Politics Maricopa County leaders are pushing back against voter denial...

Maricopa County leaders are pushing back against voter denial in Arizona


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A Donald Trump supporter holds a “Trump Won” sign before a rally in Florence, Ariz., on Jan. 15. The former president, who lost both the state and presidential elections in 2020, has endorsed several contested candidates in Arizona. year

By Robin Beck/AFP Getty Images

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By Robin Beck/AFP Getty Images

A Donald Trump supporter holds a “Trump Won” sign before a rally in Florence, Ariz., on Jan. 15. The former president, who lost both the state and presidential elections in 2020, has endorsed several contested candidates in Arizona. year

By Robin Beck/AFP Getty Images

Arizona has been a hive of electoral denial for the past two years.

State Senate Republicans led a deeply flawed review of the 2020 vote in Arizona’s largest county, keeping Maricopa County in the spotlight for months.

Former President Donald Trump came to the state last week to pick off Republican candidates who rejected the election, including gubernatorial hopefuls. Curry Lake and state representative Mark Finchem, who is running for secretary of state.

Despite discredited reviews and false claims about the 2020 election, this year’s primary, scheduled for Tuesday, is no different in Maricopa County.

“For all the noise about election administration, from a user perspective it’s going to look a lot like the 2020 experience,” said Stephen Richer, a Republican who is the Maricopa County recorder.

Richer pointed out that the election review, including the Maricopa County elections, turned up nothing, because the county completely denied the claims of wrongdoing. The review also confirmed that Trump lost the state in 2020.

“I think we’ve had more scrutiny on the Maricopa County election process than any jurisdiction in the United States,” Richer said. “And, you know, that process was found not to be fundamentally flawed.”

Maricopa County has some new wrinkles for the 2022 primary. For example: Most of the ballots have been left out. Instead, the county expanded its number of polling places, where all voters could drop out or vote early.

But that’s discretionary — small changes counties can make locally. Many elections are governed by state law, such as how early ballots were mailed to most Maricopa County voters in early July, as usual.

While there was legislation to get rid of the state’s popular ballot-by-mail system, Richer and enough Republicans, like Maricopa County Supervisor Bill Gates, lobbied to prevent it from becoming law. (A new law, which makes sweeping changes to the state’s early voting rolls, has not yet gone into effect.)

“We are up against many forces, many leaders of the Republican Party in Arizona and nationally, who are spreading this misinformation,” Gates said. “But again, fortunately, we also have people who stood up and supported our election workers.”

Gates specifically credited GOP House Speaker Rusty Bowers, who drew Trump’s ire by rejecting efforts to overturn the 2020 election — and who gained national attention for his testimony to a House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riots. One handed bower Torpedo Some far-reaching election bills.

“I think it shows recognition that our system works, it all speaks to the problems in the system. [was] Political talk, but not reality,” Gates said.

Maricopa County Supervisor Bill Gates testifies during a U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Oct. 7, 2021, to examine the Republican-led review of the 2020 elections in Maricopa, Arizona’s most populous county.

Bill Clark/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

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Bill Clark/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

That fact is a testament to the work of officials like Ray Valenzuela and Scott Jarrett, co-directors of elections in Maricopa County.

Jarrett, who was hired in 2019, described the past two years as a trial by fire. After all this, he said he was “excited” about the upcoming elections. “I look forward to getting back to the nuts and bolts of election administration,” he said.

Valenzuela says the pair now spend more time spreading good information to fight evil.

“On a personal level, it’s difficult, because we want the voter to have accurate, maximum, best information — not only to choose and participate in the process, but, again, to know that the elections are safe, secure, and have integrity,” he said. said

Both believe that — though lying about the 2020 vote because they belong to the state Republican Party — with a successful 2022 election in hand, the county could turn a corner heading into 2024.

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