GOP nominees for Arizona’s three statewide seats contested state election results from last month’s midterm elections, with all three narrowly trailing their Democratic rivals in close races. Republican nominees Cary Lake, running for governor, Mark Finchem, running for secretary of state, and Abe Hamadeh, running for attorney general, filed challenges Friday, four days after the state certified the vote and declared winners in several races.
Governor and Senate races. In the governor’s race, Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) defeated Lake by about 0.6 points. Democrat Adrian Fontes defeated Finchem by nearly 5 points in the race to become the next secretary of state. Democrat Chris Mayes leads Hamadeh by 511 votes, but the race is on a recount as Mayes leads by less than 0.1 points. Arizona law requires any race to automatically go to a recount if the margin is within 0.5 points.
Recounts for the attorney general race, state superintendent race, and state House race began Wednesday. Candidates also have five days after certification to formally contest the election results in court. Amid controversy over the nation’s election process, Lake Hobbs and Maricopa County sued the recorder, board of supervisors, and director of elections in their official capacities.
Some voting locations in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix and is the state’s most populous, had problems with ballot printers whose ink tabulators were too easy to read. Election officials resolved the issue on Election Day by allowing voters to wait in line, vote at another polling station, or drop their ballot in a special box until the issue was resolved.
But Lake’s campaign argued that improper checkout procedures and ballot mix-ups left some affected voters’ ballots uncounted. The campaign asked a state judge to extend voting in the county on Election Day, but the judge denied the request, finding no evidence that anyone was denied the chance to vote. Lake, who refused to concede to Hobbs, claimed in his lawsuit that the number of “illegal votes” cast in the race “far exceeded” Hobbs’ nearly 17,000-vote lead.
She claimed that thousands of Republican voters were disenfranchised as a result of “election abuse” in Maricopa County. She said printer errors occurred in more than 130 of the county’s 223 voting centers, but only county 70 experienced the problem. Republicans outnumber Democrats by a 3-to-1 ratio, Lake said, and are therefore disproportionately affected by the printer issue.
She said thousands of Republican voters put off voting because of the long wait or stayed away from the polls after hearing about the “chaos.” Lake previously sued Maricopa County election officials seeking answers to her public records requests about mechanical problems on Election Day. Finchem – along with Jeff Zink, the Republican nominee for Arizona’s 3rd Congressional District – Fontes, Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), and Hobbs filed his suit.
Gallego easily defeated Zink in their House race to represent the 3rd District, which includes parts of Maricopa County. Finchem and Zink argued in their filing that the machines in Maricopa County provided voters with “weak and unsatisfying” alternatives. Later he said that the votes cast in the special box for counting were never counted. They noted that Hobbs, the state’s top election official overseeing the election, was also running for governor at the same time.
They told her to leave, but she refused, Finchem and Zink argue, “refusing to lose control of an election she hoped to directly benefit from — a stunning display of illegal and unethical behavior.” The lawsuits filed against Hamadeh and the Republican National Committee (RNC), Hobbs, and each of Arizona’s boards of recorders and supervisors differed from Lake and Finchem in that the plaintiffs did not expressly allege fraud, manipulation, or other willful wrongdoing.
Affected the outcome of the race. However, they said there were ‘some errors and mistakes in the management of polling centers and tabulation of some ballots. The suit alleges that election officials illegally denied voting to some qualified people on at least seven occasions, miscounted some ballots, and included some illegal votes in the attorney general’s race.