The landscape in Arizona
Arizona was one of the most closely contested states in the 2020 presidential election: President Biden won it by less than half a percentage point. Election Deniers have been a threat in Arizona ever since.
It’s one of seven states where groups of pro-Trump Republicans came together after the 2020 election as fake presidential electors. On Jan. 6, 2021, at least two Arizona state legislators were in Washington, and at least 11 people with Arizona ties have been charged for their roles in the attack on the Capitol. One of them, Jacob Chansley, the so-called QAnon Shaman, was sentenced to more than three years in prison. And four members of Congress from Arizona were among the 147 who voted to overturn 2020 election results.
In an early example of an insidious trend, Republican legislators ordered a sham review of Arizona’s 2020 election reviews by a firm called Cyber Ninjas. After six months and $5.6 million, the firm turned up no evidence of a stolen election.
In the 2022 midterms, Election Deniers were on the ballot for all three statewide offices that oversee Arizona elections. Voters rejected them all. Kari Lake, who lost the Governor’s race, still refuses to concede, proving that some Election Deniers won’t take no for an answer. She still lies about elections, and is now running for U.S. Senate. In the 2022 Senate race, meanwhile, Blake Masters promoted election conspiracy theories and claimed ahead of time that the election would be stolen. He later lost and conceded. After the 2022 election, officials in Cochise County refused to certify the results, citing evidence-free concerns about voting machine certification. A judge ultimately ordered the county to certify the valid results.
One big lesson from Arizona: Elections have consequences. One of the winners in 2022, Attorney General Kris Mayes, inherited a so-called Election Integrity Unit that had been focused on finding cases of voter fraud, which is practically nonexistent. She redirected the unit to defend the freedom to vote and protect election workers. And the Cochise County officials who refused to certify were reported to be under state investigation.
0 Election Deniers hold statewide Office right now.
Elections are run by the states. In Arizona, the Governor, Attorney General, and Secretary of State are the state officials responsible for overseeing elections. It’s up to them to make sure the will of the people is always respected.
Read more about The Roles of Our Elected Officials in Elections
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How Arizona compares
Every state runs its own elections, with its own laws and processes. Check out how Arizona compares with other states in its region when it comes to Election Deniers holding state election administration jobs.
Election Denial in Southwest States
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|Moreinformation about New Mexico|
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Sitting official is an Election Denier
- In Oklahoma, the Secretary of State is appointed by the state senate.
- In Texas, the Governor appoints the Secretary of State. Texas Governor Greg Abbott is an Election Denier and appointed Jane Nelson in January 2023.
Voter turnout over time
Voters are always the backstop against election denial, whether Election Deniers are already in office or vying for power. It’s important to turn out for every election in your state—and to vote in every race on your ballot. Downballot races, like contests for Attorney General and Secretary of State, have historically drawn fewer voters, even though the positions are critical to keeping elections free, fair, and secure. Here’s a look at voter participation in Arizona elections over time. Notice that in years with several important positions up for election, some voters choose not to vote in every race.
Data on the number of votes cast in each race are from state elections depositories, supplemented with data from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), House Election Statistics, and The Book of States. Rates are calculated using the Census’s Citizen Voting Age Population (CVAP) estimates. Rates will be updated when the Census releases new CVAP data for 2022.
Beyond the ballot box
Each year, state legislators introduce thousands of bills related to elections. And in the past few years, we’ve identified a concerning trend. Across the country, state legislatures are considering bills that would make it easier for partisan actors to manipulate an election, and maybe even overturn the will of the people. We’re tracking these bills along with our partners in an ongoing series of reports called “A Democracy Crisis in the Making.” In 2023 alone, through early May, we tracked 185 bills introduced in 38 state legislatures that would politicize, criminalize, or interfere with elections.
The anti-democracy playbook is simple: change the rules and change the referees, in order to change the results. These bills go hand-in-hand with the Election Denier movement: They’re about taking power away from voters and making it harder for trusted election officials to do their jobs.