A battle is raging over the way in which Arizona’s Maricopa County verifies that signatures on early ballots are genuine.
The issue is part of the legal battle being waged by Republican Kari Lake, who lost November’s gubernatorial election to Democrat Katie Hobbs. Part of Lake’s legal battle to have the results invalidated revolves around her allegations that a vast gulf exists between the principle of signature verification as outlined in county policies and the actual practices employed in the 2022 election.
Lake said Friday that the county will not allow her team to inspect signatures.
Maricopa County has been illegally outsourcing Signature Verification to a third-party vendor, who uses a threshold of just 10% to qualify signatures as “high-confidence” matches for approval.
This is why they don’t want us comparing signatures.https://t.co/FlBfxS0wKU
— Kari Lake (@KariLake) April 1, 2023
THE SIGNATURES DON’T MATCH. https://t.co/H5lkFCh1rs
— Kari Lake (@KariLake) April 1, 2023
Amid that debate, a new report from the website Just the News indicates that the technology employed by Maricopa County might not be very effective at catching fraudulent signatures.
The report said Maricopa County uses a service called Verus Pro that is part of the software offered by Runbeck Election Services, which has a contract with the county.
At that point, differences emerged. Maricopa County said signatures are verified using “calling, mailing, texting and emailing the voters.”
The site said it was told by a county representative: “Maricopa County does not use Verus Pro for signature verification.”
However, Just the News said former Arizona Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Wright gave the site a copy of a contract effective last July between Maricopa County and Runbeck.
Signatures sent to Runbeck “are assigned a score based on the verification; signatures with a score of 10 or higher are routed to a high-confidence manual signature verification queue, and signatures with a lower score are routed to a low-confidence signature verification queue,” the contract said.
One catch: That’s 10 on a scale of 0 to 100, the report said, citing 2020 emails between Maricopa County officials and a Runbeck employee. In other words, the software has high confidence that a signature that scores as low as 10 out of 100 is genuine.
The report said a Maricopa Couty officials’ email noted that only readings “lower than 10” are “not marked as Accepted by Verus Pro.”
Maricopa County “won’t admit to using the software,” but contracts show a different reality, Wright said.
The 2022 contract also includes “the ability to turn Signature Verification on or off.”
The contract calls for processing “at least 3,600 signatures/hour” with the ability to “correctly assess if a signature is present on at least 80% of inbound images” on early ballot envelopes.
Maricopa County has not told Just the News what the Verus Pro services is used for if not for signature verification, the site reported.
Shelby Busch, co-founder of We the People AZ, said the verification software is “absolutely pertinent” to Lake’s case.
“The county leans on signature verification as the last line of defense,” viewing it as a “failsafe” that assures “the election is safe,” Busch said, according to Just the News.
“But policy violations of signature verification” by involving “a third-party contractor” and providing them “access to [Personal Identifiable Information] and signatures on file of these voters … is huge,” she added.
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Claiming the use of the software was “something the courts tried to prevent people from seeing,” Busch said she is “absolutely thrilled that it’s going to see its day in court.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.