The federal government and state governments across the country should be doing everything they can to ensure election integrity going forward. Over the past few years, the Arizona legislature has taken this to heart. But the Left has been fighting against every legitimate election reform that comes from conservatives. Not only are they filing lawsuits in court, but they’ve been deploying a new tactic that threatens the First Amendment.
Lawsuits Against Election Integrity Bills
In 2021, the Arizona legislature passed, and then-Governor Ducey signed into law SB 1485—a law designed to clean up Arizona’s early voter list. Then in 2022, state lawmakers followed that up with HB 2243 (to ensure regular voter list maintenance) and HB 2492 (to ensure that only U.S. citizens are voting in our elections).
These are commonsense laws that everyone should be able to get behind, but the Left gave up commonsense years ago…
Last week, Governor Katie Hobbs vetoed SB 1264, sponsored by Senator J.D. Mesnard. The bill would have prohibited “an election officer or employee or person who oversees any significant aspect of election operations from being a chairperson, treasurer or member of a political action committee.”
In a customary veto letter to the Senate President, Hobbs wrote, “There are few, if any, examples of election-related issues created by elected election officers or their appointees being involved in political action committees. For this reason, I have vetoed SB 1264.”
Mesnard was not pleased with the governor’s action, releasing a statement soon after her decision was made public. He stated, “The fact that individuals who have the sacred duty of overseeing the integrity of our elections are also permitted to simultaneously influence those elections through a Political Action Committee is disastrous public policy. Allowing such a conflict of interest to persist seriously undermines public trust. This legislation not only had bipartisan support, it was an absolute no-brainer.”
The bill’s sponsor went on to address the governor’s statement in her letter, saying, “In her veto letter, the Governor claimed, ‘There are few, if any examples of election-related issues’ from current policy, but in fact, examples do exist. And even one is too many. Regardless, why wait for there to be ‘issues’ when the conflict of interest is obvious and is itself a problem? Again, this is terrible public policy and allows for both parties to play games, which I fear will only escalate in light of her misguided veto.”
Earlier this year, Mesnard’s proposal cleared the Senate with a 16-14 vote, after passing through the Senate Elections Committee with a 5-3 tally. After being transmitted to the House of Representatives, the piece of legislation was first approved by the Municipal Oversight & Elections Committee with a bipartisan 7-3 vote before easily sailing through the chamber with a 42-16 vote (with one member not voting and one seat vacant).
Back in February, a representative from the Arizona Secretary of State indicated that the Office took a neutral position for the bill.
Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.
Elections aren’t being stolen. But they are carried out under rules devised by one side for their benefit.
The Left loves our election system and why wouldn’t they? It has been a boon for them. They can win elections even when all seems lost. They have learned to exploit, through both legal and extra-legal means, the opportunities presented by bulk-mail voting, ballot harvesting, and lack of voter ID requirements. So, they falsely insist our procedures are virtually fraud-proof, and that attempts to improve election security are racially motivated “voter suppression.”
In fact, voter fraud is not all that rare and is easy to commit. It is hard to detect because victims are unaware that their vote has been canceled and so are unlikely to complain.
In New York, 63 undercover agents went to the polls, giving the names of individuals who had died, moved, or were incarcerated. All but two were given ballots, including young people impersonating voters three times their age.
A television reporter in Florida, on his own, turned up 94 non-citizens who had voted. Elections have been overturned because of voter fraud in Miami, Florida, East Chicago, Indiana, in Essex County, New Jersey, and Greene County, Alabama among other locales.
And who can forget Al Franken’s 312 vote victory in Minnesota’s Senate race, when later over one thousand felons (most probably Democrat voters) were found to have voted.
In 2020, the Pacific Interest Legal Foundation published a meticulous analysis of voter databases in which 144,000 cases of potential voter fraud were documented. These included dead voters, voters who had moved, and voters who supposedly lived in vacant lots, restaurants, and gas stations.
The report was sent to the 42 states in which fraud was uncovered. Not a single official or prosecutor asked for the relevant information for their state. Not one. The stunning New York undercover operation also garnered little attention, either from media or law-enforcement agencies. Neither did the Florida reporter’s discoveries. You see the pattern.
