Some real drama appears to be playing out between outgoing Attorney Gen. Mark Brnovich and Gov.-elect Katie Hobbs as she faces an expected election legal challenge from Republican Kari Lake.
Lake promised this week that she will be filing a lawsuit to challenge the results of the governor’s race, given the widespread problems that occurred on Election Day with at least 71 polling stations (about one-third of the total) in Maricopa County having ballot printer and tabulator machine issues leading to hours-long lines in multiple ruby red districts.
The Lake campaign has argued that since Republicans voted 3-to-1 over Democrats on Election Day, what happened was large-scale vote suppression of her supporters, whether intentionally or not.
Only about 17,000 votes, or 0.7 percent, separated Lake and Hobbs when all the ballots were counted statewide.
REMINDER — the two images represent polling sites where tabulators malfunctioned on ED.
Malfunctions occurred in 64 total highly-partisan locations, considered overwhelmingly “Heavy R or Heavy D” areas.
*59/64 (93.7%) were “Heavy R” areas.*
This is blatant criminal malfeasance pic.twitter.com/udj8Q4xuhc
— Jonathan (@DecentFiJC) November 25, 2022
At the state canvass ceremony on Monday, Hobbs characterized the election as “fair,” while taking shots at election deniers and arguably Brnovich, whose office has demanded answers from Maricopa County officials for the Election Day mayhem, suggesting illegalities have occurred.
“Arizona had a successful election, but too often throughout the process, powerful voices proliferated misinformation that threatened to disenfranchise voters,” Hobbs said.
“Democracy prevailed, but it’s not out of the woods. 2024 will bring a host of challenges from the election denial community that we must prepare for,” she added.
“But for now, Arizonans can stand proud knowing that this election was conducted with transparency, accuracy and fairness in accordance with Arizona’s election laws and procedures,” Hobbs concluded.
Brnovich is certainly not an election denier. He told CBS News’ “60 Minutes” last month that his office found no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election in Arizona.
The attorney general’s office has questioned whether all election laws were followed in Maricopa County in last month’s races, in light of the widespread Election Day ballot machine problems.
“The Elections Integrity Unit (‘Unit’) of the Arizona Attorney General’s Office (‘AGO’) has received hundreds of complaints since Election Day pertaining to issues related to the administration of the 2022 General Election in Maricopa County,” Arizona Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Wright — with the Elections Integrity Unit Wright — wrote in a Nov. 19 letter to county officials.
Do you think the election in Maricopa County was fair?
“These complaints go beyond pure speculation, but include first-hand witness accounts that raise concerns regarding Maricopa’s lawful compliance with Arizona election law,” she continued.
BREAKING: Arizona AG @brnoforaz sends a letter to Maricopa County.
“Arizonans deserve a full report and accounting of the myriad problems that occurred in relation to Maricopa County’s administration of the 2022 General Election.”#AZVoterSuppression pic.twitter.com/o2YfdNG1wN
— Olivia Brown🇺🇸 (@oliviaintheusa) November 20, 2022
Wright noted that the county admitted to co-mingling ballots that were successfully tabulated at polling sites with those that could not be read by the machines.
State law required all ballots to be reconciled at the polling locations with the number of voters who checked into the polling places, which allegedly did not happen in some instances.
Other potential illegalities centered on the issuance of provisional ballots when voters were already checked-in at other locations.
“Arizonans deserve a full report and accounting of the myriad problems that occurred in relation to Maricopa County’s administration of the 2022 General Election,” Wright wrote.
Brnovich responded to Hobbs’ comments at Monday’s canvass ceremony saying, “I should note: I didn’t know we were giving speeches today, but the governor and I pursuant to statute are merely witnesses to the certification.”
“We do not actually certify the election. I’m reminded of what John F. Kennedy said: ‘Those who ride the tiger to seek power often end up inside,’” the attorney general added.
Well said, @GeneralBrnovich.
— Kari Lake War Room (@KariLakeWarRoom) December 6, 2022
The phrase came from Kennedy’s 1961 inaugural address, in which he was warning leaders of newly emerging countries at that time not to use tyranny to consolidate power.
Brnovich may have referenced the heavy-handed tactics Hobbs’ secretary of state office employed against officials in Mohave and Cochise counties who had delayed certifying election results over concerns regarding the accuracy of election machines.
Arizona State Elections Director Kori Lorick wrote several letters and emails to members of the Mohave board of directors threatening criminal charges that could result in up to two years of jail time if they did not certify the election in time for the state certification.
At the end of Monday’s ceremony, Brnovich, unlike outgoing GOP Gov. Doug Ducey did not shake Hobbs’ hand, but quickly left the room.
Not long thereafter he issued a statement saying, “As we gather today to solidify the 2022 midterm election results, many Arizonans of all political persuasions continue to have doubts about our election processes.”
“As attorney general, I have made it one of my office’s highest priorities to defend our election laws and advocate for changes when necessary. I will continue to do so throughout the end of my term,” he added.
We’ll see what happens, but between Lake’s lawsuit and Brnovich’s plans to defend election laws, things could get very interesting in the Grand Canyon State.