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What candidates for governor, secretary of state, attorney general say about 2020 election

By Hank Stephenson and Rachel Leingang/Arizona Agenda
Published: Monday, June 27, 2022 - 4:13pm
Updated: Monday, July 18, 2022 - 11:38am

Editor's Note: Arizona Agenda is a political insider newsletter that focuses on the effects of political decisions and the people behind them. Its goal is to help Arizonans better understand the state’s political scene and how the government works so they can make informed decisions and hold their leaders to account. To learn more, visit arizonaagenda.substack.com

Major candidates for three key offices in 2022 have said they wouldn’t have certified the 2020 election results in Arizona.

These offices — governor, secretary of state and attorney general — all play a role in affirming state election results.

We rounded up each GOP candidate’s statements on that front in this handy cheat sheet on election denialism. We used their comments to the media, on social media, during debates and on their campaign websites to compile this guide, all of which are linked to when we cited them.

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In some cases, you’ll see a candidate who has directly said they would decertify the 2020 election. In others, a candidate has not directly said the election was stolen, but also didn’t directly say it was completely fair.

We’ll focus on the Republican candidates for key offices that have some role in signing off on or defending election results at the state level. We aren’t mentioning the Democratic candidates because, uniformly, they did not believe the 2020 election showed irregularities that required more laws or overturning election results.

Your county recorder, supervisors and elections directors play direct roles in election administration in Arizona, so be sure to look up the candidates running for those officers and their positions in elections processes that matter to you.

Governor

What role this position plays in elections: Arizona’s governor signs off on certifying state election results. In 2020, Gov. Doug Ducey signed the state’s election certification despite a pressure campaign from Trump and his allies. The certification is typically unceremonious.

Kari Lake: The former TV anchor has said she believes Donald Trump won the 2020 election in Arizona, and she wouldn’t have certified the 2020 election results if she were governor then. She’s claimed votes were cast fraudulently to sway the election in Maricopa County. She has also pushed for decertification of the results, releasing a one-word statement in 2021 that simply said, “Decertify!” She has promoted a host of election conspiracies, including recently touting the debunked documentary “2000 Mules.”

Karrin Taylor Robson: Robson’s campaign website says she supports voter ID, ballot harvesting bans and “other measures to secure the vote,” which aren’t specified. The wealthy former regent hasn’t gone as far as Lake in the 2020 election, though in a recent New York Times story, she said “Joe Biden may be the president, but the election definitely wasn’t fair.” In a follow-up by the Arizona Mirror, Robson’s campaign pointed to problems in the 2020 election, like media coverage of Biden, tech companies removing conservative accounts and voting rules being changed because of the pandemic.

Matt Salmon: Salmon hasn’t called for decertification or said he wouldn’t have signed off on the 2020 election. The former congressman has released a “voter bill of rights” that includes proposals like a voter ID law for mailed ballots, a ban on ballot harvesting, more hand counts of ballots, increased surveillance of ballots and more. He supported the Maricopa County audit and said Attorney General Mark Brnovich should investigate its findings while calling for a statewide audit as well. He said there were “serious discrepancies” in the 2020 election in Maricopa County.

Scott Neely: Fringe candidate Neely has called the 2020 election “stolen” and references a series of debunked or incomplete claims of fraud on his campaign website. His website includes claims of “careless, shoddy election practices and procedures” and says he would seek new voting laws as governor and further investigate the Maricopa audit’s findings.

Paola Tulliani Zen: Biscotti queen Zen says she wants to get rid of voting machines and voting by mail. On her campaign website, she calls for voter ID laws, a “secure ballot ID,” strictly limited mail voting, breaking up Maricopa County into four counties and more. She says she wants to “decertify and remove all non-secure voting machines.”

Secretary of state

What role this position plays in elections: The secretary of state is the chief elections officer, responsible for certifying state election results. They also create the Elections Procedures Manual, which dictates how county officials run elections. They maintain the statewide voter registration database, and they certify and test election equipment.

Mark Finchem: The Trump-endorsed state lawmaker is one of the most prominent Stop the Stealers in Arizona, repeatedly calling the 2020 election a fraud and seeking to overturn its results. This year, he introduced a measure in the Arizona House of Representatives seeking to decertify the 2020 election results in Maricopa, Pima and Yuma counties. He called the 2020 election “irredeemably compromised” and said “it is impossible to name a clear winner of the contest.” His campaign website features a petition he asks people to sign to support decertifying the 2020 election and “setting aside” Arizona’s electors. In 2020, he was one of 30 lawmakers who signed a functionally meaningless resolution sent to Congress seeking to install a group of fraudulent electors to vote for Trump or instead “nullify” the state’s electors for Biden “until a full forensic audit can be conducted.” He was present at the U.S. Capitol Stop the Steal event on Jan. 6, coming close to the Capitol building. On his campaign website, he claims, “Americans witnessed real-time reallocation of votes from one candidate to another, broadcast on national television” during the 2020 election.