Fraud must be looked for to be detected and most election officials aren’t that enthusiastic about investigating for fraud. Why give yourself a black eye?
Honest researchers admit no one knows how much fraud is out there. Defenders of the status-quo like to point out the lack of proven fraud cases associated with mail-in voting, but unless someone confesses, the crime is essentially non-detectable.
Look at how bulk-mail compares with in-person voting, long the gold standard of election security. At the voting site, voters are protected from undue influence. Only after the list of eligible voters is checked and their ID is presented are they given a ballot. They are monitored while they vote. The secrecy of the ballot is maintained at all times. Finally, a formal chain of custody assures that ballots are handled securely until counted.
By contrast, bulk-mail voting, in Arizona and other states, begins with unrequested ballots being mailed to millions of names on poorly maintained voter lists, some of whom don’t give a hoot about voting. Most ballots are received by their intended recipients, voted, and returned. But others get lost in the mail or are delivered to people who have moved or died. Yet others go to voters, some mentally incapacitated, who are “helped” by third parties to cast their vote. Some ballots are even sold.
Many of the votes are returned by “ballot harvesting,” where party activists collect the ballots and then return them or place them in a dropbox. There are no chain of custody violations, because there is no chain of custody.
Finally, signature matching is used as a substitute for actual ID verification. But signature matching is an imprecise “art”—with no objective standards—which has been demonstrated many times to be unreliable.
Bulk-mail voting is popular and growing, both with those who innocently appreciate its convenience and with those who cherish the inexplicable election wins that can be achieved by it.
But the value of a vote in a democratic society depends on the integrity with which it is cast and counted. A majority of Americans don’t believe their elections are secure, nor will they until we reject voting processes that are so porous to fraud and deceit.
Dr. Thomas Patterson, former Chairman of the Goldwater Institute, is a retired emergency physician. He served as an Arizona State senator for 10 years in the 1990s, and as Majority Leader from 93-96. He is the author of Arizona’s original charter schools bill.
Election integrity is crucial for our Constitutional Republic and is rooted in the understanding that all legal votes will be counted. Our American elections should be secure, transparent, and honest.
Arizona voters are currently in a situation where Democrats are fighting against efforts to allow lawful votes from being counted in what has turned out to be the closest statewide race in Arizona history, the Attorney General race between Republican Abe Hamadeh and Democrat Kris Mayes.
Sometimes when voters go to the polls, they are required to use a “provisional” ballot but are promised by law that their vote will still count. Shockingly, there are currently over 9,000 provisional ballots that were never counted in the Attorney General race. This race is separated by just 280 votes out of 2.5 million votes, and Arizonans deserve to have every vote counted. Many of these voters are high-propensity voters that have voted in previous elections, but their votes are being erroneously disenfranchised from the voting process. Provisional ballots have been ordered by the courts to be opened and counted in the past and should be in this case as well. In some cases, these voters were strangely registered in a county other than their county of residence without their knowledge or intent.
To make matters worse, back in late December, the legal team for Hamadeh discovered that Gov. Katie Hobbs, (then Secretary of State) withheld valuable evidence regarding vote totals being incorrectly tabulated in Pinal County. There is good reason to believe that had this been known to the judge overseeing Hamadeh’s December trial, he would have ruled for a proper inspection of the ballots to ensure every legal vote was being counted, including the provisional ballots.
Why they weren’t counted in the first place remains a mystery. Some say it was purposeful. There are claims that since the election was down to a 280-vote margin for Democrat Mayes and falling fast, the Democrat Secretary of State and Democrat Recorder just decided to stop counting before the results flipped.
The same individuals who argued to have ALL votes counted (not just legal votes) prior to the election taking place are the same individuals who now refuse to count the outstanding provisional ballots.
Since the provisional ballots were breaking 70% Republican on Election Day, the race was within moments of flipping to a Republican victory had they not stopped counting. Whatever the reason that the counting stopped, what is undoubtedly true is that ALL the ballots need to be counted.
When this is added to the latest news last week from Pinal County (see stories regarding the Pinal County elections director knowingly seeing glaring errors and inaccuracies in the votes, cashing out and fleeing the state), this appears to at least be a case of gross negligence. Clearly, the uncounted provisional ballots should be counted.
