Republican candidates and conservative media organizations seized on reports of voting issues in Arizona on Tuesday to re-up their case that the state’s elections are broken and in need of reform, at the same time as state and county officials said the complaints were exaggerated.
“We’ve got irregularities all around the state,” Mark Finchem, who won the Republican nomination for secretary of state in Arizona, said before his victory was announced.
Gateway Pundit, a conservative website that breathlessly covered the election rumors on Tuesday, wrote that Arizona’s largest counties were apparently “rife with serious irregularities which were occurring all day long, sparking much more concern for election integrity.”
There isn’t any evidence of any widespread fraud in Tuesday’s election. However the concerns raised were bolstered by a variety of problems in Pinal County, the state’s third-most populated county, situated between Phoenix and Tucson. Greater than 63,000 ballots were mailed with the flawed local races on them, requiring latest ballots to be issued. On election night, at the least 20 of 95 precincts in Pinal County were running low on ballots or ran out entirely.
Sophia Solis, the deputy communications director of Arizona’s secretary of state, said voters could still solid a ballot at those precincts using voting machines which can be typically utilized by disabled voters.
“We didn’t hear of any widespread problems,” Ms. Solis said, adding that “certainly one of the most important issues that we did see yesterday was the spread of mis- and disinformation.”
Kent Volkmer, the attorney for Pinal County, said there have been more in-person voters within the county than had been seen before, including much more independent voters. He added that many citizens surrendered their mail-in ballot in order that they could vote in person, possibly motivated by the ballot-printing issues.
“We don’t think that there’s nearly as many individuals who were negatively impacted as what’s being related to the community,” Mr. Volkmer said.
One common talking point on Tuesday resurrected a false theory from 2020, often called Sharpiegate, which claimed that markers offered by poll staff were bleeding through and invalidating ballots. Election officials have said that machines can read ballots marked with pens, markers and other instruments, and any issues will be reviewed manually.
“That is Sharpiegate 2.0,” Ben Berquam, a conservative commentator, said on a livestream. Mr. Finchem shared the conspiracy theory on his Twitter account. The campaign for Ron Watkins, a congressional candidate for Arizona’s Second District who got here in last place in his race on Tuesday, also suggested that Mr. Watkins’s votes were being artificially slashed.
Many election fraud theories focused on the governor’s primary race between Kari Lake, the Trump-endorsed former news anchor, and Karrin Taylor Robson, who was endorsed by former Vice President Mike Pence. Ms. Lake was badly trailing her competitor for a lot of the night, whipping up election fraud theories amongst her supporters. She eventually took the lead.
Ms. Lake’s allies suggested during a livestream that the outcomes were suspicious because many other Trump-aligned candidates were winning their races. In Arizona, mail-in ballots received before Election Day are counted first, and polling suggested those would barely favor Ms. Taylor Robson. In-person votes were counted on election night, and Ms. Lake’s supporters preferred voting in person.
As counting continued late into the night, Ms. Lake claimed victory while she was still trailing Ms. Taylor Robson.
“When the legal votes are counted, we’re going to win,” Ms. Lake said at her election night party. The Associated Press has not yet called the race.