Arizona's Cochise County certifies election results after ordered to by a judge

After being ordered to do so by a judge just 90 minutes earlier, the Cochise County Board of Supervisors voted Thursday afternoon to certify its election results.

Earlier Thursday, Pima County Superior Court Judge Casey McGinley ordered the supervisors to meet at 3:30 p.m. to certify the canvass of their county’s midterm election results after they failed to do so by the Nov. 28 deadline. Missing that deadline prompted Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and an advocacy group to file separate lawsuits to force the county to certify the election.

McGinely told the board, who was not represented by an attorney after the county attorney refused to defend the supervisors, that in missing the deadline it had “exceeded its lawful authority.”

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Republican Supervisor Peggy Judd said at the emergency board meeting that she couldn’t bring herself to make the motion to certify the election results herself, but voted in favor of it when Chairwoman Ann English made the motion. During previous meetings, Judd and Tom Crosby, who refused to attend the canvass, both voted to delay election certification.

The pair had previously said they refused to certify the election results based on the false belief that the electronic tabulators the county uses have not been certified under state and federal law.

But Crosby acknowledged in court on Thursday that wasn’t true, telling the judge that the supervisors had only failed to certify the election results by the deadline because the certification hadn’t been properly put on the agenda for the Nov. 28 board meeting and that the supervisors fully intended to certify the results during a meeting set for Friday morning.

That explanation was different than what Judd told national media outlets this week. She told both the New York Times and the Daily Beast that the delay in certifying the election — past the statutory deadline — was a form of protest against Election Day problems that happened in Maricopa County.

Judd remained defiant Thursday afternoon, even as she voted to canvass the election.

“I can’t say enough about how important this effort is that we made and I am not ashamed of anything that I did,” Judd said.

Judd added that she felt she must vote to certify the election because of the court order, saying she believes in the rule of law, and because of the impact of some health issues she’s been experiencing.

“I know I’m going to disappoint a lot of people and I’m going to make a lot of people happy,” Judd said.

I think it’s a circus that doesn’t need to have to happen. I’ve had enough. I think the public has had enough.

– Cochise County Supervisor Ann English

English said she was glad the county had given a voice to those with concerns about the midterm election, but advised those with gripes about election law to take up their fight with the state legislature, which creates the laws that govern elections.

“It’s time for us to move forward to issues that impact Cochise County beyond the election,” English said.

In ordering the board to certify the election, McGinley said that state law is explicitly clear that the board has a nondiscretionary duty to canvass the election and has no statutory authority to reject the results.

A county board can only delay the canvass beyond the deadline, on a day-to-day basis, if some of the results are missing. But none of the supervisors in Cochise County had claimed that any of their results are missing, giving them no justification for failing to meet the deadline for approving the election results.

Secretary of State and Gov.-elect Katie Hobbs filed suit against the supervisors Monday, the same day they voted not to certify the results of the Nov. 8 election by the deadline set by state law.

Only about two hours before the 1 p.m. court hearing, the supervisors approved hiring Daniel McCauley, a Cave Creek attorney, to represent them. But McCauley never filed a notice with the court that he would be representing the board, and he did not show up in court.

Crosby stumbled through an attempt to represent himself in court, asking for the hearing to be rescheduled for next week to give McCauley time to prepare, but McGinley denied that request.

Lawyers for the Secretary of State’s Office and the Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans, both plaintiffs in the case, argued that there was too much at stake to grant the supervisors more time since the secretary of state, governor, attorney general and chief of the state supreme court are all set to certify the state election results on Dec. 5. Although the state canvass can legally be delayed until Dec. 8, Hobbs’ attorney said it would be impossible to do so because the state officials required by law to attend were only available on Dec. 5.

Judge Casey McGinley on Dec. 1, 2022. Screenshot via KGUN9/pool

McGinley initially favored allowing the board to canvass the election on Friday — something the board had already intended to do, Crosby and Judd told him. But English asked him to order them to meet Thursday because the Republican commissioners weren’t simply planning to meet to approve the election.

English said the meeting agenda, which had been made public earlier, included “sort of a smack down between the Secretary of State and election deniers that (Crosby) has on the agenda.”

The supervisors planned to give the election deniers 12 minutes each to state their cases and then would give the secretary of state a chance to respond to their claims, before a vote to certify the election results. Set to speak during the meeting were Paul Rice, Daniel Wood and Brian Stein, who are all 2020 Maricopa County election deniers. Then Crosby, who sets the board’s agenda, had time set aside for the Secretary of State’s Office to make its case for why the election was valid.

“I think it’s a circus that doesn’t need to have to happen,” English said. “I’ve had enough. I think the public has had enough. So, I’m asking the court for a swift resolution.”

Lawyer representing the Secretary of State’s Office, Andy Ganoa added that the office had “no intention of participating in such a charade.”

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Arizona Mirror is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Arizona Mirror maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Jim Small for questions: info@azmirror.com. Follow Arizona Mirror on Facebook and Twitter.

Arizona's Abe Hamadeh and Kris Mayes separated by just 143 votes in attorney general race

Republican Abe Hamadeh, who trails by dozens of votes in the race for attorney general, is the only candidate endorsed by former President Donald Trump in a statewide contest that still had a chance to come out ahead.

Fellow Trump-endorsed Republicans Kari Lake and Mark Finchem have refused to concede in races for governor and secretary of state that their Democratic opponents have clearly won.

Hamadeh cut into Democratic opponent Kris Mayes’ lead this week as results were incrementally released, and on Thursday he inched closer to her, at one point to within 55 votes.

When ballot counting ended Thursday afternoon, Mayes maintained a razor-thin lead of 143 out of 2,500,931 votes. There are an estimated 11,070 votes left to count statewide, almost all of which are in Maricopa and Pima counties.

The race will go to an automatic recount under Arizona’s new law that calls for a recount when the margin between the two candidates is 0.5% or less.

A report from FairVote, an elections reform organization, found that recounts rarely change the outcome of races, and the margins must be incredibly close for that to happen — like in this race.

“In the 6,297 statewide general elections from 2000 through September 2022, there were 35 completed statewide recounts,” Will Mantell, press secretary for FairVote said in an email. “Only three of those 35 recounts overturned the outcome of the race. In all three, the original margin of victory was less than 0.06%.”

Mayes and Hamadeh are separated by 0.006 percentage points.

After Democrat Katie Hobbs defeated Lake in the governor’s race and Adrian Fontes beat Finchem in the contest for secretary of state, both Republican candidates promised to keep fighting.

In the days since the Nov. 8 election, Lake, Finchem, Hamadeh and their supporters have been asking voters who experienced issues at Maricopa County polling places to share their stories as evidence of voter disenfranchisement.

About 30% of polling places in Maricopa County had ballot printer issues on Election Day that caused tabulators to fail to read those ballots. Voters were given the choice to put their ballot in a box to be tabulated later at the county’s central tabulation center, to cancel their ballot and try with a new ballot or to head to a different polling place.

Many voters have shared stories via videos posted on social media about their frustrating and time-consuming experiences voting on Election Day, but none so far have claimed that the issues kept them from voting. In some of the videos, the voters acknowledged that their votes were tabulated at the polling place.

“I am still in this fight with you,” Lake said in a video posted Thursday morning.

In response to Lake’s claims, the Hobbs campaign likened Lake to Trump and his refusal to acknowledge defeat in the 2020 presidential election.

“Let’s be clear: Refusing to accept the result of an election because you don’t like the outcome is unacceptable — and it’s this type of dangerous rhetoric that led to the deadly January 6 insurrection,” the Hobbs campaign said in an email to supporters on Thursday.

Lake’s campaign told its followers on Thursday that those in charge of certifying the election had an important decision to make.

“Will they certify an election with record voter suppression & let @katiehobbs systematically destroy this state?” the campaign tweeted. “Or will they let the people of Arizona have a free & fair vote?”

Some Republicans in Arizona have called for the results of the midterm in Maricopa County to be thrown out and for a new election to be held, something that is not allowed by state law.

Lake hasn’t called for a new election, but she did hint at a possible upcoming lawsuit.

