Election Day in Arizona: Kari Lake Attacks Hobbs, Media, and Voting Issues

It's Election Day in Arizona.
It's Election Day in Arizona. Joe Raedle/Getty Images
It’s all over — except for the counting. Mostly.

The final day to cast ballots has arrived in Arizona. What a ride it’s been to get to Election Day 2022. Election deniers. Antisemitism. Racism. Debategate. Bounties. Rallies. Lots of them. And so much more.

But here we are, with Arizonans facing two women running for governor for the first time in state history. And whether Katie Hobbs or Kari Lake wins, it’ll be the fifth time a woman becomes Arizona’s chief executive — which is more than any other state in the U.S. Yet for women in Arizona, getting to be governor is complicated.

Polls are open until 7 p.m., and the first batch of results is expected to be announced in Maricopa County about 8 p.m. After that, final results could be days away.

Sit back and follow our Election Day coverage right here. And enjoy this playlist we compiled for our gubernatorial candidates.
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Voters at the polling place inside Burton Barr Central Library said casting a ballot was “smooth and quick.”
Katya Schwenk

Abortion Rights, Voting Access Top of Mind for Some Phoenix Voters

Mid-afternoon at the Burton Barr Central Library in central Phoenix, a steady stream of voters headed to cast their ballots. The process was “smooth and quick,” said Emma Foster, a Phoenix resident who cast her vote at the library.

Hours before, though, shortly after the polls opened at 6 a.m., Maricopa County officials announced the ballot tabulator at the polling site was temporarily inoperable, though voters could still cast ballots in person. Tabulator issues affected about 60 of the 223 voting locations across the county, malfunctions that added fuel to the fire of unfounded election fraud claims that have dogged the county for years.

The issue at Burton Barr was resolved quickly and, according to county officials’ statements on social media, was due to an incorrect password being entered multiple times, triggering a security feature.

Downtown Phoenix voters who stopped to speak with Phoenix New Times reported an efficient and easy voting process. Abortion rights was frequently named as a key issue. According to Scott Ludewig of Phoenix, it was the reason that he planned to vote for gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs and U.S. Senator Mark Kelly, both Democrats, over Republican opponents Kari Lake and Blake Masters.

Michelle Garcia, another voter at Burton Barr, immediately answered “women’s rights” when asked what her priority was in the election. But she said voting access also was a concern.

“They shouldn’t make access to voting as hard as they’re trying to,” she said, referring to the slate of voting-related ballot propositions that Arizona Republicans have pushed forward this year.

Emma Foster, another voter at the library, said that the ballot measures on voting were important to her as well. She said they were an attempt to “restrict people, mainly minorities and elders” from the ballot box.

— Katya Schwenk
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Joanne Smith and Sam Nicolosi carpooled to a Mesa polling place inside The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Tuesday.
Natasha Yee

‘Golden Tickets,’ Conservative Issues Motivate Some Voters in Mesa

A lengthy line snaked its way around The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Southern Avenue in Mesa.

As vehicles pulled in and out of the parking lot on Tuesday afternoon, a box at the entrance to the Mormon church was labeled, “(R) Golden Tickets Here.” The sheets of paper included a Republican guide to voting, including a nod to Randy Kaufman. The GOP candidate for the Maricopa County Community College Governing Board was arrested in October and charged for masturbating in public.

Some voters dropped off their ballots and left, while others, including Mesa resident Kimberly West, waited an hour and a half to cast her vote. It was well worth it, though, West said.

“I would have waited if it was 50 miles long. I’m concerned about the wide-open border, the economy, and the indoctrination of our children at school,” West said. “They’re teaching that America is bad and that white people are bad. We celebrated being American when I grew up.”

Kimberly Perrault, also a Mesa resident, checked a few polling spots before landing at The Church of Latter-day Saints with lines that were just as long as the other locations, she said.

West and Perrault became fast friends at the polling location, the women said, bonding over many of their shared beliefs.

“I wouldn’t call it indoctrination, but they’re putting things in the curriculum that are not important to our children,” Perrault said. “Why don’t they just stick with the basics, like writing, reading, and arithmetic?”

Perrault didn’t expand on specific things in the curriculum that she disagreed with and instead responded that civics and school choice are also important to her.

Joanne Smith, 83, and Sam Nicolosi, 74, carpooled to the ballot box. The neighbors had their own concerns about American democracy.

