Arizona Republicans Baselessly Claim Vote Counting Process Is Sign Of Corruption

As election officials continue counting ballots, Republicans are implying there's a plot against them.
Kari Lake, Arizona Republican candidate for governor, speaks to the media after voting on Election Day with son Leo, second from right, and daughter Ruby, right, in Phoenix. On Thursday, Lake accused election workers of trying to undermine her campaign.
Kari Lake, Arizona Republican candidate for governor, speaks to the media after voting on Election Day with son Leo, second from right, and daughter Ruby, right, in Phoenix. On Thursday, Lake accused election workers of trying to undermine her campaign.
Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

With hundreds of thousands of votes left to tally in Arizona, the Republican nominees for statewide office there are citing the ongoing ballot-counting process as evidence of a corrupt scheme to undermine their campaigns.

On Thursday, Kari Lake, the GOP nominee for governor, accused election officials of “slow-rolling” the ballot counting process to “change the narrative” and of “dragging their feet” in order to undermine her campaign and potential governorship.

“They don’t want to put out the truth, which is that we won,” Lake told Charlie Kirk, founder of the right-wing youth group Turning Point USA. Democratic gubernatorial candidate “Katie Hobbs is not winning, she has never been winning; they’re just not counting votes,” Lake later added.

Priming one’s supporters to suspect the legitimacy of election results is a page out of Donald Trump’s playbook and one that Lake has read from before: Ahead of Arizona’s Republican primary, Lake said, “We’re already detecting some stealing going on” and added that her loss would be evidence of cheating. After she won, she said, “We out-voted the fraud.”

Hobbs had a slight advantage over Lake as of Thursday evening, but as of the night prior, there were about 600,000 ballots left to be counted in Arizona – far too many to presume any result. Most of them were in Maricopa County, home to most of the state’s residents. Voters there turned in 290,000 mail-in ballots on Election Day ― likely a result of Republicans urging their supporters not to trust drop boxes or the Postal Service, as Laurie Roberts noted in The Arizona Republic.

Officials announced the likely timeline before Election Day: “We know everyone would like results faster,” Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer (R) told The Washington Post in a report published Monday. “If you want to help us out with that, well, then get your ballot back to us now.”

Unlike some other states, Arizona allows the pre-processing of mail-in ballots received before Election Day ― meaning the earliest results always reflect the votes of people who turned in their ballots early. But Lake didn’t let the facts on the ground stop her speculation.

“There could be some intentional actions here to slow-roll this,” she said. “They always intentionally have the early ballots ready to go, we roll those out on election night, they favor the Democrats and they want to bring down the excitement for Republicans.”

“There could be some intentional actions here to slow-roll this.”

- Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake

Mark Finchem, the GOP state legislator running for Arizona secretary of state who has lied for years about Joe Biden stealing the 2020 presidential election, went further, urging Republican attorneys to physically trail the Democratic governor and secretary of state candidates: “Make sure they aren’t in the back room with ballots in Pima or Maricopa,” he tweeted. When Finchem’s opponent Adrian Fontes told him to “Stop with this conspiracy garbage,” Finchem replied: “You sound guilty.”

Some candidates are broadcasting potential legal challenges: Blake Masters, the Republicans nominee for U.S. Senate, told supporters in a fundraising email Thursday, “we’re expecting a contested road forward and legal battles to come.”

That appeared to be a reference to ballot printing difficulties in dozens of polling places across Maricopa County on Tuesday, which led to ballot tabulators being unable to read some ballots. Voters could have simply dropped their ballots in a secure box attached to the tabulators and they would be counted at a central facility; thousands chose this option. But others, believing Republican disinformation about Maricopa County rigging elections, ended up casting provisional ballots.

“We’re working with the county to determine how many votes are in this bucket and if it has a potential effect on the outcome of the election, we’ll go back to court and make sure that those voters are treated fairly,” Kory Langhofer, an attorney for Masters’ campaign, told HuffPost on Wednesday.

Other candidates appeared ready to declare victory even as huge swaths of the state’s votes remained uncounted: After the vote count briefly showed him taking the lead in Arizona’s attorney general race, Republican nominee Abe Hamadeh sent a triumphant tweet thanking the people of Arizona “for entrusting me with this great responsibility” and retweeted several supporters prematurely declaring him the winner.

After more ballots were tallied and Hamadeh’s lead slipped, he turned sour.

Maricopa County’s “incompetence,” he wrote, is a “threat to our democracy.”

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