“We’ve been busy here, collecting evidence and data,” Lake said in the video. “Rest assured, I have assembled the best and brightest legal team. And we are exploring every avenue to explore the many wrongs that have been done this past week. I’m doing everything in my power to right these wrongs. My resolve to fight for you is higher than ever.”

The Lake campaign published a video Wednesday evening featuring clips of Lake campaigning, doing interviews and shooting target practice, to the soundtrack of “I Won’t Back Down” by Tom Petty.

The Hobbs campaign did not respond directly to the Arizona Mirror’s request for a comment on Lake’s refusal to concede.

“Governor-elect Katie Hobbs is laser-focused on her transition, building a team that is ready to hit the ground running on Day One,” Hobbs campaign manager Nicole DeMont said in an email. “Arizonans made their voices heard on November 8th, and we respect the will of the voters.”

Arizona Mirror is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Arizona Mirror maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Jim Small for questions: info@azmirror.com. Follow Arizona Mirror on Facebook and Twitter.

Republicans are falsely claiming that Arizona used to know final election results on Election Day

Republicans in Arizona and elsewhere have insisted that the days-long tabulation of early ballots, particularly in Maricopa County, is a new phenomenon that is aimed at undercutting faith in the elections and harming GOP candidates.

They’re flat wrong about the history, however: Final election results have never been available on Election Night in any Arizona county.

What’s changed isn’t that late-arriving early ballots are counted after election day, but that Arizona has gone from a ruby red state where Republicans dominated the vast majority of election contests — typically on the strength of early ballot returns — to a deep purple state where races up and down the ballot are close.

Those close races mean candidates, voters, pundits and the national media are focusing intently on Arizona’s post-Election Day tallies.

None of that has stopped Arizona GOP candidates and their allies across the country from crying foul about the process that has existed in the Grand Canyon State since the early 1990s, when Republicans here pioneered no-excuse early mail-in voting and crafted state laws to ensure only legal early ballots are counted and maximize accessibility for Arizona voters.

Kari Lake, the GOP nominee for governor, insisted on Election Day that Arizonans knew the results of their elections on Election Night until Maricopa County began using voting centers exclusively in 2020. The voting centers model allows registered voters to show up at any polling location instead of being limited to casting a ballot only at their assigned precinct voting site.

Records from Maricopa County elections over the past 22 years show that has never been the case. Media outlets, like the Associated Press, might have called races in the past when election night returns showed that one candidate was blowing out another, but the fastest the county has released final results in a midterm election since 2000 was six days, in 2002.

And that election had far fewer ballots cast than this year, with only 723,867 voters participating in the election. This year’s count is expected to be more than 1.5 million.

After Maricopa County’s latest vote drop Sunday evening, Lake was still behind her Democratic opponent Katie Hobbs, with Hobbs at 50.5% of the vote and Lake at 49.5%, with around 26,000 votes separating the two. Lake has said she’s still confident she is going to win, but has continually questioned the accuracy and competency of elections in Arizona and promised to call a special session of the state legislature to make changes to the process as soon as she is elected.

Maricopa County added around 98,600 ballots to its count Sunday evening, most of which were early ballots dropped off at polling places on Election Day. The county estimated that around 94% of ballots had been counted as of Sunday, with around 94,000 ballots left to be counted.

Elections workers have until Wednesday to contact voters and fix issues found with around 8,000 early ballots.

“I know people are very anxious to get the results, but there’s nothing out of the ordinary here,” Republican Maricopa County Supervisor Bill Gates told reporters Friday.

He added that the county simply follows state election law, and if people think that the laws should be changed, they should speak to their state legislators.

Gates also expressed frustration that some national news networks were spreading misinformation about elections in Maricopa County.

“Yeah, I’m going to stand up for my state,” he said. “Maybe not everyone here is, but I am. We’re not doing anything wrong at all.”

The only time since 2000 that Maricopa County released its final election results the day after a November election was in 2017, during a small local election conducted only by mail.

In that Nov. 7, 2017, election, only 245,951 ballots were cast in a local election that included mostly school district ballot questions.

The longest time between a midterm or presidential election and the county posting its results in the 21st Century was in the 2008 presidential election, when final results weren’t posted until 17 days after the election.

In that election, 1,380,571 ballots were cast in Maricopa County. So far in this election, 1,474,943 ballots have been counted.

Prior to this year’s election, the county and its elections department attempted to prepare those keeping an eye on Arizona races for a slow rollout of results, but that didn’t stop Republican candidates and pundits from claiming that the county is deliberately “slow-rolling” its ballot tabulation.

Many people criticized Maricopa County for counting its ballots so much more slowly than counties in Florida, but election laws and processes in Florida and Arizona are very different.

Florida only allows voters to drop their mail-in ballots at their county elections office on Election Day, while Arizona voters can drop off their ballots at any drop box or polling location on Election Day.

In Maricopa County, a record 290,000 people dropped off their early ballots on Election Day this year. Elections workers didn’t even begin to start counting those ballots until Wednesday morning. Before those ballots are tabulated, their barcodes are scanned to ensure that they came from a registered voter who hasn’t cast another ballot in this election. Then elections workers check the signature on the envelope against past signatures from the voter. After that, a bipartisan team separates the ballot from the envelope and checks that the voter received the correct ballot.

Once all those steps are completed, the county can tabulate the ballot.

“I think it’s unfair for people to criticize Maricopa County for following the law and making sure that only eligible voters’ votes are counted,” Gates said.

Below are the timetables for when Maricopa County released its final results in every presidential and midterm election since 2000, along with the number of ballots cast in each election.

Arizona Mirror is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Arizona Mirror maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Jim Small for questions: info@azmirror.com. Follow Arizona Mirror on Facebook and Twitter.

Democrats expand their leads in Arizona races

After tens of thousands more votes were added to the tally Thursday in Arizona’s midterm election, Democratic candidates for statewide office increased their leads over their Republican opponents.

But results were far from final with more than 570,000 ballots in Arizona left to be counted, including some 330,000 uncounted ballots in Maricopa County. Republicans are betting big on those ballots, predicting that they will more closely resemble in-person Election Day results — which they dominated nearly two-to-one — than the early ballots that were received before this week, which largely favored Democrats.

Democratic candidates took early leads when the initial results of the Arizona midterm election were posted Tuesday evening, but Republican candidates soon destroyed most of the Democrats’ breathing room after more votes were added to the count late Tuesday into Wednesday.

Thursday’s ballot returns, which included early ballots returned over the weekend and on Monday, largely favored Democrats.

The governor’s race, which is being watched by Republicans and Democrats across the country, remains exceedingly close, with Democratic nominee Katie Hobbs at 50.7% of the vote and her Republican opponent Kari Lake at 49.3%. But Hobbs increased her lead over Lake Thursday from about 13,000 votes to nearly 27,000.

And Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly increased his lead over Republican challenger Blake Masters from roughly 95,000 votes to almost 115,000 on Thursday, giving him 51.7% of votes to Republican Blake Masters’ Masters’ 46.1%. Libertarian Marc Victor dropped out and endorsed Masters shortly before Election Day, but his name still appeared on ballots; more than 2% of voters cast ballots for him.

Democratic secretary of state candidate Adrian Fontes grew his lead over Republican Mark Finchem from about 90,000 votes to more than 109,000 votes, an advantage of more than 5 percentage points.

Kris Mayes, the Democratic candidate for attorney general maintained a thin lead over Republican Abe Hamadeh, with 50.4% of the vote to his 49.6% for a lead of 16,414, an increase over the 4,200-vote margin she had at the beginning of Thursday.

In the race for schools chief, Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman, a Democrat, took a narrow lead Thursday over Republican Tom Horne, with 50.1% of the vote to his 49.9%, for a tiny lead of 3,852 votes.

Final results aren’t expected until sometime next week.


Arizona Mirror is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Arizona Mirror maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Jim Small for questions: info@azmirror.com. Follow Arizona Mirror on Facebook and Twitter.

