Pinal County, Arizona, election director removed over ballot mess

Pinal County, Arizona, election director removed over ballot mess

The director of elections in Pinal County, Arizona has been removed from his job after a ballot shortage in some polling places created an Election Day mess and infuriated Republicans.

Leaders in Pinal County, a growing suburban community south of Phoenix, announced Thursday that Election Director David Frisk is no longer employed by the county and that County Recorder Virginia Ross would move into the post.

“As a board, we are deeply embarrassed and frustrated by the mistakes that have been made in this primary election, and as such, we are taking immediate steps to ensure the November election runs smoothly, as elections in Pinal County have historically done prior to this primary,” said Jeffrey McClure, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, in the news release.

Among the problems, a shortage of some ballots at about two dozen voting sites during Tuesday’s primary elections caused some voters to leave without casting ballots. When mail-in ballots went out in July, they were missing some races.

Arizona election officials have been working under a microscope and pressing to make sure things went off without a hitch after former President Donald Trump and his vocal allies spent nearly two years claiming the 2020 election was stolen.

Mr. Trump narrowly lost the state to President Biden in the 2020 election, but he insisted that local officials turned a blind eye to fraudulent votes — namely in Maricopa County, the state’s most populous county.

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The repeated rigged election claims sowed doubts about the results and prompted a Senate-led audit of the Maricopa vote totals that failed to turn up concrete evidence of widespread fraud.

Nonetheless, the claims evolved into a rallying cry for Republicans seeking Mr. Trump’s endorsement in their primary races.

Mr. Trump tossed his support behind a slate of GOP candidates that fully embraced his claims and emerged victorious Tuesday in a series of high-profile primary races in Arizona.

The Pinal County stumbles tossed more fuel on the fire, and local officials blamed the lack of ballots on human error.

Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee, and Kelli Ward, chair of the Arizona GOP, responded on Election Night by calling on Mr. Frisk to resign for “a comprehensive failure that disenfranchises Arizonans and exemplifies why Republican-led efforts for transparency at the ballot box are so important.”

At a news conference Wednesday, Mr. McClure said he had “not seen evidence of a nefarious act.”

“I’ve seen mistakes made on a grand scale,” he said.

The situations frustrated local activists, as well as GOP leaders at the state and federal level, who said the problems will feed into lingering concerns about election integrity.

On Thursday, Ms. McDaniel and Ms. Ward applauded the decision to remove Mr. Frisk, saying it is “an important step towards restoring Arizonans’ faith in their elections.”

“The election failures observed by our joint election integrity program during Arizona’s primary were unacceptable and underscore why transparency at the ballot box is so important,” they said in a statement. “Republicans will continue to hold incompetence accountable, fight for transparency, and make it easier to vote and harder to cheat in Arizona and nationwide.”