Majority of Arizonans trust elections, despite persistence of election denialism

An overwhelming majority of Arizona voters trust elections and don’t want to see baseless challenges to their outcomes, according to a recent poll.

Secure Democracy Foundation, a nonpartisan election policy advocacy group based in Washington D.C., conducted polls in five battleground states ahead of the midterms. Despite persistent and baseless allegations that elections in the Grand Canyon state are susceptible to fraud, 86% of Arizona voters responded they were confident in Election Day voting and 77% said they trusted voting machines.

That resounding consensus is a stark contrast to the narrative of election deniers that has come to characterize the state, and is proof that Arizonans trust the election process, said Daniel Griffith, senior policy director at the foundation.

“When you get a real cross section of voters, not just those with the loudest voices, what you’ll find is the majority of people have confidence in elections,” he said. “They know that there are checks and rechecks and reconciliation and redundancies in place to make sure everything is counted correctly and they trust local election officials to report the right results and they count on their elected officials to certify those results.”

The majority of voters, including Republicans — whose party fielded candidates peddling election conspiracy theories at the top of this year’s statewide ballot — don’t align themselves with election deniers, Griffith said. Election results should be certified by the secretary of state even if a losing candidate claims, without evidence, that fraud occurred, according to 79% of respondents and 69% of Republicans.

The failure to concede an election is likewise dismissed by Arizona voters as a reason to stop election processes from moving forward. About 94% of Arizonans across the political spectrum and 93% of surveyed GOP voters said that’s not enough to halt the official certification process.

“The majority of Republican voters, based on our findings, are not interested in a narrative that involves not certifying elections absent clear proof of some kind of fraud,” Griffith said.

While the poll was conducted in mid-October, before the election on Nov. 8 and the subsequent ushering in of new criticisms leveled against on-demand printer issues in Maricopa County, Griffith said he expects the results to hold up. There aren’t yet any formal plans to conduct a follow-up poll, but election confidence is a topic that isn’t leaving the foundation’s list of research interests anytime soon, he said, especially as politicians continue to sow distrust in the process.

In Arizona, losing candidates for the three top statewide positions continue to lobby baseless allegations of fraud at election officials. Gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake has refused to concede after failing to capture the office by more than 17,000 votes and Abe Hamadeh, running for the position of attorney general, filed a lawsuit alleging, without evidence, that his loss was due to a combination of illegal votes for his opponent and thwarted votes for him. Despite a margin of more than 120,000 votes, Secretary of State candidate Mark Finchem has also failed to concede and has begun crowdfunding for future legal challenges that will “bring those who trample on our elections to justice and fix the 2022 election.”

Not only do those sorts of attitudes and baseless claims undermine public confidence and threaten the integrity of elections across the country, but they are wildly out of step with the majority of voters — exactly the people candidates should be courting to succeed, Griffith pointed out. In fact, the midterm election bolstered the conclusions of the poll by showing that election denialism is far from a winning strategy.

“The voters on election day reinforced our findings by showing that candidates who embraced that election denial rhetoric were less popular than some other candidates from their same party on the statewide ballot,” Griffith said.

Kimberly Yee, incumbent State Treasurer, successfully fought off a challenge and didn’t espouse the false claims of the Big Lie, like others in her party such as Lake and Finchem did. An analysis of voting trends showed that Yee resoundingly won Republican strongholds in the state, but Lake and Finchem, among other election deniers, failed to energize the same Republican voters..

While election deniers and conspiracy theorists have become a vocal feature of county board meetings and legislative hearings, they’re an ever-shrinking minority, Griffith said, and mainstream voters are both unconvinced and increasingly turned off.

“A lot of members of the general public have heard a lot of this stuff and realize there’s not a lot of evidence,” he said. “In many ways, they’re getting tired of it.”

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