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Arizona Republicans slash Democratic leads, say they expect to win

As more votes were tallied Wednesday, Republican candidates in Arizona began to catch up to their Democratic opponents who took early leads, but full results won’t be available for several days, at the earliest.

And with the eyes of the nation on the Grand Canyon State, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs went from a 14-point lead on election night that was nearly demolished the next day by her Republican opponent Kari Lake. As of Wednesday evening, the race was neck and neck with Hobbs at 50.3% and Lake at 49.7%. The pair are separated by only 13,067 votes.

In another incredibly tight race, Democratic candidate for attorney general Kris Mayes held on to a narrow lead over Republican Abe Hamadeh, with 50.1% of the votes to his 49.9%, with only 4,243 votes separating the two. Mayes also had a 14-point lead on her opponent on election night; Hamadeh narrowly took the lead for several hours on Wednesday before ballots favoring Mayes were reported.

Both Lake and Hamadeh are Trump-endorsed 2020 election deniers, with Lake saying that Arizona elections will have a “come to Jesus moment” if she’s elected. On Wednesday, she pledged to immediately call lawmakers in for a special legislative session to pass election reforms if she becomes governor.

“No more incompetency and no more corruption in Arizona elections,” Lake told the crowd at a Republican election night event on Tuesday.

No evidence of widespread voters fraud was found in Arizona in 2020, despite a partisan “audit” of the election in Maricopa County, and the state’s Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s assertion that his office investigated every report and found nothing.

Lake, a former local TV news anchor, expressed confidence that as more ballots were counted, she would overtake Hobbs, the current Arizona secretary of state.

Lake remained optimistic on Wednesday, saying that ballots being counted favored her “bigly.”

Lake was a guest on Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson’s show Wednesday night, where she said she was “100% certain” that she was going to win.

“When those votes come in, I think we’re going to see a lot of liberal minds blowing up,” Lake said.

She continued to criticize Arizona elections and the drawn-out tabulation process, saying that if she becomes governor, Maricopa County will go back to small precincts instead of larger voting centers, and that she would get rid of the electronic tabulation machines.

Carlson suggested that using paper ballots would be more secure, seemingly unaware that nearly every Arizona voter uses a paper ballot, which is then counted using machines. Those machines are subject to a post-election audit, and must go through pre- and post-election accuracy tests, all of which is required by state law.

Hobbs, meanwhile, urged patience through the counting process.

“In 2020, we stood firm to protect our democracy,” Hobbs tweeted Wednesday. “In 2021, we stood firm against the sham audits. In 2022, we will stand firm again until every ballot has been counted. So hang tight Arizona — and let’s let our local election officials do their jobs, without fear or interference”

Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly maintained his lead over Republican Blake Masters Wednesday, with 51.4% of the vote to Masters’ 46.4%.

Around 2.1% of votes in the Senate race went to Libertarian candidate Marc Victor, who dropped out shortly before the election and endorsed Masters. But Victor dropped out after many people had already voted early, and Victor’s name remained on the ballot.

“With the remaining ballots outstanding, we are confident we will win,” the Masters campaign tweeted Wednesday.

Republican gains on Wednesday were expected, since the initial election results released Tuesday night came from early ballots that tended to lean more Democratic. Many of the ballots tallied Wednesday were cast in-person on Election Day, and leaned heavily Republican. After their party criticized and questioned voting by mail over the past several years, many Republicans waited until Election Day to cast their votes.

Democratic Secretary of State candidate Adrian Fontes maintained a narrow lead with 52.4% of the vote over his Republican opponent Mark Finchem’s 47.6%.

Finchem clawed his way back after Fontes had an 18-point lead on election night.

Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction candidate Tom Horne overtook his Democratic opponent, incumbent Kathy Hoffman with 50.2% of the vote to her 49.8%.

Arizona Mirror is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Arizona Mirror maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Jim Small for questions: info@azmirror.com. Follow Arizona Mirror on Facebook and Twitter.

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Republican early ballot turnout down, but the GOP is expected to surge on Election Day

Democrats are leading turnout among early voters, but analysts expect them to decimate that deficit when they show up to vote in-person on Election Day.

“Republicans are underperforming right now compared to historic norms, but that’s because they’re going to show up on Election Day,” Paul Bentz, a pollster and political consultant at HighGround Public Affairs, told the Arizona Mirror. “I don’t expect a suppressed voter turnout. I expect a significant amount of Republican enthusiasm on Election Day.”

Sam Almy, a political consultant and data analyst for Democratic consulting firm Uplift Campaigns, said the intensity of GOP turnout on Election Day is difficult to predict, but the strong Democratic early voting turnout gives that party’s statewide candidates a solid chance to win races.

“I think what the good news is here is that Democratic turnout is on par with 2018, and earlier in the year a lot of the thought was Democrats are going to get crushed this year,” he said.

As of Monday, some 1.4 million ballots had been returned statewide ahead of Tuesday’s midterm election. So far, registered Democrats have returned 579,000 ballots and 560,000 registered Republicans have returned their ballots, as have 370,000 voters who are unaffiliated with the two main parties, according to data compiled by Democratic consulting firm Uplift Campaigns.

That means about 36.5% of Arizona’s 4.1 million registered voters have already cast their ballots. Nearly 46% of Democrats, 39% of Republicans and 26% of unaffiliated voters have voted

The turnout advantage for Democrats is a stark departure from 2018, the last midterm elections — before voting by mail became a lightning rod for Republicans in the wake of former President Donald Trump’s demonization of it in 2020.

Democratic early voting turnout is slightly lower this year compared to four years ago — 46.5% in 2018 compared to 45.6% this year — but the number of GOP early ballots received by elections officials has cratered. In 2018, more than half of Republican voters had cast their ballots by the day before the election, but less than 39% did this year.

Here’s the compare to EV day 24 in 2018. Not much change in turnout deficit for GOP voters. Dem turnout dropped 1% vs EV day 23
Dems will need 18&20 voters tomorrow
Total:⬇️88k ballots⬇️6.5% TO
Dem: 🔼38k ballots ⬇️ 1% TO
GOP:⬇️100k ballots⬇️12% TO
IND:⬇️26k ballots⬇️5% TO pic.twitter.com/qc2Wnlh2Ep
— Sam Almy (@sfalmy) November 7, 2022

“It’s highly likely that we’ll see close races, and races where Democrats are winning, but when the Election Day ballots are counted, in particular, those will definitely trend Republican,” Bentz said.

It’s hard to predict for sure how many Republicans will show up to the polls on Tuesday, but Bentz expects an overall voter turnout similar to the last midterm in 2018, at around 65%.

And there are still plenty of Republican voters who cast a ballot in the last four elections and still haven’t voted in this one. That history is a strong indicator that they will vote in this election.

Around 200,000 registered Republican voters have voted in the last four Arizona elections but had not cast a ballot yet in this election, as of Saturday, compared to 95,000 Democrats and 76,000 independents, according to data from Uplift.

Of those who had yet to vote, as of Friday, 14% were Republicans who had voted in at least three of the last four elections.

Why is everyone expecting big GOP turnout on Eday? Here’s a look at the vote history of voters who have NOT returned a ballot.
4×4 R voters outnumber 4×4 D 2:1. Of remaining votes, 14% are from GOP voters who have voted in at least 3 of the last 4 general elections. pic.twitter.com/ehxS5eSYmE
— Sam Almy (@sfalmy) November 5, 2022

Bentz said he expects at least 1 million Republicans to vote in this election in Arizona, meaning more than 400,000 Republicans will likely cast their votes in person on Election Day.

Both Bentz and Almy agreed that independent voter turnout could make a significant difference in the outcome of Arizona races. Roughly 33% of Arizona voters, about 1.4 million people, are not affiliated with either major party.

Political polls have generally shown that independent voters have favored the Democratic candidates, making their turnout vital to victory for Democratic candidates.

“We expect that if the Independents show up, they’ll trend more toward the Democratic candidates, but the question is, will they actually show up?” Bentz said, adding that no Republican candidates have been polling with more than 40% approval from independent voters.