Shawnna Bolick: Bolick, a state representative, also signed on to the 2020 resolution seeking to throw out Arizona’s electors. She introduced a bill in the Arizona House that would have allowed a simple majority of the Arizona Legislature to revoke the Arizona Secretary of State’s certification of electors at any time before inauguration. In an op-ed about the bill, she advocated for a legislative committee that would instead review elections and decide on a slate of electors. The bill went nowhere, and Bolick has since walked back that plan. After the results of the Maricopa County audit were released, she called for a statewide election audit.

Michelle Ugenti-Rita: The state senator has authored many conservative elections bills over her years in office, including a ban on ballot collection, a bill approved this year that will expand the number of recounts and one signed into law last year that turned the Permanent Early Voting List into the Active Early Voting List after the 2024 election. She has publicly derided the Arizona Senate’s audit after initially supporting an audit of the 2020 election, which led to her getting booed at a MAGA event last year. She has acknowledged that Biden won the 2020 election. On her campaign website, she says she wants a uniform system of voting in each Arizona county and says that “holding county election officials accountable” is part of her plan to restore confidence in elections.

Beau Lane: Lane, an executive at advertising agency Lane|Terralever, signed on to a 2021 Greater Phoenix Leadership letter opposing three Senate bills that would have limited early voting access, including one sponsored by Ugenti-Rita. While he’s talked about restoring faith in elections, he hasn’t called for decertifying election results or installing other offices in the certification process. On his campaign website, Lane says he supports “common sense” changes to election law, like voter ID for in-person voting, keeping voter rolls current and more transparency in ballot chain-of-command and counting procedures.

Attorney general

What role this position plays in elections: The attorney general also witnesses the certification of state election results. As the state’s chief legal officer, the attorney general could investigate and prosecute election issues. The AG’s Office has an “election integrity unit.” After the 2020 election, Attorney General Mark Brnovich affirmed Arizona’s election results for Biden, though he has since sent a letter taking swipes at Maricopa County’s election.

Lacy Cooper: Cooper, a former prosecutor in the ​​U.S. Attorney's Office, told the Republic she wouldn’t comment on whether Biden won the state because it wasn’t appropriate for her to weigh in while the AG’s office has an open investigation. In the Arizona PBS debate, she said she would have signed off on the state’s results as a witness with the information available at the time. She said claims of fraud need to be investigated while the election is underway instead of after the fact.

Rodney Glassman: Glassman, a frequent candidate for various Arizona offices, told the Republic he didn’t believe Biden legitimately won the election in Arizona, saying Trump “was cheated out of Arizona’s electoral votes” and pointing to media bias, a ballot measure and Brnovich. In the Arizona PBS debate, Glassman said Brnovich didn’t make the right choice as a witness and said the state didn’t properly enforce laws on voter ID and ballot harvesting.

Andrew Gould: In the Arizona PBS debate, the former Arizona Supreme Court justice said, as a prosecutor, he needed to focus on provable facts. With the information the AG had at the time, he might have been able to get enough information to hold up the certification process if there was more than anecdotal evidence about election law violations. Gould didn’t directly say if Brnovich should’ve signed, but said that if there were “enough evidence to prove at least substantial questions, then I wouldn't have signed.”

Dawn Grove: Grove, a corporate lawyer, parsed her words in the Republic, saying Biden was the “officially elected president” while nodding to “rightful questions about the integrity of the 2020 election.” In a debate on Arizona PBS, Grove said the AG needed to investigate more before signing off on the 2020 election results and said she had a hard time thinking she would have had the confidence in the process to sign as a witness.

Abraham Hamadeh: Hamadeh, a former prosecutor, said Biden did not win Arizona in 2020. He told the Republic the 2020 election was “rotten, rigged, and corrupt” and said he would prosecute over the 2020 election. He said in the Arizona PBS debate that he wouldn’t have signed off on the 2020 results if he were AG and claimed he received multiple mail-in ballots at his home. He said there needed to be more arrests over the 2020 elections. On his campaign website, Hamadeh says he would increase the number of prosecutors and investigators in the AG’s Election Integrity Unit “in order to be prepared and protect the 2024 election.”

Tiffany Shedd: In the Arizona PBS debate, Shedd said she would never want to be in a position of witnessing a certification if she wasn’t certain the election was carried out with integrity. Going forward, the attorney said she would not certify an election unless she knew state laws were enforced and there was election integrity.

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