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Election deniers have been defeated, but election deniers continue to swirl in Arizona


Many candidates who promoted former President Donald Trump’s lies that the 2020 election was “rigged” and “stolen” were defeated in November, a pattern announced by Democrats that is already reshaping the contours of the 2024 election – leading the former president to modulate his tone when he recently launched another bid for the White House.

But efforts to cast doubt on the handling and operation of the 2022 election still smolder in Arizona, long a hotbed of election conspiracies that spawned the bogus audit of Maricopa County’s 2020 results by the now-defunct firm Cyber. Ninjas after Trump questions Joe Biden’s victory there. Continued election denial underscores that even if the most prominent promoters of Trump’s election lies have been defeated, efforts to undermine democracy will continue.

Several Trump-backed Republican candidates lead the Arizona ticket, including GOP gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake, Secretary of State nominee Mark Finchem, as well as GOP Attorney General nominee Abe Hamadeh – who trails his Democratic opponent Kris Mayes by 510 votes as their race heads toward a recount — seized on an issue with Maricopa County printers on Election Day to make exaggerated claims about the election.

Maricopa officials said printer problems affected about 70 polling centers, preventing some ballots from being read by tabulators on Election Day, but the problems had been resolved and those ballots had been set aside in a secure ballot box and counted separately. Bill Gates, the Republican chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, called the resulting inconvenience and long lines “unfortunate” in a Twitter video, but said “every voter had the opportunity to vote on polling day.

But that hasn’t stopped the issue from spiraling into a whirlwind of misinformation and conspiracy theories about the overall handling of the election within Arizona’s far-right Republican Party faction, despite the best efforts by other Republican election officials to stifle conspiracy theories and facts. – check them in real time.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican who pushed back on Trump’s efforts to overturn Arizona’s 2020 election results, is again among officials signaling it’s time to move on.

Although Lake did not concede in his race against Democrat Katie Hobbs, who is the current Secretary of State, Ducey posted photos of his meeting with Hobbs on Twitter on Wednesday, noting that he congratulated the governor-elect for “her victory in a hard-fought race and offered my full cooperation as she prepares to assume leadership of the State of Arizona.

The problems could peak next week. Monday is the deadline for counties in the Grand Canyon State to certify their general election results—statewide certification to follow Dec. 5. Any recount can only begin after certification. In the run-up to these events, Lake has posted videos and missives on Twitter insisting that she is “still in the fight.”

Because some voters were forced to line up — a common occurrence on Election Day in many states — Lake charged during a recent appearance on Steve Bannon’s “War Room” show that his opponents were “discriminating against people who chose to vote on election day. ”

Rather than using Trump’s 2020 buzzwords like “rigged,” Lake generally used narrower language, describing the handling of the election as “sloppy” and “the sloppiest ever” while accusing Maricopa County of “dragging” in providing information about the election to his campaign.

Lake’s arguments were bolstered by a letter from Arizona Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Wright last week to the Maricopa County District Attorney’s Office requesting information about what Wright described as “a myriad of issues arising in connection with Maricopa County’s administration of the 2022 general election.” (Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich is a Republican).

The letter requested information about on-demand voting printer configuration settings that were contributing to problems with ballots being read by on-site ballot tabulators; as well as the procedures for processing the ballots supposed to be separated and deposited in the secure ballot box; and information on the treatment of voters who registered at one polling station but wanted to leave to vote at a second polling station, either because of wait times or other issues.

Gates said the county would respond to questions from the attorney general’s office “with transparency as we have done throughout this election” before holding its town hall meeting on Monday to solicit the election. Canvassing, Gates said, is “intended to provide a record of the votes counted and those that were not legally cast.”

“There will be no delays or games; we will solicit in accordance with state law,” he said in the statement.

But in Cochise County, a community of about 125,000 people in southeastern Arizona, the two Republicans on the three-person oversight board recently opted to postpone a vote on certification until the date deadline Monday, citing their concerns about vote-counting machines.

This prompted the Secretary of State’s office to threaten legal action if the county did not complete certification on time. Peggy Judd, one of the Republican supervisors who originally voted to delay action, told The Arizona Republic this week that she decided to certify the results at the board meeting.

CNN has reached out to Judd for comment.

Yet the 11th-hour drama in the Republican stronghold underscores the mistrust of standard election procedures that has taken hold in parts of this battleground state since Biden won the state in 2020, the first Democratic presidential candidate to do so in nearly a quarter century. .

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 decision as a political statement to register dissatisfaction with election day issues in Maricopa County.

Like Lake, Finchem refused to concede his race to Democrat Adrian Fontes as he sent out fundraising solicitations to his supporters saying he is trying to get to the bottom of the “myriad issues” with the election. He repeatedly called for new elections.

Hamadeh, the GOP attorney general’s nominee, filed a lawsuit in Maricopa County state superior court this week challenging the election results based on what the lawsuit describes as errors in the management of elections. Hamadeh’s lawsuit notes that the plaintiffs “do not allege fraud, manipulation or other intentional wrongdoing that would call into question the results of the November 8, 2022 general election.”

But the lawsuit asks the court to issue an injunction prohibiting the Arizona secretary of state from certifying Mayes as the winner and asking the court to declare Hamadeh the winner – all the while alleging there was a “miscounting of the votes “, “an unjustified disqualification from provisional and early ballots” and “unjustified exclusion of provisional voters”. The Republican National Committee joined the lawsuit.

Hamadeh trails Mayes by just 510 votes and the race heads to an automatic recount. CNN has reached out to the secretary of state’s office for comment.

Lake promised that his campaign’s attempt to get more information from election officials this week is just the start of his efforts. It remains to be seen whether she will be more successful than Trump in her many unsuccessful lawsuits – and whether following a course that has now been resoundingly rejected by voters will be politically prudent as she lays the groundwork for her next act.

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