Of the Arizonans who are registered but didn’t vote in the last four elections, independent voters made up the majority, at 275,000, compared to 96,000 Republicans and 109,000 Democrats, according to Uplift.

Phoenix Democratic strategist Rodd McLeod said he believes that Democratic candidates still have a chance to win all the big statewide races.

“Turnout looks good for us so far, but it’s not over until it’s over,” McLeod said. “I don’t think anybody knows what’s actually going to happen.”

He added that enthusiasm is high coming from both Republican and Democratic voters.

Want more election coverage?

Visit NewsFromTheStates.com to monitor national trends and read the latest from across the States Newsroom network.


Arizona Mirror is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Arizona Mirror maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Jim Small for questions: info@azmirror.com. Follow Arizona Mirror on Facebook and Twitter.

Kari Lake wants an AZ law banning Big Tech ‘censorship’ of conservatives


Kari Lake wants to implement laws in Arizona that stop social media platforms from censoring speech from Arizonans on their sites, Lake told conservative talk show host Steven Crowder in an interview Tuesday.

“It is absolutely outrageous and it should be criminal to take somebody who’s running for office and take their voice away for political reasons,” Lake said.

Crowder has previously been banned from YouTube for hate speech and is currently on a two-week suspension for violating the platform’s harassment, threats and cyberbullying policy.

Lake’s statement came a day after Republican candidate for Arizona secretary of state Mark Finchem was temporarily banned from Twitter for violating unspecified rules, before the platform’s new owner, Elon Musk reinstated his account.

Lake, the Republican candidate for Arizona governor, said she’d like Arizona to pass laws similar to those already on the books in Texas and Florida.

Lake herself is a prolific Twitter poster, promoting campaign events, interviews and regularly calling out and poking fun at her Democratic opponent Secretary of State Katie Hobbs.

Texas passed a law last year that stops large social media platforms from banning posts based on the poster’s political viewpoints.

NetChoice and the Computer & Communications Industry Association, which challenged the Texas law in court, said it prevents social media platforms from rooting out extremism and foreign propaganda from their sites. The Texas law was temporarily blocked and then reinstated by an appeals court in September.

Most of the Florida law, also passed last year, is currently enjoined after a district and an appeals court agreed that it violated the social media platforms’ First Amendment rights to determine what speech is expressed on their sites.

The Florida law bars social media platforms from taking down the accounts of journalistic enterprises and Florida candidates for office, and it also requires use of the same criteria across platforms to determine which posts and accounts are taken down.

“It’s a town square, it’s a place where ideas are floated, and we need to have freedom of speech,” Lake told Crowder about what she views as an inalienable right to speak on social media platforms.

Lake and Crowder both have some skin in the game when it comes to social media censorship, after an episode of Crowder’s show posted in August that featured an interview with Lake was removed from YouTube for spreading election conspiracy theories.

During that interview, Lake told Crowder she believes that Joe Biden is not a legitimate president, saying Donald Trump beat him in the 2020 election, a claim she’s spread with no evidence throughout her campaign for governor.

“We had a botched, corrupt election in Arizona,” Lake said during the Aug. 11 interview, citing supposed evidence including the partisan “audit” of the 2020 election in Maricopa County, which found no evidence of fraud.

Crowder’s show has been suspended from YouTube multiple times, the most recent of which is a two-week suspension that started over the weekend and which Crowder called “election interference” because it stops him from posting content on YouTube until after the Nov. 8 midterm elections.

Arizona Mirror is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Arizona Mirror maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Jim Small for questions: info@azmirror.com. Follow Arizona Mirror on Facebook and Twitter.

Kari Lake says Arizona’s strict abortion laws will put more rapists in jail. Critics say that’s nonsense.

Kari Lake claimed in an interview on Sunday that new abortion restrictions could lead to “locking up a lot more rapists.” But exactly how that would happen is unclear, and critics say the idea is utter hogwash.

Lake, the Republican nominee for governor, made the assertion during a televised interview by KTAR radio host Mike Broomhead that was sponsored by the Arizona Clean Elections Commission.

“I think what will happen as we see new laws taking place and we’re seeing babies being protected, we are going to be locking up a lot more rapists,” Lake said. “We’re going to be locking up people who are raping, and that’s a good thing that could come out of this.”

Julie Gunnigle, the Democratic nominee for Maricopa County attorney, called Lake’s statement a “bald-faced lie.”

“There is zero evidence to support that,” Gunnigle said about Lake’s statement. “When I heard those comments, I was absolutely horrified, and I say that as someone who has not just prosecuted sexual assaults and domestic violence cases, but as someone who represents survivors in court trying to escape these situations.”

The Lake campaign did not respond to multiple requests to clarify how increased abortion restrictions would lead to more rapists being apprehended or convicted. Neither of the two abortion restriction laws currently on the books in Arizona — a near-total ban that originated in 1864 and or a 15-week ban signed into law in the spring — include exceptions for rape and incest, adding to the confusion over Lake’s statement.

“There are absolutely no proven connections between lack of access to abortion and imprisonment of rapists,” said Jenna Panas, CEO of the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence. “I am confused and incredulous.”

The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, which is led by Gunnigle’s Republican opponent, Rachel Mitchell, is responsible for prosecuting sexual assault offenders. It declined to comment. And Mitchell’s campaign did not respond to an interview request.

Lake said that she believes that the 15-week ban passed into law earlier this year had exceptions for rape and incest — it does not — because the mother would know she is pregnant by 15 weeks and could get an abortion before that time if she wanted one.

This statement ignores the reality for women and children who are forcibly impregnated by family members who might hold physical and financial power over them.

“We’re literally talking about family members who have power and control over a person,” Gunnigle said. “Oftentimes, it takes years, if not decades, for someone to feel comfortable enough to report when they have been victimized by a member of their own family.”

In those instances, reporting rape or incest to gain access to an abortion could put the victim in danger, Gunnigle said.

In addition, while 69% of adults in the U.S. support abortion access for women impregnated through rape or incest, only about 1% of people who seek abortions say that they did so because they had been raped, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

In Arizona, an estimated 40 women in 2020 (the most recent year for which data has been published) reported receiving abortions because they were the victims of sexual assault, according to state abortion data.

Gunnigle added that, if there was an abortion restriction law on the books in Arizona that included exceptions for rape and incest, she would want to know what sort of burden of proof would be placed on the victim before they would be allowed an abortion, especially since sexual assault cases typically take longer than nine months to resolve.

Nationwide, only about 310 out of every 1,000 rapes are ever reported, according to RAINN, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.

Even if increased abortion restrictions did somehow lead to more reports of sexual assault, the sobering truth is that most perpetrators don’t end up imprisoned for their crimes.

Only about 50 out of every 1,000 rapes result in an arrest, and only 28 of those 50 end with a felony conviction, according to RAINN.

And that low conviction rate is just one of the reasons that people don’t report sexual assaults, Gunnigle said.

“Lake’s statement is ridiculous, offensive and actively harmful to survivors of sexual assault and anyone seeking abortion care,” said Darrell Hill, policy director for the ACLU of Arizona. “Our government should never force people to seek permission from the courts to receive necessary healthcare. If Lake wanted to support survivors, she should closely listen to their needs rather than make up baseless theories.”

During the interview Lake called rape and incest horrifying and said she wanted to help women who were victims of it, but did not commit to backing exceptions in any abortion restriction laws she might sign as governor.

“The real death sentence should go to the person who raped, not a baby,” she said.

In Arizona, the death penalty is not an option for someone convicted of sexual assault. Penalties for sexual assault, which includes rape, range from around five years in prison to life imprisonment, if the sexual assault includes intentional inflictions of serious bodily injury.


Arizona Mirror is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Arizona Mirror maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Jim Small for questions: info@azmirror.com. Follow Arizona Mirror on Facebook and Twitter.

Kari Lake Q&A postponed, Katie Hobbs to get her own interview as AZ debate drama continues

A televised question and answer session with Republican Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake was postponed Wednesday, the same day it was set to air, after news broke that Arizona PBS had agreed to separately interview Lake’s Democratic opponent Secretary of State Katie Hobbs.

