The Arizona Free Enterprise Club (AFEC) filed a lawsuit against Arizona’s Secretary of State Adrian Fontes this week. The suit was filed in Yavapai County Superior Court. Arizona law states that mail-in ballot drop boxes must be located inside of polling places, and only accessible when they are under the direct supervision of staff.
The current Election Procedures Manual (EPM), which was adopted in 2019 when former Secretary of State Katie Hobbs was in office, states that drop boxes can be situated in any random dark alley away from prying eyes or security cameras. Fontes is trying to use the same out-of-date, and clearly illegal, rule for the 2024 election.
The draft EPM for 2024 still says that ballot drop boxes and be placed just wherever. No biggie. It’s not like that would be tempting for anyone who wants to cheat in an election by stuffing an unmanned ballot box with stacks and stacks of fake ballots.
“With no basis in statute, and supported by nothing more than executive fiat, the Secretary has authorized election officials throughout the state to employ unstaffed drop-boxes as another manner by which voters may cast their votes early,” said AFEC in a press release.
The lawsuit notes that Fontes’ draft version of next year’s EPM contains more than 1,000 citations of state law when talking about everything but drop boxes. But in the section of the manual that says you can put drop boxes in any old place, there are zero citations of state law. AFEC says this is a deliberate omission.
Fontes knows that putting out unstaffed drop boxes is in direct violation of state law, so his office simply isn’t citing the law at all.
“The EPM’s omission of citations to Arizona’s statutes was surely not an oversight. When a statute supports an EPM regulation, the EPM cites it,” says AFEC. “Apparently, though, the EPM’s authors could find no enabling statute supporting unstaffed drop-boxes.”
Since the Secretary of State’s office isn’t following the law by having drop boxes set up in election offices and monitored by human eyes, counties have been setting them up in churches, elementary schools, restaurants, humane societies, libraries, fire departments, and community centers. The EPM also doesn’t state how many drop boxes counties are allowed to have, and it doesn’t put any geographic restrictions on them. The deliberate lack of oversight over Arizona’s drop boxes is downright absurd if you follow the rules being set by the Secretary of State’s office.
AFEC argues, we believe correctly, that an unstaffed drop box breaks the chain of custody on every ballot that is deposited in it. State law designates only two staffed locations where drop boxes are allowed to be placed: Polling places, and in an election official’s office, which is usually the county recorder’s office.
Suppose there is an unstaffed drop box in a particular county of Arizona where the Democrats know a lot of Republican voters live. So, the Democrats go break into that drop box, steal all of the ballots out of it, and dump them in a lake. Guess what? There’s no federal crime that a person can be charged with for doing that, nor is there a specific law enforcement agency tasked with investigating crimes related to tampering with a drop box.
We have federal laws that protect mailboxes from those types of crimes, but not ballot drop boxes, which have only been around since approximately, oh, when was it? Oh, right, the 2020 election that was stolen from Donald Trump and the American people.
Drop boxes in Arizona aren’t even required to have LOCKS on them.
Although we only want to give them a small amount of credit, the Arizona legislature did pass a law to require that drop boxes only be located in a select number of staffed locations. It was former fake “Republican” Attorney General Mark Brnovich who was too busy making stupid num-chuk videos on YouTube to actually enforce the law when Katie Hobbs broke it in 2020 and again in 2022.
If AFEC succeeds in this lawsuit—and it sounds like they have a good chance of doing so—that will be one less mechanism of cheating at the disposal of the Democrat Party in 2024. We wish them luck.