WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Monday, the Associated Press called Arizona’s governor race in favor of Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D). Her Republican opponent Kari Lake has not conceded and is leading a coordinated campaign to allege irregularities in the voting process, potentially laying the groundwork for lawsuits to disregard the election outcome. In a video posted on Thursday morning, Lake stated that she has “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.” To bolster her position, Lake is sharing testimonies from voters who were confused, or in some cases, disenfranchised in this year’s election. While it is disheartening when anyone is unable to exercise their right to vote, the testimony shared by Lake is not evidence for a wide-spread conspiracy. In fact, it exemplifies the unfortunate consequences of the Arizona GOP’s very own voter suppression efforts.
Lake has focused her ire on Maricopa County, Arizona’s largest county where Election Day glitches caused some disruption. On Tuesday morning of Election Day, reports soon emerged that around 30% of the county’s vote centers were dealing with tabulator machine issues where machines were failing to scan ballots. Maricopa County officials repeatedly stressed that no voters were being disenfranchised because of this issue. Officials gave the following instructions to voters: If a voter’s ballot did not go through the precinct tabulator machine, they could instead put it in a secure ballot box, Door 3, that’s attached to the tabulator machine. This vote would be counted as normal, and in the same way as all early ballots, at an election tabulation center later on in the day. Nonetheless, conspiracies led to distrust around this “Door 3” option, with some Lake supporters refusing to use it. A judge, in responding to a last-minute request to extend the polling hours in Maricopa County, concluded that there was “no evidence that any voter who appeared to vote at Maricopa County polling places was turned away from the polls.” The Election Day issues in Maricopa County were unintentional and the fail-safe option worked.
However, other evidence shared today by Lake is emblematic of how Republicans have consistently made it harder to vote in the Grand Canyon State. In one video, a man cast a provisional ballot that was ultimately rejected because he had not re-registered in the county after moving. U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) accurately responded with: “The fix to this is same day voter registration. By the way this is also proof that their [sic] is no voter fraud.” In May 2022, the Republican-controlled Arizona Legislature banned same-day voter registration — even though the state does not even have this practice. “This bill literally does nothing,” state Sen. Martin Quezada (D) said at the time. “And all it is a platform for us to further espouse the Big Lie.” That bill passed on a party-line vote, with all Republicans voting for and all Democrats against. Lake has also shared stories of voters who showed up to vote but they were no longer registered to do so — the real-life consequences of aggressive voter purges. Arizona is one of seven GOP-controlled states that recently passed laws making voter purges more frequent and with less safeguards.
Finally, Lake posted a video recorded by two young voters as evidence that Republican voters were denied their right to vote. The likely reason the young man in the video was registered as a “federal-only” voter and handed a “federal-only” ballot is because he was unable to present documentary proof of citizenship as required by House Bill 2492. The Arizona Legislature approved H.B. 2492 this spring; it passed on a purely party line vote with all Republican lawmakers voting in favor — including GOP secretary of state candidate Mark Finchem who has similarly not conceded his loss — and all Democrats voting against it. Gov. Doug Ducey (R) signed H.B. 2492 into law on March 30, 2022. When enacted, it was well known that this new law likely ran afoul of a 2013 U.S. Supreme Court case but the GOP pushed it through anyway. There are currently seven lawsuits filed against the law, including one by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Long story short, after months of sowing doubt into the electoral process, Lake and others are reckoning with the impact of their party’s strategy of making it harder to vote.