“I want to make our country great again,” Smith said. “I was especially interested in the proposition requiring people to show proof of citizenship, as well as the one that would fund our fire and policemen.”

Nicolosi said that he was most alarmed by immigration, inflation, gas prices, and the economy.

“We are on a fixed income as seniors,” he said.

The two waited in line before casting their ballots, but they wouldn’t dream of mailing in their ballots or filling them out at home and dropping them off.

“The way things are going nowadays, they say there’s election fraud,” Smith said.

For Nicolosi, waiting in line on Election Day was the way he’d always done it, he said.

Voters continued to add onto the line at the church into the late afternoon. At the parking lot entrance, just one lonely “golden ticket” remained as the sun began to set.

— Natasha Yee

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Kari Lake continued her attacks on her opponent, elections officials, and the media after casting her ballot on Tuesday.
Elias Weiss

Kari Lake: ‘They May be Trying to Slow a Red Tsunami’

A flock of reporters crowded the corner of First Avenue and Fillmore Street as one of Kari Lake’s campaign staffers — Andrew Clark, a strategist for former President Donald Trump — softly lamented, “We can’t kick them out. We can’t do anything.”

Lake, the GOP candidate for governor, arrived about 12:45 p.m. — some 45 minutes late — to cast her ballot at a polling place on Arizona State University’s downtown campus. Though her campaign told reporters earlier in the day that she’d vote in the ritzy Republican suburb of Paradise Valley, she said she was “forced” to vote in “liberal Phoenix” thanks to efforts by her opponent, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, to suppress Republican votes through malfunctions to voting machines in conservative neighborhoods.

Her accusations don’t align with the facts. Maricopa County elections officials oversee balloting, and problems with voting tabulating equipment on Tuesday aren't confined to specific areas.

“They may be trying to slow a red tsunami, but it is coming,” Lake said after casting her ballot. “We gotta win by a mile to eke out a one-inch win.”

Lake said it’s a conflict of interest for Hobbs to certify the governor’s race in which she is a candidate — although Lake was mum about the many Republican secretaries of state, such as Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who have certified their own gubernatorial wins in recent years.

“I think she should have recused herself,” Lake said. “She is unethical; she is incompetent.”

Lake’s attorney, “Big Gun” Harmeet Dhillon, piled on at the press conference. “One of the candidates on the ballot is responsible for the bad election preparation today. She is absolutely responsible for any errors happening in Maricopa County and throughout Arizona, and she should recuse herself,” Dhillon said.

Lake also attacked reporters who questioned if she would concede the race if she loses or if she’d demand that election officials extend polling hours in response to voting issues.

“I am going to be your worst fricking nightmare for eight years. I can’t wait,” Lake said. She added that she saw “a lot of you propagandists” in the reporter pool. “The fake news calls me names because I am standing up for Arizona.”

Attacking the media is a well-honed skill for Lake. As a Fox 10 anchor in 2019, she took aim at Phoenix New Times: “Fuck them.”

On Tuesday, Lake urged Republicans to stay in line even if voter machines required significant repair — and even if they “have to wait eight hours.”

— Elias Weiss
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Canvassers with the Arizona Working Families Party scrambled to send texts and make phone calls on Election Day.
Katya Schwenk

Progressive Activists Make Final Push for Votes

For the canvassers and phone bankers who have been working long hours on the campaign trail, Tuesday was a major milestone. Organizers with the Arizona arm of the Working Families Party, a progressive political party that has set its sights on several down-ballot races, were among them.

The group’s command center in downtown Phoenix was humming with energy on Tuesday morning. Volunteers and staffers tapped on laptops, sent flurries of texts to prospective voters, and made their final rounds of calls to voters.

A key focus for the Working Families canvassers is the race for Maricopa County Attorney. Longtime prosecutor and Republican incumbent Rachel Mitchell faces a challenge from Democrat Julie Gunnigle, a reform-minded attorney and harsh critic of the powerful office. The stakes in the race are high, said Ericka Persson, a national campaign strategist for the Working Families Party. “If all else fails — in the state legislature, up and down ballot — the prosecutor has the final say on what can and cannot fly,” she said.

Matthew Marquez, Arizona campaigns director for Working Families, said the canvassers concentrated their efforts on young voters and voters of color in two areas often neglected by campaigns: the East Valley and south Phoenix. “I think it’s been the perfect storm around the issue of reproductive justice, the investigation [by the Department of Justice of Phoenix police],” he said. The group’s messaging about criminal justice reform and reproductive rights resonated with these voters, Marquez added.

