Maricopa County Door #3 Ballots: Where Did They Go?

  • by:
  • Source: UncoverDC
  • 09/19/2023

Maricopa County Election Judge Karla Sweet says she was asked to put 93 "Door #3" ballots in the black duffle bag with all of the other voted ballots at the end of the day on Election Day per the instruction of county Election Inspector Mark McCall. Sweet sent a letter to UncoverDC on November 11. The letter documents her observations and some of her thoughts throughout the day. Sweet worked at the Grace in the Desert Adventist Church poll location in Peoria, Arizona, in Maricopa County.

*The link posted by UncoverDC seems to have been removed from Scribd, so screenshots of the letter are provided in the gallery below:

[gallery type="slideshow" size="medium" td_select_gallery_slide="slide" td_gallery_title_input="Karla Sweet Letter" ids="45576,45577,45578"]

Notably, UncoverDC spoke with another Election Judge, Michele Swinick, who worked at another voting center. Swinick says every poll location was instructed by "the supervisor at Election HQ to place Door #3 ballots in the black duffle bags." However, the request for where to put the Door #3 ballots in Swinick's case was slightly different. Swinick reports she and others were instructed to put her Door #3 ballots in a separate black duffle bag. She personally marked a label on the duffle bag zipper with the words "Misread Ballots." Both Sweet and Swinick expressed earnest concerns the Door #3 ballots might not ever be seen.

Election Procedures: 2022 Training Manual for Poll Workers

As indicated by Sweet, page 127 (134 in pdf format) of the 2022 Training Manual for Poll Workers from the Maricopa County Elections Department specifically instructs poll workers to put Election Night Door #3 ballots in the "Misread Ballots Envelope with location label" in the "BLUE transport box."

Blue Box/Maricopa County Election November 2022/

Sweet was asked to put her voting center's 93 ballots in the Misread Ballots Envelope (Door #3 ballots) and put the Envelope containing the rejected ballots in the black duffle bag with the voted ballots. The manual specifically stipulates that the "Packed and sealed BLACK ballot bag(s)" should only contain voted ballots and tabulator results reports.

Black Bag/Voted Ballots/Maricopa County Elections/

Unfortunately, it was only the next day, when Sweet checked her manual, that she realized she had been instructed to put the Door #3 ballots in the wrong container for counting later. McCall asked Sweet "three different times" to place the Misread Ballots Envelope containing Door #3 ballots in the black duffle bag. She believes he wanted her to put them at the bottom of the bag. However, she told UncoverDC she wanted to "organize the voted ballots first," so she was careful to place those in first. She then put the Misread Ballots Envelope on the top of the bag so that they would be seen.

Chairman Bill Gates seems to confirm in his press conference on November 9 that Door #3 Ballots should have been put into a "secure box (Door 3) on-site."

Additionally, she and the Democrat Judge both witnessed Inspector McCall's placement of the security blue zip ties into the black bags. This is significant because extra security zip ties could later be used to reseal unlawfully opened bags without detection. Sweet wonders in her letter "if the machine malfunction in particular areas was at all planned." Her letter states her belief that the Door #3 votes "will not be counted" because they are in the black bags.

Sweet Letter/November 9, 2022/Peoria Arizona

It should be noted that Inspector McCall sent a post-election email to Sweet and the other volunteers with the final tally from the day. Sweet had looked at the tabulator counts and the tabulator tapes on Election Night at the end of the day. McCall's email indicates a total number that jives with her recollection of the breakdown of ballots processed. McCall's email indicated the final count was "1357 in-person voters (and the countless ballot drop-off[s])." To clarify, McCall's letter also explains he gave them their earned 2 hours of pay that was not indicated on the Sitebooks' time clock. The Sitebook had to be packed up before all the poll workers actually left at around 9:30 p.m. and therefore did not reflect the actual hours worked.

