April 11 (UPI) -- The use of long, heavy paper to print ballots for last year's election in Arizona and not wrongdoing was to blame for tabulation problems that caused long lines and frustration at some Maricopa County polling stations, independent investigators have ruled.
The county had launched an independent investigation to understand why on-site tabulators were unable to read some ballots printed for the Nov. 8 general election, which, among other races, saw Democrat Katie Hobbs defeat Republican Kari Lake by some 17,000 votes in the gubernatorial contest.
Lake, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump, has called foul since the election. Among her grievances with the results were allegations that printer malfunctions were intentional and that they affected the election results.
On Monday, former Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Ruth McGregor completed her investigation into the printer issues, finding the primary causes of the on-site tabulation issues to be equipment failure by some ballot printers that suffered issues printing longer ballots on heavier paper.
"Based on our tests, and for the reasons described in this report, we concluded that the combined effect of using 100-pound paper and a 20-inch ballot during the 2022 general election was to require that the Oki B432 printers perform at the extreme edge of their capability, a level that could not be reliably sustained by a substantial number of printers," McGregor wrote her in the report.
According to the report, Maricopa County increased ballot length from 19 to 20 inches to accommodate the number of contests and propositions in both English and Spanish. The officials also opted to use 100-pound paper for the general election after sharpie pens used to mark ballots printed on 80-pound paper in 2020 bled through to the other side of the page, sparking concern from the public.
"The primary cause of the election day failures was equipment failure," McGregor wrote. "Despite the assurances of the manufacturer, many of the Oki B432 printers were not capable of reliably printing 20-inch ballots on 100-pound paper under election-day conditions.
"Any failure in process or human error relates to a failure to anticipate and prepare for the printer failures experienced. But nothing we learned in our interviews or document reviews gave any clear indication that the problems should have been anticipated."
The report suggests Maricopa County replace the Oki printers, return to using 80-pound paper to print ballots and conduct more robust stress tests.
"I pushed for an outside investigation as soon as this happened, and I appreciate Justice McGregor and her team's thorough, professional and independent review," Board of Supervisors Chairman Clint Hickman said in a statement. "We don't grade our own homework and now that we have a better idea of the factors involved, we'll make changes to best serve voters, starting with replacing some equipment."