'Serious voter suppression': Calls for a redo election heard at Arizona Capitol
By Monday, Arizona counties are required by law to certify the results of the election, but protesters Friday morning demanded a halt of the certification process and rallied for a revote to occur in December.
Gathered across the street from the state Capitol, a peaceful group of around 200 people waved American flags and held signs regarding claims of a stolen election that disenfranchised voters.
"Where is our recourse with the Legislature?" outgoing Mesa Republican state Sen. Kelly Townsend asked a growing audience Friday morning. "We're talking about serious voter suppression."
On Wednesday, Townsend issued a subpoena to Maricopa County demanding information and answers about Election Day problems which she claims left voters disenfranchised.
A prominent Election Day problem promoted by GOP candidates and legislatures revolves around tabulation machine errors. It was claimed these machines produced ballots that were too light to be read by vote-counting machines, giving voters the option on Election Day to wait, place their ballot in a secure box that would be tabulated later, or go to another polling station.
It was reported that 70 of Maricopa County's 223 voting centers experienced issues, but Maricopa County election officials have discredited the issue and believe no voters were disenfranchised. The county and state officials have said they will carry out certification of the election on Dec. 5 even if some counties don't.
Townsend was not alone in her demands this week as Kari Lake and Abe Hamadeh who lost the races for governor and attorney general, respectively, filed lawsuits challenging the election results.
These officials believe Republicans voters were disenfranchised by these printer issues as Republicans are most likely to vote in person on Election Day and these machine errors occurred "in primarily Republican areas of town," Lake said on Election Day.
However, a Republic analysis found the problems were roughly evenly split between precincts going for Lake and those going for Hobbs with a slightly higher percentage in Lake's precincts.
On Friday morning, protesters overwhelmingly agreed with the sentiment that voters were disenfranchised, and many took the stage to share their own accounts of Election Day problems. Organizers asked attendees to fill out affidavits that can be used in court to support their cause.
"We are taking people's affidavits, their sworn testimony of their voting experience," said Deborah Boehm, an organizer with Affidavit Mommas on Friday. "A lot of people have had multiple problems with their voting experience."
These affidavits filled out at the event were being notarized and will be sent to Attorney General Mark Brnovich and far-right radio show host Jovan Hutton Pulitzer, who Boehm said they expect will work to help their efforts.
A mix of beliefs about disenfranchisement were heard at the event.
Although this protest was focused on the 2022 election results, a fair number of attendees wore Trump merchandise and waved Trump flags, supporting long-standing election-denying beliefs from the 2020 election. This crowd continued with the sentiment that the 2022 election was rigged and incited fears that tabulation errors were purposeful.
Other concerns were that tabulation errors caused frustrated people to abandon their ballots on Election Day or that certain ballots were not counted due to the chaos that occurred.
To rectify any concerns about Election Day problems, protesters demanded a do-over election that would occur with only in-person voting on Dec. 6 that would overturn the results of the Nov. 8 election.
"We want another election with only paper ballots all in one day and counted that day," Boehm said. "We don't want any machines involved in it at all."
Some of their other demands were that a special master would be assigned to oversee the new election, removing Katie Hobbs, Bill Gates, and Steven Richer from election oversight. Protesters wanted to halt certifications from the Nov. 8 election. All 15 counties are required to certify the canvass by the end of the day Monday. The statewide canvass is due on Dec. 5, requiring Gov. Doug Ducey, Brnovich and Secretary of State Katie Hobbs to sign off on the results.
With a plentitude of speakers, including Colorado right-wing podcaster Joe Oltmann and supporters from other states such as California and Wisconsin, the protest was a peaceful and nonviolent demonstration with no law enforcement present.
There was one impassioned incident shortly after 9 a.m. regarding a man who showed up with a Confederate flag.
When the man entered into the main congregated area, protesters asked him to leave, called him a white supremacist, and screamed out that he did not "support the movement" they were fighting for.
After racist comments from the flag-wielder and screams from protesters that the media would only portray the image of the Confederate flag, protesters allowed the man to stay in his own corner and told the crowd not to give him "any more attention."
The protest, which continued into Friday afternoon and supposedly will occur again on Saturday, gave people an opportunity to connect with one another and share their thoughts and concerns about the election in a public space.
Many speakers focused on the next steps of fixing a "corrupted" local government, besides calling for a new election.
"We've got to get organized and united," said Dan Schultz, a Republican Party precinct committeeman. "Uniting here publicly is one thing to do, but let's use it to unite locally."
Schultz called on attendees to become precinct committeemen in their districts and other speakers asked those gathered to run for their local school boards and attend school board meetings to support conservative members.
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Protesters at Arizona Capitol call for redo of 2022 election