550(A) and would lead to absurd results.”

Initial reports of the new lawsuit indicated that it was attacking the verification process in Maricopa County as to the 2020 election, which raised questions about why it was filed in Yavapai County Superior Court. Now that the Complaint is available, we can see it is attacking the statewide process and it is filed in Yavapai because the individual Plaintiff, Dwight Kadar, lives in the Village of Oak Creek. He is a co-founder of the Arizona Liberty PAC.

This article was reported by AZ Law founder Paul Weich. Paul was running for a seat in Arizona’s House of Representatives.

“AZ Law” includes articles, commentaries and updates about opinions from the Arizona Supreme Court, U.S. Supreme Court, as well as trial and appellate courts, etc. AZ Law is founded by Phoenix attorney Paul Weich, and joins Arizona’s Politics on the internet. 

AZ Law airs on non-profit Sun Sounds of Arizona, a statewide reading service that provides audio access to printed material for people who cannot hold or read print material due to a disability. If you know someone who could benefit from this 24/7 service, please let them know about member-supported Sun Sounds. And, YOU can donate or listen here. 

Previous episodes of AZ Law can be streamed or downloaded here, or wherever you get your podcasts.