Get PolitiFact in your inbox.
If Your Time is short
- Video footage of trucks delivering ballots to Runbeck Election Services in Maricopa County, Arizona, was expected and planned for, according to the county and a report detailing plans before the primary and general midterm elections.
- The Maricopa County Republicans said Republican observers were there to watch, contrary to claims that there were no observers.
Claims that Arizona ballots broke the chain of custody in Maricopa County, Arizona, are spreading on social media.
Chain of custody in an election is a process or paper trail to document the transfer of ballots and materials from one person or place to the next. There’s no evidence it was broken in Maricopa County.
Still, one post, a screenshot of a Gateway Pundit blog post headline, says: "FIX IS IN: Arizona ballots stop at Runbeck Printing Company to scan ballot envelopes before they are sent to county — with no observers."
Another post shows footage of white Penske rental trucks "apparently delivering ballots."
"Runbeck is scanning the Maricopa ballots before they are sent to the Maricopa County Elections Center," text below the video says.
"More ballots break chain of custody in Arizona," the post says.
These posts were flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)
Kelli Ward, chairwoman of the Arizona Republican Party, also suggested that Maricopa County was not being transparent.
"Why won’t @MaricopaVote just say what the Penske trucks are delivering?" Ward tweeted Nov. 11.
Maricopa County’s Twitter account replied that trucks, driven by bipartisan staff, were transporting "sealed envelope packets to Runbeck for signature imaging in preparation for signature verification, which is performed back at the election center."
Runbeck Election Services, the Maricopa County Elections Department and the U.S. Postal Service facilities work together to resolve issues related to the sending and receiving of ballots, according to a report from the elections department that predates the 2022 November general election and August primary.
The report also noted that the delivery and receipt of ballot packets between the post office, Runbeck, and the county’s tabulation and election center happens "on a regular and regimented schedule" so that ballots can be tabulated in a timely manner.
The report said: "As early ballots are returned by mail, a two-member bipartisan team from the elections department pick-up the mail and deliver it in hand-documented batches to Runbeck. The transfer is documented using a chain-of-custody transfer slip that is signed by both elections department staff and Runbeck staff."
Runbeck then scans voters’ signatures on the ballot envelopes for elections department staff to verify the signatures before the ballots are counted.
Also, the posts’ claims that there were no observers at Runbeck is wrong.
The Maricopa County Republicans tweeted on Nov. 10 that Republicans had workers at Runbeck’s facilities on election night.
The party’s account tweeted again on Nov. 14: "Repeating! There were Republican observers at RUNBECK on election night and the next day when ballots were sent there for scanning!"
Claims that the transportation of these ballots amounts to a broken chain of custody in Maricopa’s elections are wrong. We rate these posts False.
Instagram post, Nov. 13, 2022
Instagram post, Nov. 13, 2022
Maricopa County tweet, Nov. 11, 2022
Maricopa County GOP tweets, Nov. 10 and 14, 2022
Runbeck Election Services website, visited Nov. 18, 2022
Maricopa County Elections Department, 2022 Election Plan
U.S. Election Assistance Commission, CHAIN OF CUSTODY BEST PRACTICES, visited Nov. 18, 2022
Read About Our Process
In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.