With Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) term limited, Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) is vying to replace him as the Grand Canyon State’s next governor. An elected official in Arizona since 2010, Hobbs has served in both chambers of the state Legislature and has served as secretary of state since 2019. As the state’s top election official, Hobbs was targeted and harassed by supporters of then-President Donald Trump in the aftermath of the 2020 election.
In a state where election denialism has taken shape, Hobbs faces longtime local TV anchor Kari Lake, who is not only backed by Trump but has also embraced the “Big Lie,” fully rejecting the 2020 election results.
In Democracy Docket’s latest candidate Q&A of the 2020 cycle, Arizona gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs provides her thoughts on Arizona’s proof of citizenship law, lays out the steps she would take as governor to prevent election subversion and picks mail-in voting — a long-standing voting practice in Arizona — as her favorite way to vote.
Responses have been edited for style and clarity.
Early voting by mail is the most popular way to vote in Arizona — nearly 90% of Arizonans voted early in 2020, the majority by mail. Despite this, state Republican legislators continue to pass laws restricting mail-in voting. Why do you think that is?
It’s unfortunately not surprising that Kari Lake and her election-denying allies are trying to end a way of voting that the overwhelming majority of Arizonans have used for decades. Lake and her election conspiracy theorist friends have done everything in their power to undermine our election system and overturn the will of Arizona voters. With most of her positions — from imposing a draconian abortion ban on the state, to putting cameras in classrooms to spy on our children to re-litigating an election from over two years ago — Lake has a vested interest in making sure the majority of Arizonans don’t have the ability to exercise their right to vote, because the majority of Arizonans don’t agree with her.
Since 2020, the Arizona Legislature has passed numerous voter suppression laws, one of which, House Bill 2492, imposes a strict proof of citizenship requirement. What do you make of this law?
Everyone knows that the law violates federal law, so it’s not surprising that the U.S. government and others are suing to keep the state from enforcing it. The law creates new barriers for voters that do nothing to make our elections more secure — like requiring voters to submit additional paperwork like “proof of residence” or identify their place of birth, neither of which election officials will be able to confirm. The law is so poorly drafted that even election officials are still grappling with its implications and how to implement it. Here’s the bottom line: When Arizona’s elected leaders should be bolstering and expanding access to voting rights and defending our democracy from election deniers like Kari Lake, they have chosen to cave to the whims of Trump’s “Big Lie” narrative and undercut Arizona voters in the process.
If elected as governor, you will most likely serve alongside a Republican-led Legislature. In addition to vetoing harmful bills passed by the Legislature, what other tools would you use to protect the right to vote in Arizona?
Just as I worked across the aisle as secretary of state to protect and expand voting rights for Arizona’s communities, I will work tirelessly as governor to ensure we are not just playing defense when it comes to securing Arizonans’ constitutional right to vote. I will work to expand access to the ballot for all by extending early voting through the weekend before Election Day and implementing same-day voter registration. I will also bolster access to voting in communities of color by investing in online voter registration opportunities, expanding resources to the secretary of state’s office and county election officials for voter education efforts and working with election officials to expand the availability of vote centers throughout counties. And, I will push to designate Election Day as a state holiday, which will help ensure every registered voter has access to the ballot box. We also cannot forget that, thanks to the same election lies Kari Lake spreads on a regular basis, nonpartisan election officials and poll workers across the country are facing more risks just for doing their job of securing our right to vote. That’s why I will ensure the security of election workers by providing additional resources for federal, state and local law enforcement to work together to monitor threats and security risks against them and their families.
Your opponent, Lake, was not only endorsed by Trump, but has also followed his lead in pushing the “Big Lie.” Why do you think this rhetoric is so resonant with Arizona Republicans?
Since 2020, Arizona has become ground zero for Trump and his allies’ coordinated efforts to push their “Big Lie” narrative and undermine the sanctity of our elections. These baseless attacks appeal to those who would, rather than accept the reality of the 2020 presidential election and move on to address the issues affecting everyday Arizonans, waste time talking about all kinds of nonsense like Sharpies, CyberNinjas and mules.
Let’s make no mistake: What Lake is doing to sow doubt in our democratic institutions will leave lasting damage on our country. Trump wants to install his cronies in seats of power across the country who will parrot his long debunked conspiracy theories and overturn the results of any election of which they dislike the outcome.
In August, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled in favor of a conservative organization and disqualified a pro-voting ballot initiative from appearing on the state’s ballot for the November 2022 midterm elections. How will this decision affect Arizona voters in November?
Far-right election deniers have spent their time laying the groundwork to undermine the 2022 election, and they already have their eyes on 2024. Their efforts to not only overturn the will of the voters but to also bar them from weighing in on one of the most fundamental pillars to our democracy are part and parcel to their campaign to circumvent what the majority of Arizonans want for their states. As I’ve said before, democracy is on the ballot this November.
A New York Times investigation revealed 81% of Arizona state legislators took steps to discredit or overturn the 2020 presidential election results — the highest percentage of any state. As governor, what steps would you take to safeguard against future election subversion in Arizona?
As governor, I will be the last line of defense against election deniers who want to tear down our democratic processes for their own political gain. The 2020 election was the most secure in our nation’s history. But those who refuse to accept the election results continue attempting to undermine our free and fair elections by attacking the very same processes by which we conduct our elections securely, and harassing and threatening the election workers who uphold the sanctity of our elections. I will be our state’s fiercest champion against these baseless election lies and any unconstitutional efforts to pass legislation that undercuts our election integrity won’t make it past my desk.
Favorite way to vote?
Personally, I vote by mail. As a longstanding tradition used by Arizonans for decades and an important part of our voting identity, it is unthinkable that anyone would want to take that away from us.
Go-to walk up song?
Unstoppable by Sia.