Eleven presidential electors in Arizona cast their votes on Monday morning for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. By Monday afternoon, as electors in other states did the same, Biden had won enough votes to clinch the presidency.
The vote, which was live streamed by the secretary of state’s office, took place during a ceremony held at the Phoenix Convention Center. The location wasn’t publicly disclosed until afterward for security reasons.
This casting of electoral votes was the last step in the process of administering Arizona’s election, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs said during Monday’s ceremony.
Hobbs said it was a historic election, with nearly 80% turnout. She added that there was a pall over the ceremony due to Republican-led claims of fraud and misconduct.
“This year’s proceeding has unfortunately had an artificial shadow cast over it, in the form of baseless accusations of misconduct and fraud, for which no proof has been provided, and which court after court has dismissed as unfounded,” she said. “This fabrication of misdeed leveled against everyone from poll workers to me and my office has led to threats of violence against me, my office and those in this room today.”
In Arizona, electors are chosen by the political party of the presidential candidate who won the majority of votes.
Arizona’s presidential electors for the 2020 elections were: Steve Gallardo, supervisor of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors; Luis Heredia, executive director of the Arizona Education Association; Constance Jackson, president of Pinal County NAACP; Sandra Kennedy, commissioner of the Arizona Corporation Commissioner; Stephen Roe Lewis, governor of the Gila River Indian Community; James McLaughlin, president of UFCW; Jonathan Nez, president of Navajo Nation; Ned Norris, chairman of the Tohono O’odham Nation; Regina Romero, mayor of Tucson; Felicia Rotellini, chair of the Arizona Democratic Party; and Fred Yamashita, executive director of the Arizona AFL-CIO.
On Twitter, Heredia reflected on the immigrant background of his parents and his participation in a historical moment for Arizona.
“My mom and dad woke up every morning at 4AM to begin their day and contribute to this great country as immigrants and new Americans,” Heredia wrote. “We do our part to make tomorrow better than today.”
On Monday afternoon, claiming the “election is inconclusive,” a group of Republican legislators issued a letter asking Congress to nullify Biden’s 11 electoral votes in or switch the votes over to President Donald Trump.
Hobbs: Location moved due to escalating threats
Hobbs said it was exciting to be a part of the process.
“I’ve never even watched the process. There were a few times in the middle of it I just got chills, and not just because as a Democrat I’m super excited about the outcome, but also in general (because) this is the way the process has worked for more than 200 years,” she told Arizona Mirror after the ceremony.
The ceremony was originally scheduled to take place at the Arizona Commerce Authority. Hobbs said officials chose the ACA because they needed more space for social distancing than most places at the Capitol would allow.
But security concerns led to discussion last week between the secretary of state’s office, Gov. Doug Ducey’s office and the Arizona Department of Public Safety, Hobbs said. The ACA’s exterior walls are largely glass, allowing people to see in from outside, and it’s close to Seventh Avenue, which presented a concern that someone could ram through the glass walls with a vehicle. They also decided to keep the location secret until after the electors had cast their votes.
Hobbs said she’s unaware of any specific threats to the electors. But given the threatening comments on social media toward everyone involved in Arizona’s election, she said it was decided that it wouldn’t be prudent to hold the event at the Commerce Authority.
“Rhetoric and threats just seemed to escalate over the last week,” Hobbs told the Mirror.
Hobbs, who now has a security detail because of the threats she’s received since the election, said she was worried about security at the Electoral College vote.
“Just in light of comments and emails and things that I’ve been getting, I was pretty concerned,” she said.
The votes were cast without incident at the convention center. The Department of Public Safety ramped up its security presence at the Capitol on Monday due to the Electoral College vote. A DPS spokesman said there were no incidents at the Capitol.
Trump supporters insist he’ll serve a second term, predict ‘civil war’ if not
Around two dozen pro-Trump demonstrators gathered at the Capitol on Monday morning to protest what they viewed as an illegitimate election marred by widespread fraud.
The group started on the Capitol mall, but, unsure where the electors were meeting and unaware that the voting ceremony had been moved from the Capitol, the group quickly moved to the entrance to the Executive Tower. Many espoused baseless or discredited fraud allegations, such as the notion that foreign powers rigged the election through ballot-counting machines from Dominion Voting Systems or that turnout in some Democratic areas exceeded 100%. Others groused about Ducey’s decision to certify the statewide election results, which the governor is required to do by law.
Some of the demonstrators held out hope that Arizona’s electoral votes would still be cast for Trump. And if not, many were still optimistic that Trump, whom they believe legally won the election, would ultimately be sworn in for a second term.
Traci Kinney, a 53-year-old Phoenix resident, said she was holding out hope that the electors would “do the right thing.” But if not, she said she would do everything she could to help right the wrong of the election. Kinney became emotional as she described the efforts she would undertake.
“If they do not do the right thing, I will make sure I bankrupt myself making sure they never serve in public office ever again,” Kinney said, fighting back tears. “I will give all of my time, every nickel and penny that I have. If I have to stand on a street corner and beg, I will make sure that they never serve the public ever again. And I will campaign tirelessly and relentlessly for true conservative constitutionalists.”
Many of the protesters expressed optimism that Trump will be sworn in for a second term on Jan. 20, regardless of what the Electoral College does. Some believed that the U.S. Supreme Court would rectify the situation — despite its recent rejection of a lawsuit from Texas’s attorney general, along with other litigation brought by the president and his allies.
Kim Taylor, 58, of Phoenix, said she was protesting to make sure fraudulent votes are counted and so Arizona’s leaders will know that people aren’t happy with what happened. She said the Electoral College needed to be put on hold until a thorough investigation can be conducted.
Taylor said she didn’t have a lot of confidence in the system. Nonetheless, she still expects Trump to serve another four years as president.
“But it’s going to be a battle. And it’s going to take patriots standing up to the fake news, to the propaganda out there, to the corrupt politicians. And they’re on both sides, sadly,” Taylor said.
Taylor said she doesn’t believe Biden will be sworn in as president. But if he is, she had a grim prediction for what’s in store for the United States.
“Civil war,” she said. “What’s the use of having an election? Why should we obey laws when nobody else is?”
Others weren’t as confident that Trump would ultimately prevail. Thirty-year-old Richard Thomas, of Phoenix, said that, based on what he’s seen from Ducey and the Supreme Court, Biden will “most likely” be sworn in next month.
“There will have to be a shadow government created for the next two and four years to retake the House and Senate, and also the presidency,” Thomas said. “I think everyone here is aware of the uphill battle that we have. But this is the battle that needs to happen.”
The gathering was calm and the atmosphere convivial for much of the morning, with demonstrators coming and going throughout the late morning and early afternoon. The only disruption came not from the pro-Trump protesters but from Leonard Clark, a liberal activist who has spent years protesting at the Capitol and testifying at legislative committees.
Clark arrived and began shouting at the Trump supporters, deriding the president and calling some neo-Nazis or comparing them to domestic terrorist Timothy McVeigh. He argued with several, specifically directing some of his invective at Daniel McCarthy, a former U.S. Senate candidate who was crushed in his challenge to Martha McSally in the Republican primary in August.
The 11 Democratic electors weren’t the only Arizonans who purported to cast electoral votes on Monday. The 11 Republican electors met to cast their votes for Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. The Arizona Republican Party said those vote certificates will be transmitted to Congress, to be opened on January 6, when a joint session of Congress formally announces the winner of the presidential election.
Another slate of would-be Republican electors actually sent notarized vote certificates for Trump and Pence to the National Archives as well. A spokesman for the Arizona GOP said the party was not involved with the fake electors.