Arizona’s Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich is desperately trying to make vote fraud “a thing” before he leaves office.
Brnovich, along with Republican Governor Doug Ducey, got crosswise with Donald Trump for failing to decertify the 2020 election results. There is an alternate universe in which Ducey, who is term limited out, beats Democratic Senator Mark Kelly this year, and Brnovich bests Katie Hobbs in the gubernatorial race. But with both of them kneecapped by the GOP’s de facto leader, Ducey never declared, and Brnovich was an also-ran in the senate primary won by that that weirdo Blake Masters.
Before he wanders off into the private sector, though, AG Brnovich is going to do one more solid for the party, which got all but wiped out this cycle. With losing gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake screaming bloody murder about a stolen election, Brnovich is adding fuel to the fire by wielding the power of his office to support the theory that something went wrong with the election in Maricopa County.
This weekend the Election Integrity Unit inside the AG’s Office fired off a letter to Thomas Liddy, civil division chief at the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, suggesting that workers likely broke the law in the state’s most populous jurisdiction and demanding that they account for themselves before certifying the election on November 28. The unit was created after the GOP’s losses in 2018, when Hobbs was elected secretary of state and Democrat Kyrsten Sinema beat sitting Republican Senator Martha McSally. It’s led by assistant attorney general Jennifer Wright, who has flogged election fraud conspiracy theories on social media and was once a Republican political candidate.
In Wright’s telling, the failure of some printers in Maricopa County to print ballots dark enough to be read by the on-site tabulators is not just an unfortunate annoyance, but a sign of something nefarious. No one was disenfranchised, but perhaps poll workers weren’t adequately trained to work around the problem, Wright hints darkly. She also singles out Bill Gates, chairman of the county Board of Supervisors, and county Recorder Stephen Richer, both of whom have received an avalanche of threats, with Gates’s family sleeping away from home for their own safety.
And Wright’s allies in the Arizona legislature are taking her allegations and running with them.
“After taking an absurd and unnecessary amount of time to count ballots, we are now finding out that Maricopa County election officials may not merely be incompetent but may also be criminals,” state Rep. Jake Hoffman, the chairman of the caucus and one of the signers of the fake electoral certificate submitted to Congress, told AZ Central. “These allegations could quite reasonably lead someone to believe that this incompetence, which has prevented us from knowing the outcomes of our elections for nearly two weeks, is simply a tool for corrupt politicians to rig elections in their favor.”
And that’s saying something coming from a guy whose company got kicked off social media for running a Russian-style troll farm!
Meanwhile, Maricopa County elections officials are dealing with flack from Brnovich’s office as they try to finish up the count, including the race to replace Brnovich, where the Democrat leads by just 510 votes as of this writing and the race appears headed for a recount.
“Board members received this letter on Saturday night and had a team working on a response all day Sunday, even as staff continued counting votes,” Gates told AZ Central. “We look forward to answering the AG’s questions with transparency as we have done throughout this election.”
It’s not 2020, but … it’s not over either.
AG’s Elections Integrity Unit asks Maricopa County to respond to ballot complaints [AZ Central]
As ballot counting wraps up, Maricopa County officials deal with state requests, outside threats [AZ Central]
Liz Dye lives in Baltimore where she writes about law and politics.