The Arizona Clean Elections Commission, which has worked for years with its partner PBS to put together and televise debates between candidates for public office, had previously refused the Hobbs campaign’s request for separate interviews of the two candidates, to replace a traditional debate. The commission announced that it was postponing the Lake interview after learning of PBS’s plans to interview Hobbs.

“We just learned hours before airtime of tonight’s Clean Elections Commission debate that PBS has unilaterally caved to Katie Hobbs’ demands and bailed her out from the consequences of her cowardly decision to avoid debating me on stage,” Lake said in a statement.

The commission had planned for the one-on-one interview with Lake after Hobbs ducked out of the debate. Putting together a televised question and answer session is the commission’s normal practice when only one candidate agrees to participate in a debate.

“This decision is disappointing, especially following the multiple attempts on behalf of all the partners involved in producing this year’s General Election debates, to organize a traditional Gubernatorial debate between the two candidates,” the commission said in a statement on Wednesday.

The commission also announced that it planned to reschedule the Lake interview at a different venue and with a different televising partner, adding that PBS’s decision to interview Hobbs separately broke from their history of shared practices.

“PBS’ actions are a slap in the face to the commissioners of the CEC and a betrayal of their efforts to put on an actual debate,” Lake said in the statement.

Hobbs’ campaign previously said she was not willing to share a debate stage with Lake because “you can’t debate a conspiracy theorist,” adding that Lake “only wants a spectacle.”

Lake is a Trump-endorsed 2020 Election denier who has hounded the Hobbs campaign, continually calling her a chicken, since Hobbs announced she wasn’t willing to debate.

After the Hobbs campaign asked the commission in September for separate interviews of the candidates, commission members voted 3-1 to deny her request, but gave her campaign a week to negotiate terms for a debate. The campaign failed to do so.

The Citizens Clean Elections Act, which created the Clean Elections Commission, was passed in 1998. It is administered by a bipartisan five-person board that guides the commission in its goals of educating voters, providing clean funding for candidate campaigns and enforcing campaign finance rules.

It has been coordinating televised debates for statewide and legislative races along with PBS for years.

“The Commission’s commitment and obligation under state law is to produce unbiased, fair opportunities for candidates to speak to voters,” the commission said in the statement. “We intend to make good on that commitment and our commitment to a transparent decision making process.”

Lake said that PBS’s decision to go behind the commission’s back to schedule an interview with Hobbs showed obvious bias.

“PBS, a supposedly-objective taxpayer-funded entity, is working overtime to help elect Katie Hobbs, who needs all the help she can get,” Lake said.

Around 14% of Arizona PBS funding comes from federal grants, the rest of its money coming from things like memberships and donations.

Neither the commission nor Arizona PBS immediately responded to requests for comment.

Arizona Mirror is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Arizona Mirror maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Jim Small for questions: info@azmirror.com. Follow Arizona Mirror on Facebook and Twitter.

Republican candidate gets blasted by his former classmates and teachers in scathing open letter

A group of Blake Masters’ former classmates at Green Fields Country Day School in Tucson have condemned him in no uncertain terms in an open letter saying that he would “lead Arizona down a dark, dystopian path.”

Masters, the Republican U.S. Senate nominee, won a crowded GOP primary election in August after being endorsed by former President Donald Trump. Masters has campaigned on the “Big Lie” that Trump actually won the 2020 election and has said he would support enacting strict anti-abortion laws nationwide if elected.

In the letter, Masters’ former classmates, teachers and fellow alumni describe him as someone who was ambitious and always ready to debate, but who was also kind. They say his public image now is barely recognizable compared to the student they used to know.

“He peddles extremist ideology — attacking veterans, calling abortion ‘demonic,’ being endorsed by Neo-Nazis, blaming gun violence on ‘Black people, frankly,’ and that’s just the tip of the iceberg,” Masters’ former classmates said in the letter. “He also belittles those who don’t share his views, and it’s clear Blake will lead Arizona down a dark, dystopian path. He is a man who gave up everything — his friends, his community, his values, and his integrity — all in pursuit of power, position, and prestige.”



The Green Fields alumni and teachers wrote that they are “deeply grieved” to see that Masters has become a “dangerous politician.”

The letter is signed by 75 of Masters’ former classmates, teachers and alumni of Green Fields Country Day. The small private school in Tucson operated for decades, but closed after it went bankrupt in 2019.

Masters’ campaign did not respond to multiple requests for comment on the letter.

At Green Fields, Masters was one of 24 students who graduated in 2004.

“He is beholden to a power-hungry billionaire and his radical ideology,” Masters’ classmates wrote. “He wants to outlaw abortion nationally, privatize Social Security, and rip away the fundamental rights of others — women, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ community.”

Masters is a venture capitalist whose run in the Republican primary was mostly funded by his former boss, billionaire tech magnate Peter Thiel, who put $15 million into a PAC supporting the Masters campaign.

So far, Thiel has not done the same for Masters ahead of the general election.

“Green Fields was known in Tucson for cultivating inquisitive, insightful, tolerant, and independent young minds, and it will always hold a special place in our hearts,” Masters’ classmates said.

At the end of the letter, his former classmates appealed directly to Masters: “To Blake: If you’re reading this, even though you have abandoned our values, we will not let you diminish our community. We will continue standing together, without you.”


Arizona Mirror is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Arizona Mirror maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Jim Small for questions: info@azmirror.com. Follow Arizona Mirror on Facebook and Twitter.

NOW WATCH: Watch: 'They're trying to destroy America' Herschel Walker rebukes democrats destruction

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Local Republicans rip 'absurd' RNC lawsuit against their election management

The Republican National Committee is suing Maricopa County over election transparency and election worker hiring practices, in what the county’s Republican recorder called “a political stunt.”

The RNC filed two lawsuits this week after the county didn’t respond to a letter the committee sent last month demanding explanations for why more Democratic than Republican poll workers were hired for the August election. The RNC claims that the county did not respond to all of the questions laid out in the letter.

“The idea that a Republican Recorder and four Republican board members would try to keep Republicans out of elections is absurd,” Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer and County Board Chairman Bill Gates said in a joint statement in response to the suits.

Only one of the five-person Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, Steve Gallardo, is a member of the Democratic Party.

“This is a lie,” Supervisor Thomas Galvin tweeted in response to the suits. “Ronna Romney McDaniel (chairwoman of the RNC) is wasting GOP donor money &, more importantly, @MaricopaCounty resources & tax dollars on a PR stunt thats using AZ’s court system as a political playground. I love Arizona & swore an oath to serve it justly. I’m sick of grifters attacking AZ.”

The county is required to hire an equal number of election board and poll workers from both parties, and said that it attempted to do so, but ended up with 857 Democrats working the primary election on Aug. 2 and only 712 Republicans.

“After several weeks of negotiations, Maricopa County left us no choice but to sue because Arizonans who want to be poll workers shouldn’t be shut out of the process,” RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and Arizona Republican Party Chairwoman Kelli Ward said in a joint statement. “With midterms just 34 days away, Arizonans deserve basic transparency about how their elections will be conducted. This legal offensive is the latest step in Republicans’ ongoing efforts to promote free, fair, and transparent elections in Arizona.”

The Maricopa County Elections Department previously told the Arizona Mirror that it follows state law and aims “for equal representation from the two major political parties as we fill temporary election worker positions,” sometimes even going above and beyond statutory requirements.

The county blamed the discrepancy in partisan poll workers in part on the large turnover rate in workers running up to the election and the need to replace them.

A week before Election Day, the department had to fill 220 poll worker positions. County officials estimated that more than 500 temporary election workers quit at some point leading up to the election, and then their positions had to be filled.

The RNC claims that the county doesn’t have a good process for backfilling those positions when workers quit, and blamed the high attrition rate on unreasonable work requirements.

In one of the suits, the RNC asks the court to compel Maricopa County to supply it with documentation of the county’s efforts to hire Republican poll workers and central election board workers, as well as proof of its efforts to find Republican replacements for workers who didn’t show up on Election Day.

