Arizona's Electoral Fiasco: A View From Maricopa County

I’m old enough to remember when questioning authority was an American pastime. But as an independent voter in Maricopa County, and a Kari Lake supporter, I’m perplexed by the notion that doubting the official line is not only a nuisance to the powers that be — but has, somehow, become a perceived threat to Democracy.

And it’s not just locals like me. People from around the world are transfixed by the recent Arizona elections, partly because they suspected a repeat of the disaster two years earlier.

We had two strongly contrasting candidates for Governor: Kari Lake—an out-of-the-box patriot, who didn’t believe the 2020 outcome was valid – and Katie Hobbs – who frequently used her baby voice to insist that Arizona is known for the most secure elections in the Nation.

So, for crying out loud, trust her. Because she said so.

To get an idea of what it was like living in Maricopa County during the fiasco, you’re gonna have to hang on tight. Here’s how it all went down: Bright and early on election morning, we learned that many ballot printers and tabulators were not working in Maricopa County – on the day when, conveniently, two-thirds of the in-person voters were expected to be Lake supporters.

I’m sure you can imagine the chaos. Many of my neighbors – who attempted to scan their ballots multiple times, only to watch them fail over and over again – were told to throw their votes into mysterious box number 3, where they were assured they’d be counted later. But due to a whole lot of 2020 PTSD, countless folks responded with a resounding “Hell, no!”

And it only got worse from there: When the machine failures caused lines to back up for close to 3 hours, exhausted citizens left in droves. Others -– who’d already signed in – were told they could go elsewhere to vote, only to discover they were denied that sacred right because they’d already logged in at a prior location.

The bottom line is: I watched election day unravel in Maricopa County from a front-row seat. And it was a nightmare.

So, obviously, we had questions. Serious questions. And the biggest one was: How could Maricopa County screw up an election this badly? Again.

In response, Secretary of State Hobbs, and Chairman Bill Gates (No, not that Bill Gates) insisted everything was fine. You know the drill: Don’t look behind that curtain. Just move along, people. There’s nothing to see here. We promise.

If you're thinking there should have been a way to mitigate the enormous disenfranchised voter fiasco, you’d be right. Except it didn’t work. Attorneys for the Republican party rushed before a judge to ask for a two-hour voting extension.

But they were denied. Because in Maricopa County, we may take a week to count our ballots, but we close our polls at exactly 7 PM – because, by God, we are punctual that way.

Ultimately after a long and grueling week of tabulations – which drove many of us to start day drinking – Hobbs landed an approximate 17,000 vote lead. With over 2.5 million votes cast statewide, the differential was essentially minuscule.

At this point, we asked more questions. Serious questions. We asked about the odds of that many machines going down at the exact same time – when mostly Republicans show up to cast their votes in person.

We asked how Hobbs — who was so behind in the polls that even leftist pundits were kissing her chances goodbye, who flat out refused to debate her opponent, who didn't campaign except to speak to a handful of supporters here or there, and literally hid in a bathroom to avoid a journalist’s questions – could have possibly pulled it out.

We asked if it was ethical for Katie Hobbs, as Secretary of State, to oversee her own election (And yes, I had the same question for Kemp when he did it in 2018).

We asked about the legality of Hobb’s staff threatening county supervisors that if they didn’t certify their tally, they’d be charged with a felony, arrested, and thrown in jail — causing one official to speak into the record that he was only certifying under duress.

But when whistleblowers claimed, under penalty of perjury, that approximately 300,000 ballots did not have the proper chain of custody, that signature verifications were barely conducted, and government emails showed the approximate 16,000 remaining ballot count did not match Maricopa County’s official data, we had more than questions.

And now? While some are hell-bent on crowning Hobbs the Queen of the Governor’s mansion, we aren’t giving up.

Kari’s team is seeking a solution from the courts – which will, ultimately, wind its way through the appeals process, And while a judge has granted Lake a trial based on the merits of her case, many of us are, now, asking the following questions: “Will the judicial system weigh the evidence fairly? Or will judges run from the fight, because the entire debacle is just too damn messy for polite society?”

So, go ahead: We can take it. Call us “election deniers.” Tell us to remove our tin-foil hats, sit down, and shut up – because we’re not moved by insults anymore.

After all: We aren’t just fighting for Arizona. The future of our nation is at risk. Freedom is in jeopardy. And the truth is on the line.

Regardless of the blowback, we will continue to seek justice and an absolute assurance that every legal vote is counted.

Is that really too much to ask? 

Candy Chand is a writer who lives, and votes, in Maricopa County, AZ. She’s been interviewed on Fox & Friends, PBS, and by the New York Times. Follow her on Twitter @CandyChand11


Image: Title: Kari Lake Maricopa
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