AZ Election Official 'Pessimistic' about Democracy's Future
Wednesday, March 22, 2023
An Arizona election official shared his concerns at a recent national conference about threats to safe and fair elections.
Multiple experts at the University of California-Los Angeles School of Law event said they are worried about democracy as the next presidential election approaches. The conference topic was, "Can American Democracy Survive the 2024 Elections?"
Stephen Richer, county recorder for Maricopa County, a Republican who took office after the 2020 election, said he fears election denialism has become integral to the Arizona GOP, and the state has become "the global hot spot" for conspiracy theories.
Richer argued it has created what he calls an "incentive structure" for politicians to simply go along with.
"I am deeply, deeply pessimistic, because this is a necessary ingredient for winning a Republican primary in the state of Arizona is to say that the 2020 election, and now the 2022 election, were 'stolen' in order to win a Republican primary," Richer explained.
Richer shared some voicemail messages with the crowd, in which election deniers threaten him and his office for alleging election tampering.
Richer pointed out it is not helpful when election administrators have to deal with what he calls "a group of partisan warriors," with no election expertise, peddling false claims. But he noted one positive aspect to come from the election denialist movement is the general public has become more informed about the postelection procedures in Arizona, meant to verify election integrity.
"People became more aware of the postelection audits that are in fact done, because Arizona has long done postelection audits," Richer emphasized.
Speakers at the conference agreed misinformation is one of the root causes of the problems the nation is facing. They also called on the federal government to invest in, and enact more, legal and administrative protections for election workers.
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