Trump supporters protest at the state Capitol on Nov. 8, 2020. Many of the protesters were motivated by baseless allegations that Joe Biden cheated to defeat Donald Trump. /Photo by Jeremy Duda / Arizona Mirror
By Jeremy Duda | Arizona Mirror
Gov. Doug Ducey said Arizona “will respect the election results,” a subtle rejection of the bogus claims that President-elect Joe Biden cheated his way to victory in the state, but he has yet to publicly condemn or reject the conspiracy theories proliferating about the election.
Ducey has consistently urged media outlets and others not to declare winners in races that may be too close to call in Arizona, and on Monday he again reiterated that message as the state awaited the final tally of as many as 76,000 votes. President Donald Trump has consistently whittled down Biden’s lead but still trailed by nearly 17,000 votes as of Monday morning.
“Our expectation is that we finish counting. We’ve been through this drill before in Arizona,” Ducey said in a press statement on Monday. “We’ve already seen the outcome of races change to a dramatic degree, and some results remain unclear. The President, just like any other candidate, has the right to all available legal challenges and remedies, and we are confident they will be properly adjudicated.”
The governor also reiterated his oft-repeated line that Arizona makes it “easy to vote and hard to cheat.” “We will respect the election results,” Ducey added.
That statement would seem to rebut the groundless election fraud claims and conspiracy theories that began proliferating last week after Biden pulled ahead in key states like Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, erasing the president’s election night leads.
However, Ducey has consistently refused to comment on the specific claims, even as throngs of protesters gather at the Capitol and the Maricopa County Elections Department on a daily basis, alleging without evidence that Democrats have committed election fraud in various states. He has issued general defenses of Arizona elections, but hasn’t explicitly pushed back against the fraud claims, some of which have been espoused by other prominent Republican officials in the state.
Ducey’s office also declined to comment on whether the supported Senate President Karen Fann’s call for an independent investigation into all data related to the tabulation of votes in the 2020 general election in Arizona. Fann, R-Prescott, said she’s not alleging fraud, but that others are, and said an investigation would help alleviate their concerns.
Early claims that the use of Sharpie pens invalidated Trump voters’ ballots were dispelled last week after Maricopa County elections officials explained that the ink was preferable for the new machines the county used for elections this year. Since then, allegations in Arizona and elsewhere have focused on the voting machines used in many states, including the disputed swing states.
At a protest at the Capitol Sunday morning, numerous speakers insisted that Biden and the Democrats won through fraud in a number of states, including Arizona, often blaming the voting machines used in those states. Many attendees expressed confidence that Trump will ultimately prevail once Biden’s alleged fraud is fully exposed, and that the president will be sworn in for a second term.
Leaders in other swing states, Republican and Democrat alike, have explicitly rejected those allegations. In Georgia, where Biden leads by less than 11,000 votes, Republican Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan told CNN on Sunday that his office hadn’t seen any “credible examples” of election fraud. And in Michigan, Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said there “has not been any evidence of anything that would undermine the validity of this election,” as Republicans call for investigations into the election.
In Arizona, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, has vigorously defended the conduct of the election, including from claims made by elected Republicans.
GOP Congressman Paul Gosar, for example, claimed there have been reports of “rampant fraud” and called on Ducey to convene a special session of the legislature to “investigate the accuracy and reliability of the Dominion ballot software and its impact on our general election,” despite a total lack of evidence that there were any problems with the software used by the Maricopa County Elections Department.
And Kelli Ward, chair of the Arizona Republican Party, has called for a hand count of all paper ballots and said those ballots should not be run through the machines.
Hobbs, who has appeared on national news programs numerous times over the past week to defend the conduct of the election in Arizona, pushed back on Gosar’s allegations on Twitter.
“This is utterly ridiculous and you don’t know what you’re (talking) about. It is irresponsible for elected officials to be undermining the public’s faith in our elections the way you are,” Hobbs wrote in response to Gosar’s call for a special session.
Patrick Ptak, a spokesman for the governor, emphasized that Ducey has spent months defending Arizona’s election process. And two days after the election, Ducey said in a press release, “In Arizona, we count votes received up until Election Day. That’s it. No judges have intervened and no last-minute changes have been enacted. We’re following established Arizona election law to the letter.”
But Ptak declined to answer questions about Ducey’s view on specific claims. He wouldn’t comment on whether the governor believes the election was conducted fairly in Arizona, whether there was widespread fraud or whether he shared the concerns voiced by Gosar and Ward that the results from the Dominion Voting machines and software used by Maricopa County were suspect.