Kari Lake is not taking her projected loss well.
This stance isn’t surprising — Lake also suggested the primary election was rigged, at least until she won it.
Now, her campaign’s official stance is that Arizona’s midterms should be re-done in the state’s largest county. “[T]his election was irreparably compromised by voter disenfranchisement,” her campaign’s “war room” tweeted Wednesday. “We don’t care if this is unprecedented. The appropriate thing to do would be to let Maricopa County cast their votes again.”
“We don't care if this is unprecedented. The appropriate thing to do would be to let Maricopa County cast their votes again.”
Lake’s claims do reference a real problem in Arizona’s election administration this year: In Maricopa County, the state’s most populous and home to Phoenix, 70 of the county’s 223 polling places dealt with defective settings on ballot printers that left many ballots legible to the human eye, but unable to be read by vote tabulators. Lake and others suggested that the printing and tabulator issues disproportionately affected conservative-leaning precincts, but a Washington Post review found that not to be true.
Nonetheless, there was also an easy solution: Voters could have simply dropped off those completed ballots into receptacles attached to the tabulation machines, known as “Box 3” or “Door 3,” to be tallied up later at a central counting facility. Thousands of voters opted to use this option, and their votes were counted normally.
But Republicans have for years cultivated a distrust of Maricopa County’s election system based on lies about the 2020 election. On Election Day, the state’s GOP chair even shared a graphic urging voters, “DO NOT PUT YOUR BALLOT IN ‘BOX 3’ OR DOOR 3.”
Voters listened. “When it gets dropped in the box, that’s how they fix the election,” one man who refused to use the Box 3 slot told HuffPost.
In a race decided by only 17,200 votes as of Thursday, the distrust sowed by Republicans may have been decisive, or at least boosted Hobbs’ lead enough to avoid a recount. One Republican attorney raised the prospect of suing county officials over voters who decided not to drop off their ballots, and who instead claim they were ultimately forced to vote on provisional ballots. And multiple right-wing media voices have urged Lake to sue, or otherwise pursue a “re-do” of the election, though that’s a long shot.
An attorney for Lake’s campaign didn’t respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.
Despite the Election Day hiccup, Lake was bullish on her chances when the outcome of the race was still up in the air.
In an interview two days after Election Day, she accused Maricopa County officials of “slow-rolling” the ballot counting — because, she said, they were trying to delay the moment when they would finally have to admit that she had won the race. But she didn’t accuse them of cheating.
“They don’t want to put out the truth, which is that we won,” Lake said. She added separately, “Katie Hobbs is not winning, she has never been winning; they’re just not counting votes.” The reverse was true: Hobbs was never losing to Lake at any point during the ballot counting process, New York Times data shows.
But Lake remained steadfast in her belief that she was winning. “We’re going to win this, and there’s not a darn thing they can do about it, but they’re trying to pour cold water on this movement,” she said.
The following day, Lake tweeted about a “bombshell” — namely, that she expected the outstanding votes to be enough in her favor to overtake Hobbs’ lead. That turned out to be wrong.
On Saturday, Lake’s war room Twitter account declared that Lake would be the next governor and that “our confidence hasn’t wavered & we haven’t moved an inch since election day.”
The following day, Lake told Maria Bartiromo that she was willing to wait for the votes to be counted, and that “God is giving us a great lesson in patience right now.”
Then, on Monday, the candidate’s fate was sealed. The anticipated votes coming out of Maricopa County had not changed the tide and news organizations projected Hobbs had won.
Lake sent her tweet about “BS” and retweeted someone who called the election “a continuing war for Arizona” and who said, “She will not go quietly into the night.”
Lake’s claims about Maricopa County seem to have left an impression on some Arizona voters at a meeting of the county’s Republican-controlled Board of Supervisors Wednesday.
After a campaign insider called for Lake supporters to “express your delight with how well they ran the election last week,” multiple attendees called for the election to be re-done, “nullified” or “scrubbed.” One said, “You all will have to answer to a higher authority, it’s just a matter of time.” Another urged, “turn yourself over to state’s evidence.”
One particularly animated man yelled at the board, “You are the cancer that is tearing this nation apart!”
“The only option is nullification, re-vote and a hand count,” another public commenter said. “I would ask you to confess and repent, and may the consequences of your actions be on your heads. I warn you and I caution you, we’ve got a big God, in Jesus’ name.”
The assembled crowd responded, “Amen.”
What may have been remarkable a few years ago — a losing candidate for major office declaring that their results were invalid — has largely melted into the post-election chatter in Arizona, a troubling sign of the normalization of these protests.
Lake’s objections are still simmering: On Wednesday, she posted a montage of campaign stops, set to the song “I Won’t Back Down.” The following morning, she said in a straight-to-camera video that “I am still in this fight with you.”
The problem with the ballot printers, Lake said, had proven her right in her efforts to ban voting machines in Arizona, and in her calls to have Arizona’s secretary of state and Governor-elect Katie Hobbs (D) recuse herself from election administration this year. (This even though Arizona elections are administered on the county level.)
“The fox was guarding the henhouse, and because of that, voters have been disenfranchised,” Lake said of Hobbs. “Our election officials failed us miserably,” she added, claiming that “tens of thousands” of Maricopa County voters had been disenfranchised — though it’s not clear where that number came from.
“I am busy here collecting evidence and data,” she said. “Rest assured I have assembled the best and brightest legal team, and we are exploring every avenue to correct the many wrongs that have been done this past week.”
Lake made no mention of the nearly 1.3 million Arizonans who voted for her opponent, nor of other 2020 election deniers around the country who conceded to their opponents days ago.
Rather, she made a political pitch: “This fight to save our republic has just begun.”