Understanding precedent is also important here. This would not be the first time in Arizona’s history that an election was overturned after an election lawsuit. In 1916, the race for governor was ultimately overturned and the legitimate winner rightfully took office 13 months after the election. Similarly, in the 1996 race for Yuma County Board of Supervisors, the election was eventually overturned after nearly a year of litigation.
The future of our Constitutional Republic depends on it, and the Arizona Republican Party will continue to fight for ELECTION INTEGRITY. The best course of action is undoubtedly to clean up the voter rolls. However, in the interim, it is imperative that we count all provisional ballots. Everyone should be demanding the same from our government: Let ALL of the voters be heard by letting ALL of the votes be counted.
Jeff DeWit is the Chairman of the Arizona Republican Party. Previously, he was the Chief Financial Officer for NASA and the elected State Treasurer of Arizona, as well as C.O.O. & C.F.O. of the Trump Campaign in 2016, and C.O.O. again in 2020.
The state of our republic is the foremost concern for Abe Hamadeh. Arizona is in a position to define it, specifically based on the outcome of Hamadeh’s election challenge.
“The idea of America, whether we are a nation that is ruled and governed by ‘we the people’ is threatened,” said Hamadeh in an interview with AZ Free News. “It’s the idea that Americans have lost faith in the idea that our elections are fair and honest. Once you lose confidence in that, you lose confidence in other aspects of America — like the rule of law.”
Hamadeh said that the recently released Durham report epitomized these concerns. The Department of Justice’s 306-page findings on the weaponization of the federal government against former President Donald Trump shined a clear light on the current nature of government and media, and the vital importance of an honest judiciary to hold them accountable.
“I sit back, and in its plainest terms: it was an attempted coup on President Trump. How there’s no accountability for that, how Hillary can collude with Russia to create a fake dossier, and this is what Durham has reported. That’s frightening,” said Hamadeh. “I recognize the power of the media, and it’s something I never thought I had a good grasp on. I thought they were generally biased but trying to be factual. But now I’ve discovered that the fourth estate has been totally corrupted, and there’s nobody holding the government accountable. The only thing we’ve got left to hold it accountable is the independent judiciary, which has been threatened by the left.”
It’s his deep concern for the direction of our nation, starting with the state of our elections, that affords him the boundless energy to continue his challenge of the 2022 attorney general election. Hamadeh engaged in oral arguments last week to argue for a new trial, based on the evidence they’ve found of disenfranchised voters.
“I think it goes much deeper than me winning. I’m fighting because I’m fighting for the truth, the people’s voice, and their votes to be honored. I think that’s a noble cause. Whether we succeed or fail, the government’s incompetence, the media’s hypocrisy, and the truth. And the truth is I won,” said Hamadeh. “How can we survive as a country when we no longer have faith in our elections or rule of law? What is the government at this point?”
Mayes was declared the winner initially with a 511-vote lead. The recount slashed that lead to 280. Yet, there are thousands of provisional votes — over 9,000, an increase from the estimated 8,000 reported in April — that weren’t included in the final count. About 70 percent of Election Day voters were for Hamadeh. Hamadeh said these additional provisional votes took as long as they did to discover because of the delay in response from the counties.
“We have to get information from 15 different government agencies, and it’s complicated,” said Hamadeh. “I wish we had access to the information that the government has. That’s why we’re asking for a new trial.”
“Statutes don’t trump the Arizona Constitution.”
Arguments from his opponents — Attorney General Kris Mayes and Secretary of State Adrian Fontes — focused mainly on how much time has passed since the election, the recount, and Mayes taking office. Hamadeh said that didn’t matter, asserting that Hunt v. Campbell ruled that the Arizona Constitution made immutably clear that the person with the most votes is deemed the legitimate officeholder.
“Even with a recount provision, even with a statutory timeline, none of that trumps the Arizona Constitution. All that allows is a statutory tool to make a process to determine who has the most votes and who is the legitimate officeholder,” said Hamadeh.
