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Democracy

Arizona election official posts perfect response to woman who received two mail-in ballots

These kinds of clear, concise explanations are the best way to battle misinformation about how votes actually get counted.

two election ballots

A woman received two ballots in the mail. Is that a problem?

Since having elected leaders instead of kings is a hallmark of our democratic system, Americans share a common concern for election integrity. But for some, that concern has grown into full-blown conspiracy theories and misinformation about election fraud since before Donald Trump lost the 2020 presidential election.

Despite dozens of lawsuits either being dismissed as groundless or lost on their merit in court, people still try to claim that the 2020 election was rife with fraud.

One of the primary targets of those fraud claims is mail-in ballots. People haven't seemed to wrap their minds around how mail-in ballots can be secure and how people can be prevented from voting twice if they happen to have more than one ballot mailed to them.

Turning Point USA field rep Aubrey Savela shared a photo of two official Arizona ballots with her name on them to X, with the caption, "Maricopa county at its finest… My first time ever voting in a presidential preference election and I received not one but two mail-in ballots.Thank you @stephen_richer."


Stephen Richter, the man she tagged, is a Maricopa County election official—and a Republican, incidentally, who sued Republican Senate candidate Kari Lake for defamation after she accused him of sabotaging the election. And his response to Savela's insinuation that receiving two ballots was somehow problematic was absolutely pitch perfect.

"Hi Aubrey!

Thanks for reaching out. You changed your voter registration on the last day of voter registration (Feb. 20) from your Chandler address to your new Tempe address.

Because early ballots must go out on Feb. 21, your Chandler ballot was already set to go out, and so it did.

Then we sent out a new ballot to your Tempe address when we processed your voter registration modification.

That's why you had to redact out different lengths in the address (because they were sent to different addresses).

You'll also notice that one of packet codes ends in "01" (the one to your old address) and one ends in "02" (the one sent to your new address). As soon as the "02" one goes out, the "01" packet is dead. Meaning even if you sent it back, it wouldn't proceed to signature verification, and it wouldn't be opened. That's how we prevent people from voting twice.

So just use the one with your new address ending in "02" -- that's the only one that will work.

Hope this helps! Have a great night! Happy voting!"

Richter didn't slam her, make fun of her, call her names or shame her for trying to make it look like something fishy was afoot. He simply laid out exactly what happened to cause her to receive two ballots, explained how the first ballot was rendered invalid as soon as the second ballot was issued, and explained how the process safeguards people's vote and the integrity of the election in general.

These are the kinds of cool-headed, informative, clear and concise explanations we need for people to understand how mail-in ballots and other election apparatuses function. People make all kinds of assumptions about how those processes work without actually finding out the reality, so having a real example laid out in such a clear way is fantastic to see.

Yes, election fraud can happen, as can honest mistakes that impact people's votes. But time and time again, investigations into election fraud claims have yielded only a miniscule fraction of a percent of votes impacted by actual fraud—not enough to even come close to swinging an election one way or another.




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