A protester holds a sign outside the Executive Tower in Phoenix on Dec. 14, 2020. The protesters believe Donald Trump won re-election in 2020 and objected to the state casting its electoral votes for Joe Biden. Photo by Jerod MacDonald-Evoy | Arizona Mirror
A group of people who sent a slate of fake electoral votes for President Donald Trump to Washington, D.C., may be facing legal trouble for using the state seal without authorization.
Secretary of State Katie Hobbs sent a cease-and-desist letter to Mesa resident Lori Osiecki, one of the 11 fake electors, demanding that her group no longer use Arizona’s state seal. The state requires people to get the secretary of state’s permission to “use, display or otherwise employ any facsimile, copy, likeness, imitation or other resemblance” to the state seal, which Hobbs said the group didn’t do.
Hobbs also referred the matter to the Attorney General’s Office for investigation. Using the state seal without authorization is a class 3 misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and a $500 fine.
Osiecki and 10 others, who identified themselves as “The Sovereign Citizens of the Great State of Arizona,” sent signed, notarized certificates to the National Archives purporting to be electoral votes for Trump, despite the fact that former Vice President Joe Biden won Arizona by about 10,500 votes. They also sent a copy of their faux electoral votes to the Secretary of State’s Office. The state seal was on the cover sheet of the documents, as well as at the top of each subsequent page.
“By affixing the state seal to documents containing false and misleading information about the results of Arizona’s November 3, 2020 General Election, you undermine the confidence in our democratic institutions,” Hobbs wrote in her letter, dated Dec. 22.
Osiecki could not be reached for comment.
The group cast its fake electoral votes as Trump supporters across the country rejected the results of the presidential election. Many Trump supporters, as well as the president himself, have falsely claimed the election was swayed by fraud and have spread baseless conspiracy theories and unsubstantiated claims, particularly about Biden’s win in Arizona and five other swing states.
Osiecki and her cohorts were not the official Republican electors who were pledged to vote for Trump if the president had won Arizona in the 2020 general election.
Arizona’s official Republican electors, which includes several prominent GOP officials, submitted fake electoral votes of their own on Dec. 14, the date when electors across the nation cast their votes. The Arizona Republican Party said the votes would be sent to Congress, where it hopes they will be counted as Arizona’s official electoral votes on Jan. 6, when Congress will count and certify the votes of the Electoral College.
Some Republicans believe that Congress can reject Biden electors and instead certify Trump as the winner of the election. The notion is widely rejected because both the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives and the Republican-controlled Senate would have to vote to reject a slate of electors.
Were the votes of Arizona’s Republican electors to somehow be counted, they would be deemed invalid under state law. Arizona is one of 33 states prohibiting “faithless electors,” a term for electors who cast their votes for a candidate other than their state’s winner. If an Arizona elector casts a vote for someone besides the winner, his or her position would be immediately deemed vacant, and the chair of the political party representing the winner would choose a replacement.
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