WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Friday, Dec. 9, Mark Finchem, the GOP candidate for Arizona secretary of state who lost to Secretary of State-elect Adrian Fontes (D) by over five points, and Jeff Zink, the GOP candidate for Arizona’s 3rd Congressional District who lost in a landslide to Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz), filed an election contest against Fontes, Gallego and current Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D). The plaintiffs allege that widespread failures in the state’s conduct of the midterm elections, specifically in Maricopa County, cost Finchem and Zink their elections and “resulted in Arizona becoming a laughingstock among the 50 states.” The plaintiffs specifically point to issues with tabulator machines in Maricopa County to argue that “Arizona voters experienced monumental difficulties trying to register their votes/ballots” and the alternatives offered to affected voters were “weak and unsatisfying.” The plaintiffs provide “evidence” from Arizona voters that the alternatives were “defective,” concluding that these votes were likely never counted and, based on unexplained calculations by the plaintiffs, “constitute the 60,000 Maricopa County and 20,000 Pima county missing votes reported on the Secretary of State website.” The contest blames these issues on Hobbs, suggesting that she “had an ethical duty to recuse herself” because she “was herself running for governor” while serving as the state’s chief election officer. According to the plaintiffs, “[r]ecusal would cause her to lose control of the election she hoped to directly benefit from – a staggering appearance of impropriety and display of unethical behavior,” causing Arizona to have “the only mid-term election in the 50 states with such a comical and tragic outcome.” The plaintiffs further suggest that Hobbs failed to properly investigate the tabulator machines that experienced issues on Election Day; she threatened and intimidated county-level election workers in Cochise and Mohave counties and she used Twitter “to censor the free speech of Arizona citizens because of ‘misinformation’ [that] offended her political perspective.”
Without all of these alleged violations of Arizona law, the plaintiffs argue that “201,232 votes would have gone to Finchem and 79,298 votes would have gone to Zink, changing the outcome of the election in favor of Plaintiffs.” (The plaintiffs do not explain how these figures were calculated.) The contest asks the court to declare that the election of Fontes and Gallego “is annulled,” order ballots to be inspected for fraud, require a “state-wide special election, counted by hand, without the use of electronic vote tabulation systems at the precinct level, [and] no mail in ballots” and open an investigation into Hobbs’ conduct for allegedly violating Arizona law.
This is the third election contest filed in Arizona following statewide certification on Monday, Dec. 5. It comes on the heels of two contests, one brought by election denier and narrowly defeated Republican candidate for Arizona attorney general Abraham Hamadeh and another by failed GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake. Notably, Finchem and Zink are represented by the same lawyer who represented Cochise County, Arizona in the county’s last round of litigation over its failed plan to conduct a hand count of midterm election results. Following litigation in state court, this lawyer attempted to move this lawsuit to a non-existent federal district court. Finchem was vocal on Twitter that the Republican Party, specifically the Republican National Committee (RNC), was not supporting him and he needed to fundraise to bring his own legal challenge. Of the three election contests filed in Arizona so far, the RNC only appears as a plaintiff in Hamadeh’s lawsuit.