Kari Lake’s lawsuit is a collision between election denialism and GOP strategies on early voting, election security

Lake is just one of many election deniers in Arizona — a hotbed for election misinformation since 2020.

Lake filed a lawsuit in Maricopa County Superior Court on Dec. 9 asking for the state to overturn the results and declare her the winner, saying the voting process was marred by broken machines and long lines.

“If the process was illegitimate then so are the results, stay tuned folks,” Lake tweeted before filing a lawsuit. Maricopa County officials said they would review the case, but experts widely expect her to lose this legal appeal.

Lake’s lawsuit reveals the deep collision between election denialism and long-running Republican strategies that oppose early voting and election security measures. Trump’s election denialism sprung up after the 2020 election, but for Lake, it was baked in from the start. Experts say that may have ultimately hurt her at the ballot box.

Experts say some of Lake’s accusations of voting issues were self-inflicted

In response, election officials told voters that they would still be able to vote and were instructed to place their ballots into a secure election box, and they would be transported under bipartisan observation to be counted after the polls close.

According to Lake, there was a “depressed voter turnout.” Voters, primarily Republicans, frustrated by the long lines, Lake claims, simply did not vote.

“It cannot be disputed that the Tabulator breakdowns on election day impacted Republicans voters more than Democrat voters,” the lawsuit states.

David Becker, the executive director and founder of the nonpartisan Center for Election Innovation and Research, said there were issues, but the “chaos,” to the degree that it existed, in Maricopa County due to the printer glitch was entirely fictional.

There was a backup process, Becker said, that should not have caused additional lines.

Lake’s voters likely had a bigger problem with “self-disenfranchisement,” as the campaign has not documented evidence of voters turned away at the polls.

Becker described Lake’s lawsuit as “the same fever dream of conspiracy theories” seen in other cases and on social media.

It’s also worth mentioning that Lake’s complaint relies heavily on biased declaration of witnesses.

“You have to understand that all these witnesses are coming from a biased perspective,” said Benny White, a Republican elections expert and data analyst in Tucson. “They were witnesses in the first place because they were looking for errors.”

“Early voting issues” has long been a claim by election deniers

There has been an effort to villainize early ballot voting among some Arizona Republicans who claim without evidence that early voting is susceptible to fraud. The New York Times reported that, contrary to Republican claims, there is no evidence to support the claim that mail-in voting favors Democrats. Republicans pushed the vote-by-mail system in Arizona.

“The Republican Party strongly endorsed voting by mail and took advantage of the public records involved to Get Out the Vote for many years,” White explained. “It wasn’t until Steve Bannon and Donald Trump convinced their worshippers that voting by mail was bad that it became an issue.”

Becker thinks that there are some voters who are likely “true believers” siloed in their media environments who truly believed that the election was illegitimate. But there are also voters, Becker said, who slightly preferred Lake to Hobbs, who “think this [lawsuit] is ridiculous.”

Garrett Archer, data analyst at ABC15 in Phoenix and former senior elections analyst at the Arizona secretary of state, estimates (based on polling) that around 33 percent of the Republican electorate stand behind Lake and would be considered “true believers.” Most of the Republican electorate, Archer said, is just typically supporting Republicans but do not necessarily think the election was compromised.

Arizona is no stranger to election deniers

Looking ahead to 2024, Becker said his primary concern is not that election deniers will seize power when they have lost because, as he noted, the courts have done “a remarkably good job” at preventing this from happening. Instead, Becker is concerned that election deniers, like Lake, have the power to “marshal a lot of anger and violence.”

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