Election Chaos Threatens Maricopa County Recorder’s Reelection Prospects

Stephen Richer

Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer faces reelection, going up against two primary opponents and a Democratic challenger. Conservatives are furious at his denials that there was significant wrongdoing in the 2020 and 2022 elections, but he may lose reelection based on merely long lines and voting complications, which frustrated voters.

Voters encountered problems casting their ballots at 70 of the 223 vote centers in Maricopa County on Election Day in 2022, resulting in long lines and concerns that ballots were not tabulated or misread.

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Arizona Election Official Who Fought Against Hand Counting Ballots Hired as State’s Elections Director

Lisa Marra

An Arizona election official who resigned from her former position in Cochise County over her refusal to hand count ballots in the 2022 elections is now the statewide election director after a promotion from Secretary of State Adrian Fontes.

Lisa Marra was appointed by Fontes to become the Arizona Elections Director and will oversee equipment testing, candidate filings, election night reporting and canvassing during the 2024 elections.

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Arizona Free Enterprise Club Files Lawsuit Against Adrian Fontes over ‘Illegal’ and ‘Most Radical’ Elections Procedures Manual in Arizona’s History

The Arizona Free Enterprise Club (AFEC) filed a lawsuit last week against Secretary of State Adrian Fontes, accusing him of making illegal changes to the state’s Election Procedures Manual (EPM). Represented by the America First Policy Institute, Davillier Law Group, and Grand Canyon Legal Center, AFEC said the revisions improperly place protected political speech at risk of criminal prosecution and have an unconstitutional chilling effect on protected political speech.

“Secretary Fontes has produced one of the most radical elections procedures manuals in our state’s history,” said Scot Mussi, AFEC’s president. “If the illegal provisions of this manual are allowed to stand, the integrity and transparency of state elections would continue to dissipate at the hands of leftwing ideologues. We hope the court agrees with our arguments and forces the Secretary to adhere to state law.”

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Arizona Election Fraud Deniers Hold Event Discussing Election Reform, Andrew Yang Warns of Arizona Ushering in a ‘Dark, Authoritarian Government’

A group of leading election fraud deniers spoke at an event in downtown Phoenix put on by the civic organization Arizona Talks. The forum was moderated by Steve Goldstein, a longtime PBS host who recently moved on to join Save Democracy AZ, which is pushing open primaries. The panelists consisted of failed Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer, Secretary of State Adrian Fontes, and Jackie Salit, president of Independent Voting.

Goldstein said he supports rank-choice voting. He said since the Arizona Legislature isn’t getting the reforms passed that he wants, he recommends a version of ranked-choice voting to select legislators and members of Congress since he said their seats are gerrymandered — that picks the top two for those offices. He complained that members of the two parties no longer cross the aisle to vote with the other side, implying that the Republicans in the legislature aren’t compromising as much as they used to. The 2023 legislature is one of the most conservative in recent years, with several brand-new legislators scoring at the top of conservative ratings.

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Court Rules Arizona’s Ballot Signature Verification Guidance Doesn’t Have Force of Law

A court in Arizona ruled that the Secretary of State office’s ballot signature verification guidance does “not have the force of law,” dealing a blow to the state’s Democrat leaders.

The ruling in the Superior Court of Yavapai County came after an election integrity group challenged Arizona’s new Elections Procedures Manual (EPM). 

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President of Arizona Free Enterprise Club Threatens Lawsuit Against Secretary of State Over Voter Rolls With More Registered Voters Than Adults

Attorneys for Scot Mussi, the president of the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, sent Democratic Secretary of State Adrian Fontes a letter earlier this month threatening litigation if Fontes did not clean up the state’s voter rolls. Attorneys Jason Torchinsky and Dallin Holt of Holtzman Vogel said they “determined that at least four counties have more registered voters than adult citizens over the age of 18.” Apache County had the highest, with 117.4 percent, and Maricopa County was close to 100 percent with 97.8 percent.

The attorneys warned, “This letter provides statutory notice that Scot Mussi, acting as a registered Arizona voter with a substantial interest in secure elections, will bring a lawsuit against you and, if appropriate, against the counties named in this letter, if you fail to take specific actions to correct these violations of Section 8 within the 90-day timeframe specified in federal law.” In anticipation of the litigation, the letter asked Fontes and the 14 counties to “take steps to preserve documents.” 

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Arizona Legislative Leadership Threatens Litigation Against Secretary of State Fontes over Draft Changes to Election Procedures Manual

Every two years, the Arizona Secretary of State is required by law to update the state’s Election Procedures Manual (EPM), but similarly to what happened in 2021, the process is not going smoothly. After reviewing the proposed changes Secretary of State Adrian Fontes suggested making to the EPM, State Senate President Warren Petersen (R-Mesa), accompanied by Speaker of the House Ben Toma (R-Peoria), issued a statement on Monday threatening legal action.

