A to Z

AZGOP Chair Kelli Ward is making up claims about ‘hidden’ precinct voting data

By: - November 20, 2020 3:18 pm
kelli ward

Arizona Republican Party Chairwoman Kelli Ward speaks at an April 24, 2019, press conference supporting an increase in the state sales tax to provide more funds to education. Photo by Jerod MacDonald-Evoy | Arizona Mirror

Arizona Republican Party Chairwoman Kelli Ward falsely accused Maricopa County of hiding election data that political parties get special access to and that is readily available to the public on the county’s website.

Ward tweeted on Wednesday night, “Why won’t Maricopa County, #Arizona, provide precinct level data for voting? Are they scared we will find 350% turn out in some precincts like in Wayne County, MI?”

There’s one big problem with Ward’s allegation about Maricopa County: It’s patently untrue, and she should be well aware of it. The county elections department provides state and county political parties with access to detailed, precinct-level election data through a secure virtual private network. Each party chair designates one person to have login credentials for that network, and the elections department confirmed that Ward has designated that person for the AZGOP.

Maricopa County also makes less-detailed precinct-level data available online after every election. That information for the 2020 election is already available on the county’s website, on the same page designated for election results.

And that data shows that there weren’t any precincts where more votes were cast than there were voters. However, there was 100% turnout in three precincts: All 24 voters registered in the SMP 3 precinct voted, as did all 7 in the Sunflower precinct and both of the voters in SMP 1. Another 46 precincts had turnout rates greater than 90%. 

A spokesman for the AZGOP declined to comment on why Ward made the false allegation or whether she made any effort to find Maricopa County’s precinct-level data before making the claim. Her tweet was still online as of Friday afternoon, with more than 6,100 retweets and more than 19,000 likes.

The Maricopa County Elections Department declined to comment on Ward’s tweet.

Ward’s claim about Wayne County, Mich., which includes the Detroit metro area, was also untrue. 

President Donald Trump made a similar false allegation about Detroit, tweeting on Wednesday, “In Detroit, there are FAR MORE VOTES THAN PEOPLE. Nothing can be done to cure that giant scam. I win Michigan!” 

In reality, Trump’s allegation is utterly and provably false, Forbes and other media outlets reported. Detroit officials reported 250,138 ballots cast in the city of about 670,000. According to Forbes, less than half of Detroit’s registered voters cast ballots in the election. 

Trump also claimed that Michigan, a pivotal state in both his 2016 victory and 2020 defeat, counted more ballots than people who actually voted, which is also untrue. Forbes reported that Trump appeared to be referring to some precincts in the state that counted more ballots than people who checked in to vote, which it said is a common phenomenon usually attributable to pollworker errors. Detroit reported on 357 “mismatched” votes. Twenty-eight percent of Detroit precincts reported mismatched votes, with most being off by fewer than four votes.

In the weeks since the election, Ward has been among the most prominent Arizona Republicans spreading dubious and untrue claims of election fraud, alleging without any evidence that Trump was defeated through election fraud, demanding a full recount of Maricopa County’s ballots, despite any indication that there were problems with the election, and promoting debunked allegations against Dominion Voting Systems, which provides voting machines and software used by counties in 28 states, including Maricopa County.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Jeremy Duda
Jeremy Duda

Associate Editor Jeremy Duda is a Phoenix native and began his career in journalism in 2003 after graduating from the University of Arizona. Prior to joining the Arizona Mirror, he worked at the Arizona Capitol Times, where he spent eight years covering the Governor's Office and two years as editor of the Yellow Sheet Report. Before that, he wrote for the Hobbs News-Sun of Hobbs, NM, and the Daily Herald of Provo, Utah. Jeremy is also the author of the history book “If This Be Treason: the American Rogues and Rebels Who Walked the Line Between Dissent and Betrayal.”

MORE FROM AUTHOR