In its other suit, the RNC claims that the requirements for temporary elections and poll workers in Maricopa County prohibit many Republicans from being election workers.

“The Defendants’ hours requirements foreseeably exclude virtually all persons who wish to participate but cannot abandon all other personal and professional obligations in October and November,” the RNC says in the suit.

Requirements that the RNC says deters Republican workers include some 14-hour days and obligatory weekend shifts.

The Republican Party designated qualified electors to serve on the county’s election boards in the August primary, but the RNC claimed that many of the people it designated could not handle the requirements of the job.

“The Defendants cannot establish onerous hours requirements, or create unduly inhospitable working conditions, that deter Republican workers from participating in the administration of Arizona Elections – and then claim compliance with the Equal Access Statutes (requirement for the same number of Republican and Democratic workers) was impossible,” the RNC said in the suit.

The RNC did not respond to a question from the Mirror asking why longer hours and multiple-day commitments would discourage more potential Republican poll workers than Democratic ones.

In response to the RNC’s suit, All Voting is Local, a nonprofit that advocates for fair and accessible elections, said in a statement that election and poll worker laws were created “to protect voters from anti-democracy conspiracy theorists who want to disrupt the free and fair election process.”

The group also thanked the election officials who protect the right to safe voting.

“Maricopa County election officials are duty bound to follow the laws, guidelines and predetermined process to select poll workers,” Alex Gulotta, Arizona director of All Voting is Local, said in the statement. “We have confidence that election officials are abiding by and adhering to the laws and standards outlined in the poll worker guidelines released by All Voting Is Local and the Brennan Center for Justice last week.

This is just the most recent in a laundry list of criticisms that Republicans have hurled at the Maricopa County Elections Department over the past two years, including through their multimillion dollar partisan “audit” of the 2020 presidential election by the now-defunct firm Cyber Ninjas.

Arizona Mirror is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Arizona Mirror maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Jim Small for questions: info@azmirror.com. Follow Arizona Mirror on Facebook and Twitter.

Far-right group launches effort to get jobs for insurrectionists

A right-wing organization that calls the perpetrators of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol “political prisoners” is trying to find jobs for the insurrectionists.

“Many of these folks, for ultimately being charged with misdemeanor trespass, have had their savings wiped out, lost their jobs, lost their homes, lost their businesses,” Matt Braynard, executive director of Look Ahead, told the Arizona Mirror.

Braynard said he’d spoken with countless people who had lost their jobs because they attended the rally or following riot on Jan. 6, and added that many of the insurrectionists who took plea deals will soon be released from prison and will need jobs.

So far, around 870 people have been arrested in association with their actions on Jan. 6, when thousands of Trump supporters descended on the Capitol, overran police in violent confrontations, smashed doors and windows to enter the building and stormed the House and Senate as they were certifying the 2020 election.

Some 380 people have pleaded guilty — 80 of them to felonies and 300 to misdemeanors, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Another 13 people have been found guilty through jury trials.

Ten of the people charged were from Arizona or had Arizona associations, and five of those pleaded guilty.

“I think that everybody that’s been convicted and serves their time deserves a chance,” Braynard said, but added that he believes political protesters on the left have a better support system.

The group’s Jobs for #J6 platform has already gotten interest from a few dozen businesses, Braynard said, but he wouldn’t share the names of the businesses or their locations because he said journalists would “try to put those employers on the spot and destroy them.”

Braynard claimed that the media treats employers as heroes if they hire a murderer after his release from prison, but would vilify those who employ Jan. 6 rioters. He falsely said that the campaign of U.S. Senate candidate in Pennsylvania John Fetterman employed two murderers and was lauded for it. Fetterman’s campaign employs Dennis Horton and Lee Horton, who were convicted for a 1993 murder despite evidence that they were not involved; they served 30 years in prison before their sentences were commuted last year by Gov. Tom Wolf.

Below are details about those from Arizona, or with local associations, who were charged for their reported participation in the insurrection.

Edward Vallejo

Edward Vallejo is charged with seditious conspiracy for his actions on Jan. 6, along with several other felonies, including obstructing an official proceeding. He’s charged alongside a group of 10 other members of the Oath Keepers with attempting to use force to stop the transfer of the presidency from Donald Trump to Joe Biden, according to court documents. The Oath Keepers are a far-right extremist group,

Vallejo is accused of coordinating teams of Oath Keepers who waited outside of the capital on the day of the insurrection, on stand-by to deliver guns and ammunition to rioters on the Capitol grounds.

He was released from jail and put on house arrest with electronic monitoring in May.

His trial is set for Nov. 29.

Felicia and Cory Konold

Felicia and Cory Konold, siblings from the Tucson area, are charged with several felonies for their purported actions on Jan. 6. Both have pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The Konolds are charged with conspiracy, obstruction of an official proceeding and carrying a deadly or dangerous weapon, in addition to other charges, alongside three men from Kansas and one from Missouri who are members of the Proud Boys. The Proud Boys are a far-right extremist group.

The group is accused of making their plans for Jan. 6 on the right wing social media site Parler and of intending to forcibly enter the Capitol building to stop the certification of the 2020 presidential election.

They reportedly brought paramilitary gear, including tactical vests, helmets, eye protection and radio equipment with them to the Capitol on the day of the insurrection.

Both Konolds have been released without bond and their next court date is set for Nov. 1.

Jacob Zerkle

Jacob Zerkle was arrested in Tucson in March and faces numerous charges, including assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers and acts of physical violence on the Capitol grounds or in the building.

Zerkle is accused of getting into physical fights with police officers while he was part of the mob on the Capitol grounds on Jan. 6, including throwing punches at an officer, according to court documents.

He pleaded not guilty to all charges in April and was released without bond. A trial is set for June 2023.

Joshua Knowles

Joshua Knowles, of Gilbert, was arrested in August and charged with multiple felonies and misdemeanors in association with the Jan. 6 riot, including entering and remaining on restricted building or grounds and demonstrating in a Capitol building. He pleaded not guilty to all charges on Sept. 29.

Knowles is accused of entering the Capitol building on Jan. 6 as part of the mob and later that day of violating a curfew imposed in Washington, D.C., staying on the Capitol grounds even though officers told him to leave, according to court documents.

He was released without bond Sept. 8.

James McGrew

James McGrew, who was arrested in Glendale, pleaded guilty in May to one count of assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers, as part of a plea agreement.

McGrew is accused of being among the first rioters who crashed through police lines, climbed the Capitol building terrace and entered the building through the terrace doors. He’s also accused of pushing and struggling with police officers inside the Capitol, including grabbing an officer’s baton after the officer hit him with it, as well as throwing a pole at them, according to court documents.

McGrew was on parole for a past crime when he participated in the riot, according to court records. He was convicted of shoplifting in 2011 and 2013 and vehicle theft in 2016.

He’s set to be sentenced Oct. 14, and could face up to 8 years in prison.

McGrew has been in jail since his arrest in June 2021.

Jacob Chansley

“QAnon Shaman” Jacob Chansley is arguably the most famous participant in the Jan. 6 insurrection, with photos of him in his signature furry horned viking hat, with paint covering his shirtless body published over and over again around the world.

Chansley pleaded guilty in September 2021 to one count of obstructing an official proceeding, a felony, as part of a plea agreement. In November he was sentenced to 41 months in prison and three years of probation. He is currently incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution in Safford and is set to be released in December 2023.

During court proceedings, the prosecution accused Chansley of serving as the face of the insurrection, as he walked through the Capitol carrying an American flag and a bullhorn and shouting obscenities and threats of violence, according to witnesses.

Nathan Entrekin

Nathan Entrekin, of Cottonwood, pleaded guilty in January to parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building, a misdemeanor, and was sentenced in May to 45 days in jail, three years of probation, 60 hours of community service and $500 in restitution.

Jan. 6 investigators said they recognized Entrekin in footage from inside the Capitol building because of his unique outfit. In photos and video from that day, he appears to be dressed in a Roman gladiator costume, complete with sandals. He was also accused of carrying a wooden dowel with a piece of white cloth attached that read, “In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives and our children.”

