Many of the candidates who peddled former President Donald Trump’s lies that the 2020 election was “rigged” and “stolen” were defeated in November, a pattern heralded by Democrats that is already changing the contours of the 2024 election — which prompts the former president to modulate his tone as he recently released another bid for the White House.
But efforts to cast doubt on the administration and conduct of the 2022 election still smolder in Arizona, long a hotbed of election conspiracies that have spawned the now-defunct Cyber Ninjas firm’s mock audit of Maricopa County’s 2020 results. after Trump questioned Joe Biden’s win there. The ongoing election denial underscores that while the most high-profile supporters of Trump’s electoral lies have been defeated, efforts to undermine democracy will continue.
Several Trump-backed Republican candidates are at the top of Arizona’s ticket, including defeated GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, defeated secretary of state candidate Mark Finchem, as well as GOP attorney general candidate Abe Hamadeh — who trails his opponent, Democrat Kris Mayes, by 510 votes during their race headed for a recount — took up an issue with Maricopa County’s printers on Election Day to make exaggerated claims about the election.
Maricopa officials said printer problems affected about 70 polling centers and prevented some ballots from being read by tab machines on Election Day, but that the problems were resolved and those ballots were set aside in a secure ballot box and counted separately. Bill Gates, the Republican chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, called the inconvenience and long lines “regrettable” in a Twitter video, but said “every voter had an opportunity to cast a ballot on Election Day.”
But that hasn’t stopped the issue from spiraling into a maelstrom of misinformation and conspiracy theories about the overall management of the election within the far-right faction of the Arizona Republican Party, despite the best efforts of other Republican election officials to quash conspiracy theories and fact-check them in real time.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican who dismissed Trump’s efforts to overturn Arizona’s 2020 election results, is again among officials signaling it’s time to move on.
Though Lake didn’t concede a goal in her race against Democrat Katie Hobbs, who is the current secretary of state, Ducey posted pictures of his meeting with Hobbs to Twitter on Wednesday, noting that he thanked the governor-elect for “her victory in a tough race.” ‘ congratulated. Fought races and offered my full cooperation as she prepares to take over as Arizona state leader.”
The problems could come to a head next week. Monday is the meeting for counties in Grand Canyon state to confirm their general election results — statewide certification to follow on December 5. Recounts can only begin after confirmation. In the run-up to these events, Lake has posted videos and letters to Twitter insisting she is “still fighting.”
Because some voters were forced to stand in long lines — a low-profile incident on election day in many states — Lake recently appeared on Steve Bannon’s War Room show, accusing her opponents of “discriminating against people who chose to vote on… to choose election day. ”
Rather than using Trump’s 2020 catchphrases such as “rigged,” Lake has generally used narrower language, describing the administration of the election as “botched up” and “the worst ever,” while accusing Maricopa County of “kicking its feet.” tow”, to provide information about the election to their election campaign.
Lake’s arguments were bolstered by a letter last week from Arizona Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Wright to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office requesting information on what Wright called “myriad issues surrounding the administration of the 2022 general election in Maricopa County.” (Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich is a Republican).
The letter requested information on the printer configuration settings for on-demand ballots that contributed to problems reading ballots through on-site ballot tabs; and the procedures for handling ballot papers, which should be separated and placed in the secure ballot box; and information on how to deal with voters who are checked in at one polling station but wanted to check out to vote at a second polling station, either because of wait times or other issues.
Gates said the county will answer the attorney general’s questions “with transparency, as we have done during this election” before holding its public meeting Monday to promote the election. The campaign ad, Gates said, is designed to “provide a record of votes counted and votes cast illegally.”
“There will be no delays or games; We will advertise in accordance with state law,” he said in the statement.
But in Cochise County, a community of about 125,000 in southeastern Arizona, the two Republicans on the three-member board of directors recently opted to delay a vote on certification until Monday’s deadline, citing concerns about the polling machines .
This prompted the Secretary of State’s office to threaten legal action if the district failed to complete certification by the deadline. Peggy Judd, one of the Republican regulators who originally voted to postpone action, told the Arizona Republic this week that it has decided to certify the findings when the board meets.
CNN reached out to Judd for comment.
Still, the 11-hour drama in the Republican stronghold underscores the distrust of standard voting procedures that has permeated parts of this battleground state since Biden won the state in 2020, the first Democratic presidential nominee to do so in nearly a quarter-century Has .
Officials in a second county — Mohave in the state’s northwest corner — also voted to delay their certification until Monday’s deadline. But officials there described their move as a political statement to express their displeasure at the troubles that arose in Maricopa County on election day.
Like Lake, Finchem has refused to cede his race to Democrat Adrian Fontes while sending out appeals for funds to his supporters, claiming he is trying to get to the bottom of “myriad problems” with the election. He has repeatedly called for new elections.
Hamadeh, the GOP’s nominee for attorney general, this week filed a lawsuit in the Maricopa County Superior Court challenging the election results based on what the lawsuit alleges errors in the conduct of the election. Hamadeh’s lawsuit notes that the plaintiffs allege “no fraud, manipulation or other willful misconduct that would call into question the results of the November 8, 2022 general election.”
But the lawsuit is asking the court to issue an injunction barring the Arizona Secretary of State from confirming Mayes as the winner and asking the court to declare Hamadeh the winner – while claiming there was a “miscount of votes” , “unlawful disqualification” given to provisional and early elections” and “unlawful exclusion of provisional voters”. The Republican National Committee has joined the lawsuit.
Hamadeh is just 510 votes behind Mayes and the race is headed for an automatic recount. CNN has reached out to the Secretary of State’s office for comment.
Lake has promised that her campaign’s attempt to get more information from election officials this week is just the beginning of her efforts. It remains to be seen whether she will be more successful than Trump in his many failed lawsuits – and whether she is politically prudent in setting the course for her next act with a course now decidedly rejected by voters.