Arizona election officials push back on Trump tweet




Photo by Jim Small | Arizona Mirror

Arizona election officials of both parties repudiated a tweet from President Donald Trump that again pushed the baseless allegation that voting by mail fosters election fraud and suggested that the November election should be delayed “until people can properly, securely and safely vote.”

Trump has repeatedly promoted, without evidence, unverified claims that voting-by-mail is susceptible to fraud, largely in response to Democratic calls for all-mail balloting to ensure that people can vote safely amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The president reiterated those claims on Thursday, along with a more novel argument that the alleged fraud may necessitate moving the date of the Nov. 3 general election.

“With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???” Trump tweeted Thursday morning. 

Democratic and Republican election officials in Arizona took issue with both the election fraud allegations and the suggestion that the election be delayed. 

“I have no words. It’s very disappointing,” said Yavapai County Recorder Leslie Hoffman, a Republican.

About 80% of Arizonans vote by mail, and voter fraud involving those ballots is extremely rare, according to election officials and the Attorney General’s Office. Five states — Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington — conduct all-mail elections and send ballots to every registered voter, though people are still permitted to vote in person on Election Day if they wish. Election officials in those states, as well as in Arizona, say voter fraud involving mail-in ballots is negligible and not a problem. 

Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes, a Democrat, called the president’s claims “misinformation and disinformation.”

“Unsupported claims remain unsupported. There’s not much more to say than that,” Fontes said.

In Arizona and all-mail states, voters’ identities are confirmed through their signatures. Voters must sign the envelopes in which they mail their ballots, and election workers who have been trained in signature verification compare those signatures to the ones that are on file for those voters. If the signatures don’t match, election officials contact the voter to determine whether they actually cast the ballot.

“We have the infrastructure in place to make sure that it’s secure. So even with the potential ramp-up of people choosing to vote that way in (this) election, we’re fine,” said Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat. “All of the allegations from folks trying to undermine this method of voting are just not based in the actual way that it works.”

While Trump’s claims about voting by mail are well-trod ground, his suggestion that the election could be delayed was new. The president doesn’t actually have the authority to unilaterally change an election date. That can only be done by Congress, where the idea lacks support from both the Democrats who control the House of Representatives and the Republicans who control the Senate.

Both of Arizona’s senators, Republican Martha McSally and Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, said the election will be held as scheduled on Nov. 3, The Arizona Republic reported.

Hobbs emphasized that even during the Civil War, the United States did not move or delay the 1864 presidential election.

“Can you tell me a time in our country’s tumultuous history when we have delayed an election?” she said. 

Congress also made no such move for the 1918 midterm elections, which occurred during the Spanish Flu pandemic and during the waning days of World War I.

Historian Michael Beschloss tweeted that delaying a presidential election would be an unprecedented move.

“Never in American history — not even during the Civil War and World War II — has there been a successful move to ‘Delay the Election’ for President,” Beschloss wrote.

Jeremy Duda
Associate Editor Jeremy Duda is a Phoenix native and began his career in journalism in 2003 after graduating from the University of Arizona. Prior to joining the Arizona Mirror, he worked at the Arizona Capitol Times, where he spent eight years covering the Governor's Office and two years as editor of the Yellow Sheet Report. Before that, he wrote for the Hobbs News-Sun of Hobbs, NM, and the Daily Herald of Provo, Utah. Jeremy is also the author of the history book “If This Be Treason: the American Rogues and Rebels Who Walked the Line Between Dissent and Betrayal.”