Entrekin tweeted July 31 that he’d been released from prison.

“To those still in captivity for the wrongs of government – peace be unto you,” he tweeted that day.

Andrew Hatley

Andrew Hatley pleaded guilty in September 2021 to one count of parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building, as part of a plea agreement. He was sentenced last December to three years of probation and ordered to pay $500 in restitution.

Hatley claimed via social media that he was not part of the Capitol insurrection, saying that he didn’t back “lost causes.” But the FBI said data from his cell phone proved that he was at the Capitol on Jan. 6, according to court documents.

Hatley was arrested in Eloy, but according to court documents, he drove to the Capitol from South Carolina on the day of the riot.

Micajah Jackson

Micajah Jackson, of Phoenix, pleaded guilty in November through a plea agreement to one count of parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building.

He was sentenced in March to three years of probation, including 90 days in a residential re-entry center and was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine and $500 restitution.

The judge in his case said she sentenced him to the 90 days in a residential center because he at times seemed to express remorse for his actions on Jan. 6, but other times made obviously untrue assertions about the day, including that Antifa, a loosely organized group of anti-fascists, was responsible for the violence that day and that police officers were beating women, children and the elderly.

“January 6th was a dark day,” Jackson said during an interview, according to court documents. “I call it the D.C. massacre. There was nothing glorious about that day. Citizens were attacked by the government. People got agitated. People fought back.”

Jackson was accused of marching with members of the Proud Boys on the day of the riot, but he has denied being a part of the group.

Arizona Mirror is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Arizona Mirror maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Jim Small for questions: info@azmirror.com. Follow Arizona Mirror on Facebook and Twitter.

Arizona students walkout in protest of new anti-LGBTQ laws

Hundreds of Arizona high school students walked out of their schools into the glaring afternoon sun on Thursday to protest the record number of anti-LGBTQ bills passed by the GOP-controlled state Legislature this year.

“Dear (Gov. Doug) Ducey and Arizona representatives, these bills are killing us,” walkout organizer Dawn Shim told a crowd of students at Hamilton High School in Chandler. “They are killing our peers. We do not need anymore students hurt by your actions. We aren’t out here missing our school day and interrupting our education because we want to. We have been forced into it.”

Shim, a 16-year-old junior at Hamilton, founded the organization that mobilized students across the half a dozen schools less than six months ago, after reading about legislation targeting transgender minors in the state that lawmakers were considering.

That group, Chandler-based Support Equality Arizona Schools, is made up of 10 core students, but has supporters in Gilbert, Tucson and Flagstaff. Its mission is to advocate for equity, with a focus on minority and LGBTQ+ students. The initiative fills a gap for high schoolers who can’t make their voices heard at the ballot box yet.

“Across America, more and more anti-LGBTQ legislation is being passed by the people sworn in to protect us,” Shim said. “We also have a burgeoning mental health crisis among young teens. These two factors are not coincidental. The Trevor Project finds that, in 2022, almost 45% of LGBTQ youth considered suicide in the last year.”

Support Equality Arizona Schools has met with legislators, attended city council meetings and reached out to school board members — all with the goal of securing a promise that anti-LGBTQ legislation won’t be enacted at schools.

All of the laws signed into law earlier this year went into effect Saturday. Several of them are set to have far-reaching consequences for LGBTQ and trans youth across the state. One bars trans students from joining girls sports teams and another prohibits trans minors from obtaining gender-affirming surgery.

Other laws target schools, including one that forces schools to hand over all student records to parents, even if they contain sensitive personal information, and another that bans sexually explicit materials, which is already leading to the removal of LGBTQ books. At Glendale Union High School District, schools have been instructed to remove books that may conflict with the new law, among them titles such as Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe and The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison.

Kanix Gallow, 14, is one of the core group of 10 that form the Support Equality Arizona Schools initiative. He hopes the walkouts will make clear to both legislators and school officials that Arizona students don’t support anti-LGBTQ measures.

Gallow is concerned about the effect the laws will have on students’ mental health, and pointed out that suicide rates are already high enough among LGBTQ youth without adding hurtful rhetoric on top of that.

“We just want our students safe and accepted in our schools. We don’t want to lose anyone else,” he said.

At Chandler High School, around 200 students made the trek two blocks down to Dr. A.J. Chandler Park, where they gathered in the small grassy area to listen to speakers and wave handmade posters at passing cars. Across town at Hamilton High School, a group of students gathered in the shade of a tree outside of Hamilton Library, which adjoins the school, to share their anger, passion and fears about the new laws and the general treatment of LGBTQ students.

“It is embarrassing that we live in a state and a country where people are at risk simply for being who they are and loving who they want,” said Blues Patrick, a senior at Hamilton High school.

Khye Jackson, a junior at Hamilton, said he was there to support his LGBTQ classmates.

“Love is love,” Jackson said. “All these people out here are family to me. We all go to the same school.”

Jackson, who is Black, said that it makes him feel distressed to hear about LGBTQ classmates facing discrimination, because Black people face discrimination, as well.

Ace Yates, a 14-year-old who joined the march at Chandler High, spoke hesitatingly into a portable speaker, sharing how difficult being trans was at home. His mother claims to be accepting, but refuses to use the correct pronouns. Listeners in the crowd booed.

Fortunately, Yates said, his mother isn’t hostile to his gender identity — just negligent. It’s frustrating, but other trans kids deal with dangerous home lives: parents that could quickly turn abusive if they’re outed, as is now a possibility with a new law passed earlier this year that forces schools to turn over confidential student records to parents upon request.

“School should be a safe place. Teachers are often the only people students with homophobic parents can talk to, and this law shatters that,” Yates said.

Jay Nash, who is also trans, has firsthand experience with keeping sensitive information away from unwelcoming relatives. He has to hide his identity from several family members.

“I have to stay hidden half of the time. It sucks,” he said.

On top of facing scrutiny at home, Nash has to deal with hurtful rhetoric from GOP state legislators. It’s disheartening to hear elected officials dissect his identity and pass restrictive laws, he said.

“I like having rights,” he said with a chagrined laugh.

Yana Artuz, 14, waved a miniature bisexual pride flag back and forth. She said she heard about anti-LGBTQ legislation and felt compelled to join the march, despite not being directly affected by the laws being passed. The work to bring awareness to injustices, she said, is the responsibility of everyone, regardless of sexuality.

“If nobody comes out and talks, nothings going to happen,” she said.

At Hamilton High, the importance of organizing as a community was equally highlighted.

“I don’t want to stand up here and offer platitudes,” said Leela Raj-Sankar, a junior at Hamilton. “Of course, all of you know that you should be yourself. All of you know that you should accept yourself for who you are, you should be accepted. And we shouldn’t be up here fighting because we deserve to be children.”

Raj-Sankar added that the fight for equality sometimes feels hopeless.

“Yeah, I’m angry,” she said. “I am really angry — all the time. But I want to be able to do something with that anger. I don’t want to just stand up here and say there will be change without being the one to put my feet on the ground and do something about it.”

Arizona Mirror is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Arizona Mirror maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Jim Small for questions: info@azmirror.com. Follow Arizona Mirror on Facebook and Twitter.

Mark Finchem’s fealty to Trump's ‘Big Lie’ was center stage in Arizona debate with Adrian Fontes

Mark Finchem, the Republican candidate for secretary of state who has built his campaign on baseless claims the 2020 election was marred by fraud, continually dodged questions and spouted conspiracy theories in a televised debate Thursday night.

His Democratic opponent, Adrian Fontes, said voters will have to make the choice between “laws and lies.”

Fontes, a former Maricopa County recorder who lost his re-election bid in 2020, framed November’s election as a referendum on democracy.

“Democracy is a decision, and as you’ve seen tonight, that decision could be no more clear,” Fontes said. “You can decide between community building and stability or conspiracy theories and cantankerousness.”

Finchem, a state legislator from Oro Valley, is one of the nation’s most vocal proponents of the "Big Lie” that former President Donald Trump really won the 2020 election. His devotion to false conspiracy theories about the 2020 election has earned him a national profile, along with Trump’s endorsement.