Hunt v. Campbell concerned the last major election challenge in a close race: over 100 years ago, in the 1916 gubernatorial election. Mayes’ counsel argued that the precedent was inapplicable since the ruling came before statutory timelines for elections were established. However, the judge rebutted in closing that there was a recount provision in place at the time of the Hunt v. Campbell decision.
Of all that the attorney general’s counsel did argue, they never claimed that Mayes obtained the most votes. Hamadeh’s team presented evidence of existing votes not counted, claims which went uncontested by the opposition. When given their turn to speak, Maricopa County didn’t offer any arguments of their own.
Based on what he’d witnessed, Hamadeh said he didn’t believe Mayes’ team came prepared. He believed it evinced a troubling, baseless confidence that the case was over before it had even begun, speculating that the consistency of favorable media coverage played a role as well.
“I think they were trying to treat our case the same as that of Mark Finchem or Kari Lake, or some of these cases with a larger margin,” said Hamadeh. “When they control the media and the government, they feel really emboldened to – it’s almost this hubris where they don’t think this judge will do something.”
Before Hamadeh had the complete voter data handed over from the counties to argue his case fully, The Washington Post editorial board wrote in a post-New Year’s piece that his defeat symbolized an end to election denialism.
“It brings me a lot of joy when we keep discovering the truth.”
Hamadeh pointed out that the media has trotted out the phrase “count all the votes” on repeat since 2020 — which he says is exactly what his case is all about. I’m fighting for the truth. I’m actually scared that these people are running our government and controlling our media.
“The government hasn’t counted all legitimate ballots,” said Hamadeh. “The media always argues, you have to count every single vote. I intend to show their hypocrisy. I have a lot of fun. I’m basically doing what I said I was doing as attorney general, which is exposing corruption, incompetence, and hypocrisy for the truth. I’m enjoying it.”
Hamadeh shared that he asked a group of about 100 attendees at a recent Republican Federation for Women event how many of them knew of someone who had lost faith in their elections and would no longer vote because of what happened last November. According to Hamadeh, every single hand went up.
“It breaks my heart that they’ve lost faith and confidence, and their solution — it’s not a solution — is ‘why vote?’”
Hamadeh claims that the 280 margin isn’t that unreasonable to question considering the myriad hiccups throughout last year’s election season. Last October, Gov. Katie Hobbs in her former capacity as secretary of state revealed that there were 6,000 Arizonans mistakenly registered as federal-only voters.
“This is 280 votes, and the government has already admitted to making these big mistakes,” said Hamadeh. “Why would Katie Hobbs not have done the right thing by telling the court and us if they didn’t have anything to gain?”
Hobbs neglected to disclose the undervotes in the attorney general race until after the December hearing. She claimed that the Maricopa County Superior Court order to prevent disclosure of the recount results prevented her from disclosing the undervotes, but Hamadeh said that wasn’t the case.
“Their actions speak louder than anything I have to say,” said Hamadeh. “We were in court arguing about undervote issues, and they [Hobbs’ team] didn’t say anything. They should not be the ones that take a side in an election contest. They should be the ones doing their jobs as government officials.”
“I wish Republicans had as much a desire to save the country as Democrats have in destroying it.”
Hamadeh said that losing this case would close the door to challenging elections in the future.
“If we don’t prevail, the idea that you can’t question elections and election officials and the government itself regarding elections, is going to only get worse,” said Hamadeh. “My family came from Syria. I know from their experience what it’s like to not live in a democracy, to not be able to question your government. That’s exactly what the media, ironically, and the Democrats are leading us to right now.”
Hamadeh characterized his fight as a natural extension of a uniquely American duty: to serve as a check and balance on the government by questioning it.
“It’s not only our right to question the government, it’s also our duty. Especially when there are this many errors, this much incompetence regarding our elections,” said Hamadeh. “I’m fighting because I think questioning our government is the foundation of what being an American is; if we lose that, we basically lose our country.”
After last week’s oral arguments concluded, Mayes issued a fundraising email asking for campaign and legal fund donations.
“With regard to the never-ending lawsuit… it was more ‘we think’ drama, without factual evidence,” wrote Mayes.
Hamadeh says he hasn’t issued any similar fundraising emails.