Editor’s Note: Jon Gabriel is editor-in-chief of Ricochet.com and an opinion contributor to the Arizona Republic. Follow him on Twitter at @ExJon. The views expressed here are his own. Read more opinion at CNN.
In contrast with the tight and turbulent Arizona election, Monday’s certification of the state’s voting results was uneventful. Boring, even. And most voters on both sides seem content with that.
Seated alongside the current governor, attorney general and chief justice, Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs officially certified the November 8 results at a small ceremony.
“I just want to once again thank the voters of Arizona. Because of your participation, our democratic institutions thrived,” now Gov.-elect Hobbs said. “Stay engaged and keep voting.”
The bipartisan group of officials smiled for cameras, showing no sign of the extended post-election battle still wending its way through courtrooms. There were no protesters outside the venue, or anywhere else for that matter.
Unless you count Twitter.
“We will not stop fighting,” defeated Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake tweeted, “Because the people of Arizona were disenfranchised.”
Election Day was dogged with long lines at polling places, malfunctioning tabulation machines and a last-minute lawsuit to extend voting hours. This was followed by a 13-day vote count, which ended with razor-thin margins in key races. And allegations of fraud and conspiracy ever since.
Hobbs defeated Lake by 17,117 votes, or a 0.6% difference. Kris Mayes, the Democratic candidate for attorney general, edged out Republican Abe Hamadeh by a mere 511 votes, triggering an automatic recount.
Yet conspiracy theories, which made a big impact in 2020 in Arizona and elsewhere, are barely making a ripple today. Losing candidates can allege fraud if they want, but Arizona Republicans now demand proof. Two years of Trumpian “stop the steal” nonsense wore everyone down – even many of the true believers.
To date, Lake has offered angry claims, intense assertions and vague theories. She hasn’t demonstrated that more than 17,000 votes were somehow flipped from R to D. Unless she’s carefully hiding some silver-bullet evidence (and why would she?), few Arizonans are buying her story. Her Trump-style campaign failed, and her Trump-style post-election complaints are failing as well. That’s a relief.
“This is a responsibility I do not take lightly,” outgoing Republican Gov. Doug Ducey said before signing the certification documents. “It’s one that recognizes the votes cast by the citizens of our great state. Voting is a fundamental principle of our nation’s democracy. It’s an important right and an effective method in ensuring Americans’ voices are heard.”
Ducey, a staunch conservative, earned the ire of the “America First” wing of his party back in 2020. During that certification, he appears to have silenced a phone call from then-President Donald Trump, focusing instead on his legal duties as governor. It became a viral moment during that crazy December.
Cochise County, in the southeast corner of the state, tried to avoid certifying its results, despite their voters choosing the GOP by a large margin. Their Board of Supervisors finally gave in after a judge ordered them to do so.
But, outside of angry statements online and in conservative media, few seem interested in challenging the results. Lake’s team keeps trying to start a parade, but nobody’s following.
State law allows Lake to file a lawsuit up to five days after the official certification, which she has sworn to do. She must be hoping it will go better than her previous lawsuit in this election.
Back in April, Lake joined Mark Finchem, the failed Republican candidate for Secretary of State, to block Maricopa and Pima counties from using any electronic device to cast or count votes. Instead, they demanded paper ballots and a hand count.
The suit was dismissed for standing in August, with US District Court Judge John Tuchi calling it full of “conjectural allegations of potential injuries.”
In response to that suit, the embattled Maricopa County Board of Supervisors asked for legal sanctions due to “false allegations about Arizona elections.”
Last week, Tuchi agreed, sanctioning Lake and Finchem’s legal team to deter “similarly baseless suits in the future.” The final damages are to be announced in about a month.
One official who will oversee Lake’s next lawsuit was present at Monday’s certification. Outgoing Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich clarified that he served merely as a witness, and should not be interpreted as taking one side or the other in any future court case.
“As we gather today to solidify the 2022 midterm election results, many Arizonans of all political persuasions continue to have doubts about our election processes,” Brnovich wrote in a statement Monday.
“As attorney general, I have made it one of my office’s highest priorities to defend our election laws and advocate for changes when necessary,” he added. “I will continue to do so throughout the end of my term.”
Get our free weekly newsletter
Meanwhile, Lake and her dwindling post-election campaign continue to blast everyone involved – Republican, Democrat and independent.
She recently appeared on Steve Bannon’s podcast, accused Twitter of disabling “likes” and “retweets” on her account and pitched her upcoming appearance alongside former White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell at the “America Fest” conference.
“To all my fellow ‘Election Deniers’ out there,” she tweeted over the weekend, “it turns out we were RIGHT. Again.”
Lake has every right to file her lawsuit, even if counterproductive. But it looks doomed to fail and deservedly so.