Arizonans know that politicians sounding the alarm on a stolen election in our state are simply trying to divide us and create distrust in a system we’ve relied on for decades.
Our state has been a leader in making it easier for our citizens to vote. Nearly 30 years ago, we became one of the first states to allow voters to request a mail ballot without needing to explain why they couldn’t show up to the polls on Election Day. And in 2007, the Legislature created the Permanent Early Voter List, allowing Arizonans to receive their ballot at home without having to reapply every election.
This system we created has been trusted by both political parties: since 1991, we sent my former Republican boss, John McCain, to the U.S. Senate five times, and we elected Democrat Janet Napolitano to the governorship. We voted for President Bill Clinton in 1996 and we voted for President Donald Trump in 2016.
However, because the vast majority of Arizonans vote by mail, it can take longer to count the hundreds of thousands of ballots that arrive at the county recorder’s office in the last days before Election Day. In 2014, it took eight days to find out Martha McSally won her race for Arizona’s Second Congressional district. And in 2018, it took nearly a week for Arizona’s U.S. Senate race to be called for Democrat Kyrsten Sinema.
That delay in 2018 didn’t sit well with Donald Trump and his most faithful supporters in Arizona. Trump and Arizona GOP chair Kelli Ward cried foul, with accusations of voter fraud and “electoral corruption.”
Gov. Doug Ducey was notably among the handful of Republicans who didn’t cry “fraud.” That’s because he knows that our elections are trusted and secure. After all, that’s how he got elected.
We’re already hearing the same cast of characters making the same claims about the 2020 election. In other states, right-wing groups are resorting to intimidation tactics to scare people from showing up at the polls. Fortunately, Arizonans still have time to vote in person on or before Election Day, but Governor Ducey and Attorney General Mark Brnovich should put a full stop to any attempt to intimidate voters.
What’s more, elected leaders must assure Arizonans that they won’t try to stop the vote count early. In 2018, local Republican elected officials and others threatened to have the vote count stop early, because they were ahead in the vote count and didn’t want ballots from late-deciding voters – Arizonans who mailed their ballots in the weekend before Election Day – to be counted. County recorders must carry out their duties faithfully and ensure that voters in each county know the status of their ballot and when it is counted.
This is such an important election. Let’s make sure every voice is heard and every single vote is counted. Then we will accept the results and work together to make our state and country better.
Grant Woods was elected as Arizona attorney general in 1990 and served two terms through 1998.