AZ GOP Chair Kelli Ward

Arizona Republican Party Chairman Kelli Ward speaks to a crowd outside a field office for Rep. Tom O’Halleran, D-Ariz., as GOP spokesman Zachery Henry holds the bullhorn on Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019, in Casa Grande, Ariz. While President Donald Trump plays defense on impeachment in Washington, Republicans are taking the fight to Democrats in the states. The national party has drawn up a list of more than 60 target races for the House, Senate and governor where Democrats are running in districts or states carried by Trump, aiming to make impeachment a central theme in those races. (AP Photo/Jonathan J. Cooper)

(The Center Square) – Members of Arizona’s GOP are asking newly reelected chairwoman Dr. Kelli Ward for a recount of their Jan. 23 elections. 

Dr. Ward’s opponent, Tucson businessman Sergio Arellano, has formally requested a recount of votes from the annual GOP State Meeting held in Mesa on Saturday.

Questions arose when one of the party’s at-large committee seats from the 8th Congressional District, originally awarded to former Maricopa County Superintendent Sandra Dowling, went to her opponent. 

Arellano doesn’t think that Ward’s win – she bested him by 42 votes in a runoff – would be overturned in a recount. Rather, he wants the party to set a good example of transparency.

“As I've said before, I fully expect any audit to confirm the results that were announced at the State Meeting, but the errors that were made in the CD8 Member-at-Large election and the reversal of those results have created an environment where a number of state committeemen are raising concerns and asking me to ask for an audit because only a candidate for party office can do so,” he said in a statement provided by spokeswoman Kim Owens. “So I've done that and we're waiting for a response that lays out the when, where, and how of that process. I anticipate the State GOP will do a solid job here and provide election officials around the state with an example of how to conduct a timely audit and how important ballot security and paper backups are.”

GOP officials couldn’t be reached for comment Thursday. 

In an email obtained by 12News, former Pima County GOP chair Bill Beard told Ward the irregularities of the Jan. 23 state meeting “call into question the integrity of the election” and the process in which it was undertaken.

“As the number of distinct problems associated with the integrity of the process are in doubt, I again request a complete recount and audit of the AZ GOP State Meeting elections,” he said.

Beard said there was no clear chain of custody in regard to replacement ballots and the vote counting had been done without anyone from Arellano’s campaign. 

Ward and others in the Arizona Republican Party have been among the nation’s most vocal in calling for audits of Maricopa County’s presidential election results. 

 

Regional Editor

Cole Lauterbach is a regional editor for The Center Square covering Arizona, California, Oregon, and Washington. For more than a decade, Cole has produced award-winning content on both radio and television.