ASU ‘Election Denialism’ Panel Featured Maricopa County Supervisor

February 16, 2023

By Corinne Murdock |

Arizona State University (ASU) hosted a panel discussing “election denialism” and President Donald Trump’s “Big Lie” about the 2020 election on Monday.

The event featured faces from the last two contentious election cycles, including Maricopa County Supervisor Bill Gates. Gates and several other panelists responded to questions from a group of “self-identifying election-deniers” placed in the center of a room as an audience of college students and faculty watched and occasionally posed questions themselves.

Nearly all of the “election-deniers” raised their hands when asked if they thought Trump had won the 2020 election. 

Gates assured the crowd that the 2020 election was the “most scrutinized in the world.” Gates reminded them of some of the results of investigations over the years, such as that the election machines weren’t connected to the internet.

“If you don’t believe what happened in 2020, then you don’t believe your neighbors, your family members — they were the ones who ran the election,” said Gates. 

Gates then urged those who challenged the results of the 2020 election to sign up as poll workers or volunteers to better understand the process. He expressed that he was upset by those who didn’t have confidence in the election processes.

“I want you to understand, we care about you,” said Gates. “If you guys don’t think it doesn’t hurt my heart to hear this tonight, it does. We want to convince you guys, we want to give you faith in [elections].”

Gates then said that he isn’t a fan of progressive dark money mega-donor George Soros, and urged the crowd to believe him that he’s been a Republican his entire life.

Other members of the panel were Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, CBS News Washington correspondent Major Garrett, and Center for Election Innovation & Research (CEIR) Executive Director and Founder David Becker. Longtime political and communications consultant Frank Luntz moderated the event. In addition to ASU’s McCain Institute, support came from CBS, University of Southern California, and Greater Phoenix Leadership.

Although the panel didn’t focus on this most recent election, controversies remain concerning its administration in Arizona. Last month, Maricopa County announced it was investigating the mass failures of its ballot-on-demand (BOD) printers on Election Day. Over 17,000 voters were affected by the incident. 

Tensions appear to remain between Maricopa County and GOP lawmakers.

The county initially refused to meet former State Sen. Kelly Townsend’s deadline for a subpoena of election records. The county explained it was busy with court proceedings; at the time, they were facing GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake’s challenge of the election results. 

Townsend announced early last month that she did receive the records, though didn’t say when or where they might be publicized. Several weeks later, she said that much of the audit information still needed to be reviewed and scanned.

Earlier this month in response to a report that State Sen. Wendy Rogers (R-LD07) asked fellow lawmakers not to use the phrase “conspiracy theory” during Senate Elections Committee meetings, the county quipped that some lawmakers based their bills on conspiracy theories. 

Watch the entire ASU event here:

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to

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