Maricopa County says it had no solution to know poll printers would fail, however maker says threat was clear

One huge query Maricopa County voters had after many had hassle
casting ballots at polling locations in November’s election was whether or not
county leaders ought to have seen the issue coming.

The county
continues to insist that there’s no approach it ought to have recognized sure
poll printers would fail throughout Election Day voting. However the firm
that made these printers, OKI, argues that its printer handbook was clear
that these retail-grade printers weren’t lower out for the job Maricopa
subjected them to — and the county ought to have contacted the corporate
forward of time to examine.

In an inner report launched to Votebeat
on Wednesday, the county’s election officers once more keep they’d
no indication the printers would wrestle to print on the thicker poll
paper utilized in November. They wrote within the 16-page report
that the issues didn’t present up in pre-election testing or throughout
early voting, and the handbook for the printers gave “conflicting
info” about which kinds of paper the printers might deal with.

The
OKI printers that failed had been cheap printers that the county and
its provider, Runbeck Election Companies, had retrofitted. The printers
had been initially used to print poll envelopes, then altered by including
longer trays to accommodate 20-inch, 100-pound cardstock ballots.

OKI says its handbook for the printers is obvious that you could’t use them to print double-sided on such thick paper, in accordance with two letters the corporate just lately despatched to the Maricopa County Legal professional’s Workplace. Votebeat reported as a lot in December
after chatting with quite a few election know-how consultants about what
prompted the faint and flaking toner that the on-site poll tabulators
then couldn’t learn.

The corporate factors to 2 locations within the
handbook that point out this limitation, stating OKI “stay(s) involved
that it could have been neglected.”

“A extra thorough evaluation of the
handbook (or session straight with an OKI consultant) earlier than the
election would have supplied a transparent indication that the media being
utilized didn’t meet specs for the B432,” OKI wrote in its
second, letter, dated July 12.

The diminished print high quality prompted
the poll tabulators to reject ballots in almost a 3rd of voting
places throughout the county, creating delays for voters. The ballots
that the on-site machines wouldn’t settle for had been ultimately tabulated at
the county’s central headquarters. However the harm was achieved — the
issues added to mistrust of the county’s elections and gave gas to
GOP candidates making an attempt to show that the election had been stolen from
them.

The county has shared a few of its inner findings over
time, in court docket hearings or updates to county supervisors, for the reason that
election aftermath, however not a full evaluation.For months the county
refused to offer Votebeat the interior report or share any particulars
about it, saying Elections Director Scott Jarrett was nonetheless engaged on
it, and due to this fact the draft was exempt from disclosure beneath Arizona’s
public information regulation. It handed over the report solely after Votebeat despatched a
letter from lawyer David Bodney warning that the county was
inappropriately withholding the doc.

Readability of OKI handbook disputed

OKI has been asking Maricopa County for months now to subject sweeping corrections to an unbiased report concerning the Election Day issues written by retired Arizona Supreme Court docket Chief Justice Ruth McGregor.

The
County Legal professional’s Workplace employed McGregor in January to finish the
unbiased evaluation, separate from the interior investigation that was
underway. The workplace paid her and her subcontractors about $102,000 to
research the issues, in accordance with invoices obtained by Votebeat.

McGregor
wrote within the report revealed April 10 that “regardless of the assurances of
the producer, lots of the OKI B432 printers weren’t able to
printing 20-inch ballots on 100-pound paper beneath election-day
circumstances.”

OKI says that it gave no such assurances. Firm
spokesperson Lou Stricklin informed Votebeat that the county didn’t attain
out to the corporate, earlier than or after the election to see if the poll
paper would work within the printers — and McGregor didn’t both, when
conducting her unbiased evaluation. 

The county has mentioned it relied
on the handbook previous to the election when making paper decisions. The
County Legal professional’s Workplace mentioned that McGregor didn’t contact OKI as a result of
her evaluation was meant to be unbiased, not influenced by folks or
firms with stake within the consequence. However McGregor did interview Jarrett.

OKI, in its preliminary Might 1 letter to the County Legal professional’s Workplace, known as McGregor’s report “irresponsible.”

“It
appears that the true underlying reason for the election points was the use
of 100 lb. paper with out reviewing the handbook and/or confirming with
OKI that such use was inside the specs of the OKI B432
printers,” OKI wrote.

The corporate believes its repute is at stake, in accordance with the
letter, stating that McGregor’s report might “be utilized by OKI’s opponents
to discredit and create doubts within the minds of different election officers
that depend on OKI printers.”

The corporate emphasised that its
printers have been efficiently utilized in elections for a few years. Till
just lately, when the corporate stopped promoting the printers within the U.S., OKIs
had been a favourite cheap and dependable printer for election officers
throughout the nation, in accordance with a number of election know-how consultants.

County Legal professional Rachel Mitchell wrote again
that she didn’t see the McGregor report as “putting blame” on the
printers, “however relatively that “the Election Division unwittingly pushed
its Oki B432 printers to the boundaries of their means,” in accordance with a
letter obtained by Votebeat by a information request.

Mitchell
wrote that she needed to place the problem in perspective, explaining that
whereas “it’s regrettable anytime a voter is inconvenienced,” there
wasn’t “a large failure of printers” as just some didn’t print
high-quality ballots. About 250,000 voters solid ballots on Election Day,
and solely about 16,724 couldn’t be tabulated initially at polling locations
— a few of them for different causes, akin to one other printing error that
occurred on a smaller scale that shrunk poll photographs.

Mitchell
did push again concerning the handbook, although. She identified a line for
customized printing that explains that as much as about 110-pound paper might be
used within the customized setting, which the county was utilizing, and that part
doesn’t notice something a couple of potential incapacity to print on each
sides. 

The inner report launched Wednesday emphasizes the identical line.

Each
studies instructed the county substitute the OKIs with extra sturdy
industrial printers, which county officers have already mentioned they plan
to do.