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Gov. Hobbs’ Closed Door Task Force Recommends 20 Changes to Arizona Elections

The Elections Task Force (ETF) created via executive order by Governor Katie Hobbs has recommended 20 changes to Arizona elections, including moves to prevent ballot drop boxes from being observed by citizen groups and restore the voting rights of felons.

Hobbs’ ETF agreed to advance 20 of 22 total proposals it generated to consider during a Thursday meeting that was closed to the public, including members of the media. It was the second full meeting of the group, which Hobbs chairs, since she created it via executive order in January.

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Former Arizona Election Integrity Unit Attorney Jennifer Wright Blasts Fontes’ New Draft of State Election Procedures

Democratic Arizona Secretary of State (AZSOS) Adrian Fontes started sending proposed draft revisions of parts of the state’s Election Procedures Manual (EPM) to county recorders around the state.

Jennifer Wright, who served as the Election Integrity Unit civil attorney under former Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, where she was extensively involved in reviewing then-Secretary of State Katie Hobbs’ proposed changes to the EPM, said she believes several of the first round of proposed changes would violate the law.

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Arizona Secretary of State Subpoenaed in Jack Smith’s Trump Probe

Special counsel Jack Smith expanded his Trump probe to Arizona by sending two subpoenas to the Arizona Secretary of State requesting information about 2020 election lawsuits filed by Republicans.

Smith, who so far has brought 37 charges against the former president, issued two subpoenas requesting documents from one election lawsuit brought by Trump’s campaign, and a second by former Arizona Republican Party Chair Kelli Ward.

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Mark Finchem Responds to Sanctions for Bringing Election Challenge over Voter Disenfranchisement in His Race

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Melissa Julian awarded sanctions last week against Mark Finchem and his attorney Tom McCauley over Finchem’s lawsuit challenging his election loss in the secretary of state’s race. Democrat Adrian Fontes, who won the race, asked the court for sanctions in December. Finchem and McCauley will be required to pay attorneys fees; the legal costs of Fontes’ and then-Secretary of State Katie Hobbs’ office defending against the lawsuit. 

Finchem issued a statement after the ruling. “The 6-page order by Judge Julian to award lawyer reimbursement to leftist litigators who represent the Sinaloa Cartel, now the installed Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes, and Katie Hobbs, the installed Governor of Arizona, is contemptible judicial overreach beyond all statutory and Rules of Civil Procedure for the Superior Courts of Arizona,” he said. “This award is designed to quash any and all dissent where elections are in question. The Maricopa County 2022 election was the most embarrassing election in American history. As a result, 70% of Americans doubt the outcome of the 2022 elections in Arizona (Rasmussen Poll).” 

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Maricopa County Leadership Furious That Brnovich Didn’t Agree with Two Employees Who Denied There Was Voter Fraud, Eight Bar Complaints Filed

Democrat Attorney General Kris Mayes issued a press release Thursday criticizing her predecessor Mark Brnovich for not agreeing with two of his employees that there was no election fraud. Now, Maricopa County officials and others skeptical of election fraud are chiming in and agreeing with her.

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Explosive Testimony at Senate Elections and House Municipal Oversight & Elections Joint Meeting Accuses Hobbs, Fontes, Runbeck, and Judges of Racketeering

The Arizona Legislature’s Senate Elections Committee and House Municipal Oversight & Elections Committee held a joint hearing on Thursday featuring testimony from several people involved in researching the voter disenfranchisement that occurred in 2020 and 2022. The testimony by Arizona forensic investigator Jacqueline Breger accused multiple statewide and county officials, including Governor Katie Hobbs and Secretary of State Adrian Fontes, of racketeering connected to the Sinaloa Cartel. Democrats on those committees refused to attend the hearing.

Breger said she has been working with a law firm investigating multistate racketeering and corruption, but in the process discovered election fraud as well. She said neither she nor the attorney she works for are very political; he didn’t vote in the last two elections and she is a registered independent. While investigating racketeering involving the Sinaloa Cartel, their team accidentally discovered election fraud, she said, including finding that Maricopa County’s database is being infiltrated from the outside. “The Maricopa County database has absolutely no integrity whatsoever,” she declared. “Racketeering enterprises are inextricably intertwined with election fraud.”

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Arizona Secretary of State Fontes Refuses to Accept HAVA Complaint About Election Discrepancies

Gail Golec, who unsuccessfully ran for Maricopa County Supervisor last year, and 10 other Arizonans filed a complaint with Arizona Secretary of State (AZSOS) Adrian Fontes last month alleging violations of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) during last year’s midterm election, but the office rejected it. The complaint followed the procedures laid out in federal statutes, however the AZSOS responded and said the complaint didn’t establish any violations to investigate under HAVA.

