Fact check: Kari Lake falsely claims that nearly 250,000 voting attempts failed in midterms

The claim: Nearly 250,000 voting attempts failed in Arizona midterm election

A Jan. 23 Instagram post (direct link, archived link) from former Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake shows a claim about purported election fraud in the 2022 midterms.

“Officials sabotaged Election Day,” the caption reads. “On November 8th – when 75% of votes were for @KariLake – nearly 1/4 of a MILLION voting attempts FAILED, according to the system log files that were obtained via FOIA.”.

The post generated nearly 43,000 likes in less than a week. Lake shared the same claim on Twitter, where it accumulated over 22,000 likes.

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Our rating: False

The voting logs in question show some ballots had to be scanned multiple times by tabulating machines before they were read properly at the polls, but there’s no proof any valid votes weren’t counted. Votes that couldn’t ultimately be scanned by machine were counted at another location.

Logs don’t show failed voting attempts

A quick aside before we analyze the log-related claim: The post claims Lake received 75% of the vote, but that’s nonsense. The final canvas showed she finished about 17,000 votes behind Katie Hobbs, her Democratic opponent. On a percentage basis, the margin was 50.3% to 49.6%.

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Lake is also wrong in how she characterized the rejected ballots.

Lake’s post doesn’t specify where the logs in question are from, but the same claim was recently put forward by a pro-Lake group, We the People Arizona Alliance, based on logs obtained from Maricopa County, according to the Arizona Mirror.

Megan Gilbertson, a Maricopa County elections spokesperson, called the claim “textbook disinformation.” She said the Maricopa County logs in question show how many times voters attempted to insert ballots into tabulators.

“The logs simply show the total number of times that ballots were run through tabulators in the November 2022 General Election,” said Gilbertson in an email to USA TODAY. “A ballot is secret, so this means that each insert into a tabulator is considered a unique ballot, even if it is the same voter attempting to insert their ballot multiple times.”.

She said it’s not unusual for a ballot to be rejected on the first try, for example, if the voter inserted it crooked.

Gilbertson said 16,724 Election Day ballots were not able to be counted onsite at voting locations and were instead counted at the Elections Department. In some cases voters tried feeding their ballot a dozen or more times before the ballot was set aside to be counted separately.

Fact check: False claim that Kari Lake’s lawsuit shows Arizona used ‘no signature verification’.

Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes noted the logs are not evidence of an incorrect count.

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“There is no veracity to the claim that ballots were improperly counted,” Fontes told USA TODAY in an emailed statement.

Lake also filed a lawsuit against Maricopa County election officials and Hobbs that alleged the county mishandled the signature verification process and that improper ballots were counted during the midterms, as USA TODAY previously reported. A judge dismissed the case and ruled that Lake’s legal team never offered clear and convincing evidence showing the election was rigged against her, according to The Arizona Republic.

USA TODAY has debunked other claims of purported election fraud in Arizona, including baseless assertions that Maricopa County lost 291,390 votes and that Arizona ballot machine glitches were proof of election fraud.

Ross Trumble, Lake’s spokesperson, did not respond to USA TODAY’s request for comment.

Lead Stories also debunked the claim.

Our fact-check sources:

  • Megan Gilbertson, Feb. 2, Email exchange with USA TODAY.
  • Adrian Fontes, Feb. 2, Email exchange with USA TODAY.
  • Maricopa County Elections Department, accessed Feb. 2, 2022 General Tabulator Logs.
  • Maricopa County, accessed Feb. 2, MARICOPA COUNTY ELECTION FACTS | VOTING EQUIPMENT & ACCURACY.
  • USA TODAY, Jan. 5, Fact check: False claim that Kari Lake’s lawsuit shows Arizona used ‘no signature verification’.
  • The Arizona Republic, Dec. 24, 2022, Judge tosses Kari Lake’s election-challenge in Arizona governor’s race.
  • Arizona Mirror, Jan. 26, Kari Lake wants an appellate court to consider new evidence, something they don’t do.
  • Lead Stories, Jan. 25, Fact Check: 1/4 Million Failed Voting Attempts Did NOT Result in Uncounted Arizona Votes In November 2022 Election.
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