The close race for county attorney caused some anxiety, Persson said. “Usually, you have a sense,” she added. “I think if you’ve run a campaign with your heart, on Election Day you’re first and foremost exhausted. And then, you know that there’s more work to be done even after that day,” Persson said.

— Katya Schwenk
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Democratic candidates Katie Hobbs (center, black shirt), Kris Mayes (left, green shirt) and Kathy Hoffman (right, gray shirt) appeared at ASU in Tempe on Tuesday.
Natasha Yee

Katie Hobbs: ‘I Don’t Have A Lot to Add’

At Arizona State University in Tempe, the Young Democrats at ASU have set up shop across from Memorial Union, one of the buzziest locations on campus. As students made their final escape from Starbucks, coffees in hand after waiting in a line that would make TSA agents blush, they dispersed. Some headed to the polls on Apache Boulevard, while others strolled to tables and chatted with various student organizations.

Kris Mayes, the Democratic candidate for attorney general, arrived at about 11 a.m. and chatted with students. A young man who said he’s registered to vote in California shook hands with Mayes and enthusiastically told her about his passion for politics. Another student asked for a quick comment for his TikTok, and Mayes obliged. She told his followers to “get out and vote.”

Katie Hobbs, the Democratic nominee for governor, arrived about 10 minutes later. She met with a horde of students who sought photos and answers to questions. Kathy Hoffman, the Democrat seeking re-election as state Superintendent for Public Instruction, also joined the event.

“When I was first elected four years ago, it was the first time in over 20 years that Arizona elected an educator to lead the Department of Education,” Hoffman said to cheers from the students.
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Kris Mayes, the Democratic candidate for attorney general, rallied ASU students in Tempe on Tuesday.
Natasha Yee

Mayes spoke next.

“You know we’re going to win this election because we nominated awesome and they nominated crazy,” she said as the crowd joined in at the end.

Hobbs followed Mayes.

“I don’t have a lot to add to what you already heard. Except, who’s already voted?” she asked. A few hands were raised

Mayes and Hobbs later spoke with Phoenix New Times.

“American democracy runs through Arizona. Every vote today will count and every vote matters,” Mayes said. “We’re running against Republican candidates up and down the ballot who don’t believe in democracy. Arizonans deserve an attorney general who will create a state that they can stay in and live in. An Arizona in which they will be free.”

Hobbs stressed the importance of students voting.

“Their vote is their voice in our democracy, and this race could really determine the future of democracy, not just in Arizona but in the country,” Hobbs said. “Like Kris Mayes said, democracy in the country runs through Arizona right now.”

— Natasha Yee
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A message spotted outside the polling place at the Horizon Community Center in Scottsdale on Tuesday.
Elias Weiss

North Scottsdale Voters Split on Election ‘Bullshit’

Voters at the Horizon Community Center polling place in affluent North Scottsdale were showing up with their early ballots in hand.

“I’m worried that my ballot will be tampered with or that it won’t be counted,” Scottsdale resident Irene Saraf said. “That’s why I have my ballot here rather than mailing it in.”

Between 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., most voters arrived with the green early ballot affidavit envelopes that were mailed to them weeks ago. Few people showed up empty-handed to cast votes on the electronic machines that are causing problems all over Maricopa County.

“I don’t trust the postal service,” said one man carrying three green envelopes. He did not give his name. “I am still concerned that my ballot won’t be counted.”

During the August primary, some 122,000 “late early” ballots — those dropped off on the last day of voting — were cast on Election Day in Maricopa County. For the general election in November 2020, that number was just shy of 200,000.

“By law, we cannot retrieve those early ballots until after polls have closed and all voters have left,” Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer told New Times. “We then have to undergo all the normal early ballot processes that ensure the identity of the voter and the validity of the vote.”

Not all voters in the predominantly Republican Horizon neighborhood of Scottsdale were concerned about the voting process.

“No, I don’t believe my vote will be manipulated,” voter Ramkumar Boddupalli said.

However, the 71-year-old Scottsdale resident had other concerns — about who’s on the ballot.

“When I voted for [former President Barack] Obama, I knew I was doing the right thing. But now, I don’t know anymore,” he said. “I’m an old-timer. The good old days are gone, but hopefully, things will get better.”