Golec told The Arizona Sun Times that her team drafted the complaint based on the language in HAVA, so it didn’t make any sense that the AZSOS claimed the election discrepancies weren’t covered by HAVA. She said the problem is fundamentally how the AZSOS is viewing elections, which she believes is dismissive of real complaints. “It’s not ‘fair and equal’ elections, it’s ‘free and equal’ per Article II Section 1 of the Constitution,” she said. “We’re going to turn the lights on to stop the gaslighting and take this country back.”

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Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer and Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes Discuss Adding More Ballot Drop Boxes

Secretary of State Adrian Fontes, whose victory is being challenged by Republican candidate Mark Finchem, hosted a panel discussion with election fraud denier Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer this week.

ABC-15 Data Analyst Garrett Archer moderated the event at the Valley Bar in Phoenix, the bipartisan pair discussed the 2022 midterm election.

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House Speaker Ben Toma’s Ballot Image Bill Passes Through Elections Committee

A new bill from Arizona State House Speaker Ben Toma (R-Peoria), which involves the publication of election ballot images, passed through the House Municipal Oversight & Elections Committee Wednesday. State Sen. Ken Bennett (R-Prescott), a former Arizona Secretary of State, has a mirror bill in the State Senate and spoke in favor of Toma’s bill during the meeting.

“I don’t think this is a partisan issue. We have got to come together somehow as Republicans and Democrats in Arizona to make our elections transparent, trackable, and publicly verifiable,” Bennett said.

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Republican Legislators Oppose Participation in Katie Hobbs’s Election Task Force Nominations

Arizona State Senate President Warren Petersen (R-Mesa) and House Speaker (R-Peoria) sent a letter to Governor Katie Hobbs Monday, outlining their concerns with the Elections Task Force (ETF) created through Executive Order 2023-03.

“We agree that election reform is necessary. But we question whether your unilateral decision to appoint a task force and direct it to address this subject of paramount and statewide importance is an appropriate exercise of your authority,” according to the letter.

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Abe Hamadeh Continues Efforts for a New Trial as Kris Mayes Again Requests Sanctions

Republican Abe Hamadeh is continuing his attempt at a new trial in his election challenge, alleging he was denied due process during his first court appearance.

“Judges, not executive branch nor election officials, are the arbiters of justice. After all, if this — the closest statewide office election in Arizona history — is not worth an exacting review, whatever could be,” Hamadeh tweeted. “Without honest and transparent elections, nothing else matters.”

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New Bill from Rep. Rachel Jones Would Bar an Arizona Secretary of State from Certifying Their Own Election

One of Arizona’s newest Republican State Representatives, Rachel Jones (R-Tucson), introduced a new bill that would prevent a Secretary of State from certifying an election in which they participated.

“So, I think it is pretty clear what the intent of this bill is. It is basically saying if a current Secretary of State is running for another office, such as happened in the 2022 election with Katie Hobbs running for governor, this is just getting rid of any potential conflicts of interests with that individual,” Jones said while introducing her bill to the House Municipal Oversight and Elections Committee.

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Maricopa County Judge Dismisses Mark Finchem’s Election Lawsuit, Affirms Fontes as Arizona Secretary of State-Elect

In a 13-page decision Friday, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Melissa Iyer Julian dismissed with prejudice a lawsuit challenging the certified election outcome by former Republican secretary of state candidate Mark Finchem, KOLD News 13 reported.

Julian’s ruling rejected Finchem’s allegations of misconduct and election administration errors, goes on to forbid Finchem from refiling a future complaint on the same grounds. Judge Julian also and affirmed Democrat Adrian Fontes is the state’s Secretary of State-elect.

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Mark Finchem Files Lawsuit Contesting Election Results, Contends at Least 60,624 Ballots Were Not Counted in Maricopa County

Three of the Trump-endorsed candidates in Arizona who lost their races filed lawsuits contesting the election results. Gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, attorney general candidate Abe Hamadeh, and secretary of state candidate Mark Finchem all filed lawsuits on Friday.

Finchem’s complaint, which was filed jointly in Maricopa County Superior Court with Jeff Zink, a Republican candidate who lost his race challenging Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ-07), named Gallego, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, who was declared the gubernatorial winner over Lake, and incoming-Secretary of State Adrian Fontes, who defeated Finchem, as defendants.

Zink was later dropped from the complaint in an amended complaint filed on Monday.

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Mainstream Media Outlets Project Democrat Wins in Two Arizona Races as 390,000 Ballots Remain Uncounted

Maricopa County continues to drop nightly ballot dumps, with Friday’s results adding another 74,000 votes to the total, allegedly including ballots dropped off on Election Day. Despite predictions that tonight’s dump would swing in Republicans’ favor, Democrats cling to a lead across the significant races.

