Kari Lake denying results, voter intimidation and hand counts: Chaos in Arizona's election

In Cochise County, Arizona, the Republican-run Board of Supervisors voted Monday to hand count ballots in the looming election, even as the county’s own lawyer – and most everybody else – warned that such a move would be illegal.

On the airwaves, Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake once again made it clear this week that she has no intention of accepting the results of the Nov. 8 election unless those results make her our next governor.

In various areas of the state, anyone who dares to put their ballots into a drop box must be prepared to be photographed and investigated by a group of possibly armed vigilantes, spurred on by Mark Finchem, a guy who is hoping to become our next secretary of state.

Meanwhile, the death threats keep arriving at Arizona election offices.

“If you c--- lickers continue to f--- with the integrity of AZ elections, I guarantee you We the People will remove you from office,” reads the latest one received by Secretary of State Katie Hobbs. “Additionally, if you own a home... We will find you through the Tax Assessors Website... Remember the French Revolution of 1799?”

Take a good look, America. This is what two years of unending lies and misinformation – of false cries that you cannot trust our elections – will get you.

Cochise County spurns vote counting machines

Once again, the world is watching Arizona, and what an ugly picture we present.

In Cochise County, the Republican-run Board of Supervisors, convinced that tabulation machines are the handmaiden of the devil, on Monday voted to hand count the dozens of races on its Nov. 8 ballot. It’s supposed to provide a check on the machines, but more likely it’ll lead to more delays in naming the winners, more lawsuits in challenging the results and inevitably, more voter distrust in democracy.

Gen Z voters: We're told we will 'fix everything.' Voting in the midterms is the first step.

Hand counts are notoriously inaccurate – not to mention illegal under state law, according to Cochise County Attorney Brian McIntyre, the Pinal County Attorney’s Office, the Secretary of State’s Office, the Arizona Legislative Council and most anybody else schooled in election law.

Which mattered not a whit to the two Republicans on the three-member Board of Supervisors in this tiny southeastern Arizona county.

“It’s about the people, it’s about our right to vote and how our votes are counted and feel confident in the election process,” Supervisor Peggy Judd proclaimed on Monday, before casting her vote to proceed with the hand count.

Kari Lake won't accept the results if she loses

Ah, election integrity.

Apparently, the only way we can proclaim it exists is if Lake becomes our next governor.

For months, she has been setting the stage, Trump-style, warning Arizona voters that they cannot trust any election result that doesn’t result in her becoming our next governor.

Gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake delivers remarks during former President Donald Trump's rally in Mesa on Oct. 9, 2022.
Gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake delivers remarks during former President Donald Trump's rally in Mesa on Oct. 9, 2022.

On Sunday, she was at it again, repeating debunked claims about a “stolen” 2020 election and hinting that she won’t accept a loss in November.

“I will accept the results of this election if we have a fair, honest and transparent election,” she told ABC News' Jonathan Karl. “Absolutely, 100%.”

Of course, the odds of her accepting that any election in which she’s the loser as “fair, honest and transparent” are zero.

Her entire campaign is based on the lie that the 2020 election was stolen – a lie she has gleefully sold to gullible voters despite any actual evidence of a plot to steal the election.

Fraud that apparently continues … in her mind, at least.

Let Kari Lake be a warning siren: Are you aware of the chaos election deniers will bring?

Voters are being photographed, videoed

In late July, Lake told a far-right group in Anthem that she was already “detecting some stealing going on” in the Aug. 2 primary election.

“You haven’t seen me when they try to steal something,” she said. “I’m gonna go supernova radioactive. We’re not gonna let them steal an election.”

As with the 2020 election, she never backed her claim of fraud, and it apparently didn’t matter, anyway, because she won. But just imagine the tortured cries of conspiracy we would have had to endure had she lost.

Meanwhile, voters who want to deposit their early ballots in drop boxes this week or next must be prepared to be photographed, videoed and investigated by citizen vigilantessome of whom dressed early for Halloween in their camo, tactical gear and, of course, guns.

Arizona police monitoring ballot drop boxes after multiple voter intimidation complaints.
Arizona police monitoring ballot drop boxes after multiple voter intimidation complaints.

All of whom have been told – repeatedly, incessantly, incorrectly – that we can’t trust our elections. That our system of democracy has been, as the Prescott-based Lions of Liberty put it, “hijacked and undermined by global elites, communists, leftists, deep state bureaucrats, and fake news.”

Never mind that the evidence exists only in their fevered imagination.

This snake oil has slimed Arizona elections

The snake oil has slimed our beloved state. And it just may be enough to allow a slate of far-right extremists to ooze their way into office.

“WATCH ALL DROP BOXES. PERIOD. SAVE THE REPUBLIC,” Mark Finchem wrote, in a recent post on Truth Social.

What he really means is “elect me.”

Finchem is one of the state’s loudest conspiracy kooks, a backbench legislator who hopes to become Arizona’s next secretary of state so that he can oversee the 2024 elections.

Mark Finchem, Republican candidate for secretary of state.
Mark Finchem, Republican candidate for secretary of state.

He’s running with Kari Lake, a former TV news anchor who, in the name of “election integrity,” plans to make it harder to vote – in part by killing the early voting program favored by 80% of voters.

And Abe Hamadeh, the lightly experienced attorney who is vowing "perp walks" stemming from the 2020 election, should voters be gullible enough to make him our next attorney general.

Surely, before planning “perp walks,” the state’s top legal officer ought to have evidence that an election was stolen? That a crime was committed?

Or not.

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It could be a tough 4 years of chaos if they win

This, America, is what democracy looks like when a group of far-right fanatics mounts an orchestrated campaign to shred our fundamental faith in elections and seize power in a purple state.

From Senate President Karen Fann and her phony election audit to Arizona Republican Party Chairwoman Kelli Ward and her fake electors. From Donald Trump’s anointed candidates, Lake and Finchem and Hamadeh.

Whatever the result of the vote, they tell us, you can’t trust it. Not unless they win.

With two weeks until the election, it’s chaos in Arizona.

Now take that and multiply it by four years ...

Reach Roberts at laurie.roberts@arizonarepublic.com. Follow her on Twitter at @LaurieRoberts

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Drop box voter intimidation? What's going on with Arizona election?