Finchem refused to say during Thursday’s debate whether he would have certified Arizona’s general election results if he were secretary of state in 2020. In a story published this week in Time magazine, Finchem said it is “a fantasy” to believe that the 2020 election was fair.

Finchem called the 2020 election results in two counties — Maricopa and Yuma — irredeemable, but gave no evidence as to why he believed the results in Maricopa County were invalid. State Senate Republicans hired unqualified conspiracy theorists to conduct a partisan review of the Maricopa County 2020 election results; their review found no evidence of fraud.

During the debate, Finchem referenced the movie “2,000 Mules” as evidence of fraud in Yuma County and said that three people have pleaded guilty to election fraud in the county.

An analysis of the film’s claims by the Associated Press found numerous problems with the data analysis. For instance, there is no accounting for people with multiple mobile devices that could create pings in the geolocation data or people who are elections or campaign workers who would drive by areas where drop boxes are located on a regular basis. Other fact-checkers have also done independent analysis of the claims and found them to be fundamentally flawed.

Finchem repeatedly asked during the debate why so-called fraud had not been addressed.

Fontes answered that, if there actually was widespread fraud in Arizona during the 2020 election, there were several ways to address it — but all of the county governing boards, the secretary of state and the governor certified the election.

Finchem never answered a question from moderator and veteran journalist Ted Simons about what he thought was going to happen on Jan. 6, 2021, as he stood in a crowd near the Capitol and watched a mob of Trump supporters storm the building. Finchem claimed he never got within 1,500 feet of the Capitol, but he posted a photo he took from near the Capitol steps onto social media and was captured on video amidst the rioters.

Finchem said he was not at the Capitol for the Trump rally, but to deliver a book of evidence of purported voter fraud in the 2020 election to Republicans at the Capitol.

“Being at a place when something happened is not a crime,” Finchem said, adding that he had been interviewed by the congressional committee investigating Jan. 6 as a witness to the storming of the Capitol, not a participant.

While Finchem criticized Fontes for how he handled the 2020 election in Maricopa County — particularly his illegal decision to mail ballots to all registered voters because of the COVID-19 pandemic — Fontes countered that Finchem wants to get rid of voting by mail entirely.

Finchem, who backed legislation doing exactly that, dodged the question.

“What I want doesn’t matter,” Finchem said, adding that the secretary of state doesn’t make policy decisions.

Finchem later said that he didn’t care for voting by mail, but does support absentee voting, indicating that voters should have to ask for a mailed ballot instead of just being sent one automatically.

During their back-and-forth about voting by mail, the two candidates interrupted and spoke over one another.

When asked if he thought the 2022 midterm election in Arizona was fair, Finchem said he didn’t know. In answer to a question from Simons, Finchem said the difference between the 2020 general election in Arizona and the 2022 primary was the candidates.

Fontes countered that it was telling that Finchem didn’t say the processes or the people running the election were different, only the candidates.

Fontes accused his opponent of playing politics instead of respecting the will of the voters, while Finchem accused Fontes of making up election law, repeatedly referencing an opinion piece by Laurie Roberts of the Arizona Republic. In the column, she accused Fontes of making up election law in March 2020, when he decided to mail ballots to all registered Democrats who had not yet voted in the presidential primary, amid the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. A court ultimately blocked him from doing so.

Arizona Mirror is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Arizona Mirror maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Jim Small for questions: info@azmirror.com. Follow Arizona Mirror on Facebook and Twitter.

Republicans angry over ratio of Republican to Democrat poll workers in Maricopa County primary

Republicans are once again criticizing elections officials in Maricopa County after learning that more Democrats than Republicans worked the polls in the August primary election.

The Republican National Committee on Sept. 9 sent a letter to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, slamming the county for hiring 857 Democrats to work the polls on Aug. 2 but only 712 Republicans.

In the letter, the RNC also expressed concerns that there was “potential for this inequity to be repeated in the forthcoming general election.”

This is just the most recent in a laundry list of criticisms that Republicans have hurled at the Maricopa County Elections Department over the past two years, including through their multimillion dollar partisan “audit” of the 2020 presidential election by the now-defunct firm Cyber Ninjas.

The Maricopa County Elections Department told the Arizona Mirror that it follows state law and aims “for equal representation from the two major political parties as we fill temporary election worker positions,” sometimes even going above and beyond statutory requirements.

“There are many times when we have election workers quit in the days right before Election Day, and including on Election Day,” said Maricopa County Elections Department spokeswoman Megan Gilbertson. “Our recruiters do their best to backfill these positions with someone from the same party, but there are some instances when it is not possible.”

When filling a position with someone of the same party isn’t possible, the Elections Department says it follows the Arizona Election Procedures Manual, which requires ensuring a diversity of party affiliations on elections boards.

“We achieved that in August and will always prioritize bipartisan oversight,” Gilbertson said.

Ahead of the August primary, the department initially planned to hire 2,148 poll workers to staff voting centers and 438 workers to staff temporary positions in the elections department, but it ended up with only 1,964 poll workers and 356 election workers.

Of those who handled ballots for the Elections Department, 78 Republicans and 82 Democrats were hired, along with 29 who did not declare a party affiliation.

The RNC also pointed out that there were 11 voting centers in the county that had no Republican poll workers. There were two centers that didn’t have any Democrat workers.

The RNC asked the county for an explanation for the centers lacking Republican representation and the smaller number of Republicans working that day in general. The RNC said that Mickie Niland, the chairwoman of the Maricopa County Republican Committee, provided the elections department with hundreds of names and contact information for Republican poll workers in May.

“Please provide the RNC with the written documentation that demonstrates the County’s efforts to hire Republican poll workers at the 11 voting locations in question,” the RNC said in its letter. “If any Republican poll workers failed to show up on election day, or otherwise decommitted from these locations prior to election day, please provide documentation showing any efforts to find replacement workers for these locations.”

The RNC also complained of “a significant disparity” between the number of Republicans and Democrats working the processing boards at the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center during the primary.

Those working the processing board included 88 Republicans and 148 Democrats, when the numbers are supposed to be equal.

A week before Election Day, the department had to fill 220 poll worker positions. County officials estimated that more than 500 temporary election workers quit at some point leading up to the election, and then their positions had to be filled.

“It is not unusual to have a significant amount of turnover, but since 2020, it has been higher than normal,” Gilbertson said.

The RNC also criticized the commitments that some of the central elections board positions required, including multiple days or multiple weeks of work, long hours and late nights.

“The County has artificially limited its pool of board workers (especially Republican board workers) by refusing to allow more manageable shifts,” the RNC said in the letter.

The RNC provided a copy of the letter to the Mirror but did not respond to a question asking why longer hours and multiple-day commitments would discourage more potential Republican poll workers than Democrats.

“While it is critically important to understand how these disparities resulted in the primary election, it is equally (if not more) important to ensure that poll worker and central board staffing for the general election comply with the letter of the law and be beyond reproach,” the RNC wrote.

Last month, Niland supplied the elections department with the names of 500 potential GOP poll workers and requested confirmation from the department that it would contact every single one of them.

“Staffing elections requires a continuous effort of recruiting, hiring, training, and then backfilling positions of those that quit,” Gilbertson said. “Partnerships with the Maricopa County political parties play a critical role in helping ensure this bipartisan staffing. We reach out to every potential election worker the parties provide. Unfortunately, not all are willing or able to serve.”

The RNC asked for a response to its letter by Friday, and said if the department did not respond and adequately explain the issues detailed in the letter, it was “prepared to pursue all available legal remedies.”

Neither the RNC nor the Elections Department answered a question from the Mirror, asking if the department had officially responded to the letter.

“We appreciate the partnership with Maricopa County political parties and we will continue to work to ensure parity in our positions – Republican, Democrat, Libertarian and those without a party preference,” Gilbertson said. “Voters interested in applying to support elections can visit GetInvolved.Maricopa.Vote.”


Arizona Mirror is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Arizona Mirror maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Jim Small for questions: info@azmirror.com. Follow Arizona Mirror on Facebook and Twitter.