New Arizona AG To Flip Predecessor’s Sham Election Fraud Unit Into Voting Rights Task Force

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - OCTOBER 08: Kris Mayes, Democratic candidate for Arizona Attorney General, speaks at a Women's March rally in support of midterm election candidates who support abortion rights outside the State Ca... PHOENIX, ARIZONA - OCTOBER 08: Kris Mayes, Democratic candidate for Arizona Attorney General, speaks at a Women's March rally in support of midterm election candidates who support abortion rights outside the State Capitol on October 8, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona. Mayes faces Trump-endorsed Arizona Republican nominee for attorney general Abe Hamadeh in the midterm elections on November 8. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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Arizona attorney general Kris Mayes plans to overhaul a unit created by her predecessor to investigate unsubstantiated claims of election fraud into a task force focused on reinforcing voting rights instead.

The newly elected Democrat hopes the unit will “reprioritize the mission and resources” it has into “protecting voting access and combating voter suppression,” she told the Guardian on Saturday.

The unit was launched in 2019 by the state’s former attorney general Mark Brnovich, a Republican, after the Arizona GOP suffered midterm losses to Democrats in 2018 and complained to his office about supposed voter fraud.

Then-Governor Doug Ducey approved a budget of $530,000 for a full-time criminal prosecutor, civil attorney, special agent and administrative assistant for the unit to investigate the allegations. Ryan Anderson, then a spokesperson for Brnovich, tried to claim at the time that the point of the unit was to debunk the allegations, even though the funding and creation of the task force did little other than give the election deniers political ammo. 

“The notion that there is fraud, pervasive fraud, in our elections is damaging to the collective confidence of the public in our elections and in our public institutions,” he told the Arizona Mirror in 2019. “So, what we have said, if there is in fact fraud, don’t you want to know?”

Well, now we know: Despite receiving thousands of complaints since the unit’s inception, it ultimately only racked up 20 prosecutions—none of which changed the outcome of an election but did manage to punish a woman for turning in her dead mother’s ballot as her last wish.

“Under my predecessor’s administration, the election integrity unit searched widely for voter fraud and found scant evidence of it occurring in Arizona,” new AG Mayes said in a statement. “That’s because instances of voter fraud are exceedingly rare.”

Brnovich hired conservative attorney-activist Jennifer Wright to oversee the department. Wright is a Big Lie supporter and fervent tweeter who’s been associated with the far-right nonprofit True the Vote — the group behind Dinesh D’Souza’s “2000 Mules” that first floated some of the conspiracy theories about the 2020 election detailed in the film.

Wright resigned from office when Mayes took over, telling reporters that “it was clear by Mayes public statements that our visions for the Elections Integrity Unit would not align.” Her departure led to a bizarre back-and-forth in the pages of the Arizona Republic where Mayes’ staffers allegedly told the paper that she was given the choice to resign or be fired; she denied that was the case.

She’s since waged war against Mayes by joining losing Republican AG candidate Abe Hamadeh in a legal challenge to Mayes’ victory with the debunked claim that there were hundreds of uncounted ballots in the state’s midterm race.

“I look forward to getting Kris Mayes out of the office she should have never occupied in the first place,” she said in a Jan. 17 statement.

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  1. Frist. (Imagine Schrödinger’s cat here)

    Arizona is the state I am eyeing most to see if sanity will prevail, or if this past election will be washed away by the cult in the coming elections.

    Ohio is getting interesting too. Note: Interesting can co-exist with frightening. Nothing happening in our nation now is reassuring.

  2. So Ms Wright/Wrong how many candidates won by 20 votes?

    ETA: I still can’t wrap my head around throwing out someone’s vote if they die before election day. Does the state check that everyone who cast a vote in person on election day is still alive before the results are announced?

  3. You can’t vote if you’re dead. However, your vote can count if you’re dead, depending on how you voted.

    If you voted early in person, as many states allow, then die, your vote will count because it’s already in the machine, and because ballots are secret, they can’t pull yours out because they don’t know which one it is.

    If you voted by mail, it depends. Most states preprocess ballots received in the mail. That is, they open the envelope when it arrives and check it in and then enter it into the machine. If that has happened, and then you die, once again your vote will count.

    But if it’s found that you’ve died before your ballot goes into the machine, then, yes, your ballot (still in its envelope) can be pulled.

    States keep track of who has died, to be able to remove the dead from the registration list. So there is some small chance that if you vote by mail then die before the election, your vote won’t get counted. I doubt that it happens very often.

    Moral of the story: vote on the first possible day of in-person early voting.

  4. These people–Wright, Hamadeh, and Kari Lake, among others–are liars. Pure human waste product intent on undermining democracy unless they win. I wish them, their families, and their low life racist filth supporters, horrible painful lives, including time in prison for their fraudulence and lies.

  5. I seem to remember a story out MI where an elderly man went and voted early in person during the 2020 election. He died before election day, and in MI they threw his vote out.
    It just seems with so many states having early voting, in person or by mail that if they die before election day, or before the election can be called then their vote should count.
    All of this because we don’t have a nationalized voting system.

    This is not an endorsement if the woman requested a mail in ballot for her deceased mother. Totally a different thing IMO.

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