Boddupalli only waited until Election Day to vote because he was returning from a trip to India.

Scottsdale resident Joan McNamara, 75, cast a “late early” ballot on Tuesday morning. She said she missed the deadline to mail it to election officials.

“I think once it’s turned in, it will be fine,” McNamara said of her ballot. “Most of the bullshit happens on the outside.”

— Elias Weiss
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Fencing and barricades surrounded the Maricopa County elections office on South 3rd Avenue on Tuesday.
Matt Hennie

‘A Lot of Press, A Lot of Police’ at Downtown Drop Box

The 24-hour ballot drop box at the elections command center in downtown Phoenix — one of several in Maricopa County at the center of a legal battle — was surrounded by fencing and barricades on Tuesday morning. But all was calm.

Vigilante groups, convinced of unfounded election fraud conspiracies related to the drop box, have attempted to monitor voters at this location and others, sometimes armed with weapons.

On Tuesday morning, reporters were set up in the parking lot and streets near the building, which sits at the intersection of South 3rd Avenue and West Lincoln Street. Sawsan Abdurrahman, a volunteer with the League of Conservation Voters who assisted voters as they arrived, said all had been quiet so far. “Not much has happened,” she said. “A lot of press, a lot of police out.” As for any vigilantes? “Not yet.”

A steady stream of voters made their way to the drop box. Occasionally, Abdurrahman stopped to help a lost voter who was looking for a polling place. “The integrity of our elections is extremely important,” Abdurrahman said. She was there helping because she cared, she said. In Arizona, she added, “it’s hard to keep caring.” But so far, everything had gone smoothly.

— Katya Schwenk
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Sheriff Paul Penzone said he doesn't 'have any patience' for people who try to disrupt Election Day.
Maricopa County

Maricopa County: ‘No Patience’ for Threats, Efforts to Undermine Election

Maricopa County officials worked to get in front of bogus claims of election fraud and security concerns ahead of Election Day during a press conference on Monday.

"We have spent really the great part of two years dealing with misinformation, responding to misinformation here in Maricopa County," Board of Supervisors Chair Bill Gates said. He was joined by Recorder Stephen Richer, Sheriff Paul Penzone, and several county elections officials.

They sought to shoot down unfounded claims that election workers have conspired to rig the election, that electronic voting machines don’t count votes accurately, that failure to officialize results on Election Night is evidence of cheating, and that Democrats are committing widespread voter fraud by submitting multiple ballots.

“That’s simply not the case,” Gates said. He warned that social media has become a hotbed for conspiracy theories centered around the claim that, without final results on Tuesday, there’s proof of a rigged election.

That’s in spite of the fact that Arizona has never had official results on Election Day or even in the days immediately following, Richer told New Times. No other state has, either.

“There is no such thing as simply injecting ballots into the system,” Richer said.

Penzone took a tough stance on any behavior that threatens Election Day.

"At this point, I don’t have any patience. I have been in this business for over three decades, and I never thought in my life that we would be putting physical barriers, fence lines, barbed wire, having deputies to the volume of what we have committed," Penzone said. "Anybody out there whose intentions are to undermine this effort, to create fear, to intimidate good men and women who are trying to facilitate this process, you will have to go through us to get there, and it's not going to happen on our watch."

— Elias Weiss
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Katya Schwenk is a staff writer for Phoenix New Times. Originally from Burlington, Vermont, she now covers issues ranging from policing to far-right politics here in Phoenix. She has worked as a breaking news correspondent in Rabat, Morocco, for Morocco World News, a government technology reporter for Scoop News Group in Washington, D.C., and a local reporter in Vermont for VTDigger. Her freelance work has been published in Business Insider, the Intercept, and the American Prospect, among other places.
Contact: Katya Schwenk
Elias Weiss is a staff writer at the Phoenix New Times. A native of Charlotte, North Carolina, he reported first for the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and was editor of the Chatham Star-Tribune in Southern Virginia, where he covered politics and law. In 2020, the Virginia Press Association awarded him first place in the categories of Government Writing and Breaking News Writing for non-daily newspapers statewide.
Contact: Elias Weiss
Natasha Yee is a dining reporter who loves to explore the Valley’s culinary gems. She has covered cannabis for the New Times, politics for Rolling Stone, and health and border issues for Cronkite News in conjunction with Arizona PBS, where she was one of the voices of the podcast CN2Go.
Contact: Natasha Yee

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