Sweet's email to UncoverDC shows calculations that correspond with McCall's total. Specifically, her email provides her recollection of the breakdown of ballots tabulated or in Door #3, hours worked at the location, and the number of poll workers at the location:

Karla Sweet Email/November 12, 2022/UncoverDC/Maricopa County Election November 2022

Other Election Day Observations

Arizona voters showed up in droves, earnestly hoping their votes would count, according to Sweet. Both Swinick and Sweet told UncoverDC there were long lines, with voters waiting for hours in the heat in some cases. The on-demand ballots were long and took time to fill out. Sweet writes:

"We had a daughter bring her mother on a rolling bed to the vote center to vote at the poll on election day. We had elderly people in line with walkers who were alone, wanting to vote on election day. We had American citizens who cared so very much. I feel it is unacceptable that these people had to deal with tabulators that randomly rejected so many of these voters' votes."

In her letter, Sweet talks about Inspector McCall's instructions to voters concerning their misread ballots. According to Sweet, he instructed voters throughout the day to put their ballots into Door #3 if they were rejected and the "3 of us would count those ballots at the end of the day." Sweet eventually asked him "whether it was true" those votes would be counted at the end of the day. He answered, "it was not completely true, but it was too complicated to tell the voters what will happen." He also told Sweet that he, Sweet, and the other Judge would "run the ballots again through the tabulators" at the end of the day, adding, "if they were again not accepted, we would package them into an envelope and send them 'downtown' to be counted in a couple of days."

Other Maricopa County poll workers seem to corroborate the issues witnessed by both Swinick and Sweet.

Once Sweet realized the Inspector wasn't giving accurate information to the voters about the timing of the counting of their ballots, she took it upon herself to encourage voters to spoil their rejected ballots, mark their ballots again, and scan their newly marked ballot in the tabulator with the hope that the new ballot would be accepted. Sweet writes, "Most of the voters chose to spoil their ballots" despite the fact that it was a time-consuming option. Sweet says there would have been many more misread ballots in the envelope had she not encouraged voters to vote anew. Sweet writes:

"I had spent 13-14 hours with these voters at the tabulators, doing my very best all election day to help them vote while I dealt with a tabulator that did not function properly most of the day. I watched their faces of discouragement as their ballots were rejected by the machine and saw their resolve to be sure their vote would be counted that day, election day. There were 93 misread/tabulator rejected, uncounted ballots for the two tabulators at our vote center by the end of the day. There were many other misreads during the day that we were able to send back through with success. It absolutely breaks my heart to think of the voters' perseverance and resolve to make sure their votes counted, each giving hours of their day to get that done, sometimes repeating their ballots."

Swinick and Sweet both told UncoverDC that in several voting centers, the divider between the voted ballots and the Door #3 ballots was missing, which means "ballots from the tabulator and Door #3 were co-mingled." Sweet described the setup:

"The tabulator sits on top of a big plastic box that's on rollers and when you open the box, it has a divider, one side for the tabulated ballots and another for Door #3 ballots. Ballots are either tabulated or they are dropped in by the voter in Door #3." (The tabulated votes drop into their own designated side.)

Confusion About Ballot Status

Maricopa County voters have been encouraged to utilize the Be Ballot Ready website to check the status of their ballot. Both Swinick and the people behind AZinformer on social media have told UncoverDC that there has been a campaign by the Maricopa Board of Elections to inspire confidence in the vote, using the website to verify whether a voter's ballot has been "counted." Voters have expressed confusion about the status of their ballots when checking after they voted on the 8th.

A Maricopa County voter gave UncoverDC his email correspondence with Ilene Haber, Director of Communications and Constituent Services at the Office of the Maricopa County Recorder. It seems that the vague language about ballots having been counted is responsible for the confusion.

As confirmed by an email from Ilene Haber, when a voter checks the website after having voted, the information provided on Be Ballot Ready about a "ballot being counted" means only that the voter has gone to the poll as a registered voter and a ballot has been printed and issued to the voter, period. Haber provides the correct information below:

Haber/Voter/Board of Elections/Maricopa

Haber also provides correct information on when a (Box) Door #3 ballot "will be tabulated." Her email to a Door #3 voter indicates that his "ballot will not need to be adjudicated" but will go directly to tabulation" in the FIRST run Wednesday morning [November 9]."

Haber emails

Ballots for Arizona's election are still being counted. Officials there estimate it will be early next week before the full results are reported. However, the media has already called several top-of-the-ticket races in the state.

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