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Home / election officials

Arizona, Pennsylvania election officials testify in Eastman hearing

Two election officials — one from Arizona and the other from Pennsylvania — testified during former Chapman University Law School Dean John Eastman’s disbarment hearing Thursday how their offices scrambled to debunk myriad bogus election fraud claims in the 2020 presidential election while Eastman worked as ex-President Donald Trump’s lawyer to overturn the results that led to President Joe Biden’s election.

Arizona’s Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer testified how his office combated conspiracy theories that alleged vote-flipping on Dominion voting devices and other tactics to sway the election. He referred to the so-called Cyber Ninjas group that attempted to review the election results as a “bunch of imbeciles, who we later learned had no clue what they were doing.”

Richer said the organization’s report on the election was “not worth the price of the paper it’s printed on.”

Richer was a witness in the Dominion lawsuit against the Fox News Channel, he said. He issued statements highly critical of the Cyber Ninjas report ahead of its release.

“I hoped that it would help some of my fellow Republicans see clearly written that the measures, securities, the evidence, lined up and that they could have confidence in the process and move on from their conversations that were fanciful and fictitious about the 2020 election and could focus on future elections,” Richer said.

“I also wrote it because there was an interim report of sorts being planned by the Cyber Ninjas and we had every reason to believe it would contain numerous falsehoods, which it indeed did, and I wanted to offer anyone interested an accurate representation of what happened in 2020 and the procedures and the tests that were in place.”

Richer said that “throughout November and December (of 2020) I watched so  many strange YouTube videos and fielded so many emails from members of my party, friends, people who heard stuff.”

Richer even described how a video of him addressing a Republican Club went viral online.

Richer said he was frustrated that there’s any question about the fairness and accuracy of the election, saying he knows it was not tainted by fraud the same way “that I know 911 happened, even though I wasn’t in New York, and that we landed on the moon even though I wasn’t born in 1969. All credible evidence points to, yes, it was a fair and accurate election.”

Eastman’s attorney, Randy Miller, asked Richer when he took office. Richer said because of the pandemic he wasn’t sworn in like usual, but signed his oath of office and took office Jan. 4, 2021. The Republican said his predecessor was “kind enough” to give him full access to the office to get a head start.

Richer said he was paying especially close attention to the election results because he was in a tight contest himself. He added he was initially “down and coming back,” so efforts to throw out any Democratic votes illegally cast or incorrectly tallied was “something I would welcome.”

Richer said he was certainly aware of Eastman because as a former conservative think-tank leader at the Claremont Institute, which Eastman is associated with, it is “a big deal to me.” The two both were University of Chicago law school students, he noted.

Eastman’s fellow Trump attorney Kory Langhofer was praised by Richer.

“Korey acted incredibly responsibly,” Richer said. “He was backing it up with potential evidence, and when it didn’t manifest itself it was withdrawn voluntarily. He has my utmost respect. He wasn’t alleging widespread fraud because he knew that would be false and defamatory.”

Richer said there weren’t any “irregularities” in the election, but “concerns” about some voters pressing a green button to override an error and erasing “over votes.”

But Richer said, “That’s not an irregularity. It is a failure to communicate what the green button does. … We were talking about 200 (votes) and when that became clear he voluntarily withdrew the complaint.”

Richer emphasized that the state retains “paper ballots,” which is a backup to guard against manipulation of votes in electronic devices.

“Even if everything was hacked under the moon we still have the paper ballots,” Richer said. “The logs were checked and it didn’t show any signs of internet interconnectivity.”

Jonathan Marks, a deputy secretary of elections and commissions in Pennsylvania, discussed how proud he was that all of the state’s election officials managed a fair election during a pandemic. He said multiple statements were issued publicly to address “claims” from some congressional representatives alleging fraud.

“It seemed to be becoming apparent where certain individuals would rely on bad information or bad data or in some cases completely misrepresent data to try to support the narrative that there was some widespread error or fraud,” Marks said. “We thought it was important as election officials at the state level to put out accurate information to respond to these claims.”

Marks characterized it at times as a “full-frontal assault on the truth.”

He said that despite the multiple challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic Pennsylvania was able to pull off a “free and fair election.”

When asked if he knew of any effort to rig votes to help Biden, Marks said, “No, absolutely not … I went out of my way and have throughout my career to not have any appearance of partisanship.”

He added he was “absolutely confident Pennsylvania had a free and fair election despite the challenges of 2020.”

He said it was a “tragedy” that the narrative veered away from what was “really a triumph of election officials coming together to conduct an election in the middle of a pandemic. It was tragic it was recast as anything other than that. … What it was were state, federal and local officials in both red and blue counties doing everything they could to ensure there was a free and fair election while doing everything they can to protect the health of their voters.”

Eastman’s attorney said in the opening statement of the hearing on Tuesday that the case was about whether his client’s legal theories were “tenable,” and whether he was protected by free speech rights federally and in California and whether he had the right to petition for redress of grievances.

State bar officials are seeking to have Eastman disbarred for touting “baseless legal theories” to prevent the certification of Biden’s election.

The hearing continued Friday.

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