“They want you to be demoralized. There’s no reason to be. Our path to victory lies in the overwhelmingly red votes that Maricopa County either hasn’t counted or has deliberately chosen not to release. Hold the line,” said the campaign of Republican Gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake.

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Arizona Conservatives Respond to Prominent Republicans Endorsing Democrats, Say They’re ‘Inconsequential Has-Beens’

Some Republicans in Arizona have publicly endorsed Democrats in this election, sparking conservative Republicans in the state to respond dismissively. A long list of “RINOs” predictably endorsed Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ), and now more have come out endorsing some of the other candidates running against the Trump-endorsed slate for higher offices.

State Representative Jake Hoffman (R-Queen Creek), who frequently receives the top rating from organizations as Arizona’s most conservative legislator, told The Arizona Sun Times, “Politics has always been an arena full of self-aggrandizing grifters. The cold reality, though, is that no one, especially not the conservative Republican electorate, cares what a tiny handful of inconsequential has-beens and establishment profiteers thinks.”

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Accusations Fly Between Finchem, Fontes During Arizona Secretary of State Debate Focused on Voter Fraud

Trump-endorsed State Representative Mark Finchem (R-Oro Valley) faced off against Democratic former Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes in a debate Thursday evening hosted by Clean Elections on KAET PBS. Most of the lively exchange focused on the candidates’ stark differences regarding voter fraud, with Fontes more dismissive and Finchem stating election integrity is a priority. 

Finchem said in his opening statement that he is running due to what’s happened to the office under the current officeholder, Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, who is running for governor. He said he wants to “restore honor, integrity, and security” to the position. “It’s not up to the secretary of state to make the law, they enforce the law that’s already laid down.” In addition to other controversies, Hobbs has been involved in a high-profile legal dispute with Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich for making changes to the state’s Election Procedures Manual that Brnovich asserts are outside of her authority.

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Trump-Endorsed Mark Finchem Leads Adrian Fontes by over Six Points in Arizona Secretary of State Race: Poll

A new poll from The Trafalgar Group shows Trump-endorsed State Representative Mark Finchem (R-Oro Valley), who is running for Arizona secretary of state, more than six points ahead of his opponent, Democratic former Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes. Conducted between September 14 and 17, the survey of 1,080 likely voters by the Republican-aligned pollster found that 47.5 percent chose Finchem and 41.1 percent chose Fontes.

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Arizona Attorney General Brnovich Asks Cochise County Attorney for Felony Criminal Investigation into Arizona Secretary of State Hobbs

Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs has come under fire for her handling of the electronic system used to collect online signatures for political candidates, E-Qual. The system was not updated to accommodate new redistricting, which has made it very difficult for campaigns to collect enough signatures in time to make the ballot this fall. On March 17, Hobbs took the entire system offline, making it impossible to collect any signatures at all online, so Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich asked Cochise County Attorney Brian McIntyre on March 29 to “investigate and take any appropriate enforcement actions (civil and criminal).”

McIntyre told the Arizona Sun Times, “I can confirm that we have received the request and begun the investigative process.”

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Democratic Former Maricopa County Recorder Running for Secretary of State Calls to Impeach Attorney General Brnovich

Adrian Fontes of Arizona

Democratic former Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes, who is running for Arizona Secretary of State, is calling for the Arizona Legislature to impeach Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich. The former county elections chief said it is due to Brnovich’s “grotesque political self-service, abuse of office, and other bad acts.” 

Fontes declared, “It is well past time for Arizona’s legislative leadership to investigate, for possible impeachment proceedings, the increasing instability of our state’s top prosecutor.”

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Kari Lake, Mark Brnovich Have Highest Favorability in Their Arizona Primary Races

Kari Lake, Mark Brnovich

A new poll from OH Predictive Insights shows former news anchor Kari Lake with the highest approval rate of Republicans running for governor of Arizona and Attorney General Mark Brnovich with the highest approval rate of Republicans running for the U.S. Senate. Lake scored 60% with Republican voters, well ahead of former Congressman Matt Salmon with 51% and former State Treasurer Kimberly Yee at 49%. On the Senate side, Brnovich has 61% compared to veteran Michael McGuire next with 43% and businessman Jim Lamon’s 39%. Blake Masters, a protege of GOP tech billionaire Peter Thiel, entered the race after the poll was conducted.

According to a general election matchup, Hobbs’ approval rating is slightly higher than Lake’s, 40% to 39%. Hobbs has very high name recognition due to her high-profile fight against the Maricopa County ballot audit. Hobbs also has a fairly high disapproval rating relative to the other candidates in the poll, 27%. She once referred to Donald Trump supporters as “neo-Nazis.” She also tweeted “The President is on the side of the freaking Nazis. Don’t just say stuff – DO SOMETHING!!!” She has not deleted the tweets.

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