PHOENIX — Historically, casting Arizona’s electoral votes has been a routine part of the process to complete the general election. However, there’s nothing routine about 2020 Election and Monday’s vote had plenty of drama, passion, and conflict.
Arizona’s 11 electors convened after multiple legal challenges, protests, and calls for legislative interference. They did their constitutional duty framed by deep mistrust between those who stand by and those who discredit the state's election process. Tensions between the groups led to the vote taking place in a secret location away from its traditional home at the State Capitol. The 11 electors sat in a large room, masked, and distanced as they voted for the Democratic ticket of President Joe Biden and Vice-President-Elect Kamala Harris.
Security concerns aside, the official electors were excited to participate, representing a Grand Canyon state as divided as the rest of America. Arizona Democratic Party Chair Felecia Rotellini hand-picked the 10 who joined her in confirming the win for Biden.
"I wanted to reflect Arizona’s voter diversity," said Rotellini. "I wanted to acknowledge folks who have deep roots in the state who have been working for decades not just for the political successes we’ve had recently, but also for the economic and social successes of our state.”
Among the 11 electors were Tucson Mayor Regina Romero, Arizona Education Association (AEA) Executive Director Luis Alberto Heredia, and Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez.
“The Navajo people and Native Americans in the state of Arizona and all across the country came out in big numbers," said President Nez. "I think people do look at Native Americans in the state for changing the state from red to blue so it’s going to be my big honor to cast my vote.”
"Our elections have always been sacred for democracy in this country," said Mayor Romero. "To see a president sow doubt into the process that everyone from his DOJ, to Republican Secretaries of State across the country, to the court systems, have maintained that the election was won well. There was no fraud and we should continue to put the trust and faith in our election system.”
Meanwhile, a defiant Arizona Republican Party announced it gathered its 11 chosen electors, who would have been selected if President Donald Trump won a majority of Arizona's votes. The party claimed the group had precedent to cast its own votes for Trump citing continued doubt over the results of Arizona's vote. Note that courts, state elections offices, state legislatures, and outgoing Attorney General William Barr have all found no evidence of widespread fraud or malfeasance that would award the win to Trump. In the face of all that evidence, Arizona GOP Chair Dr. Kelli Ward refused to accept the results
"With ongoing legal challenges to the 2020 presidential election still being heard in the courts, and state legislatures across the country holding hearings on election fraud and voting irregularities,” Dr. Ward said, “It is imperative that the proper electors are counted by Congress."
A second Trump group, who identified themselves as “Sovereign Citizens of the great state of Arizona” also submitted a document claiming to have cast alternate electoral votes on behalf of Arizona. They submitted their document directly to the National Archives to be considered as the official electoral votes for the incumbent president, and they did so before the actual official documents certified by the Arizona Secretary of State's office had reached that step. The Secretary of State said neither of those submissions will be accepted or counted when Congress meets January 6, 2021 to accept the election results.
Arizona follows a strict process to ensure proper certification of the state's electoral votes. To be considered official, the votes need to contain the state's official seal and to be enclosed in an envelope with a certificate of ascertainment signed by Governor Doug Ducey and Secretary of State Katie Hobbs... Arizona electors are also bound by a “faithless elector” law preventing any elector from casting a vote for the candidate who did not receive a majority of votes. Without meeting those requirements, the documents submitted by these non-official groups on behalf of the Trump-Pence ticket will not be considered.
"It adds to that cynicism that is out there, which is going to be damaging for the history, I mean for understanding the legitimacy of elected officials in this country," added AEA’s Heredia.
Still, Mayor Romero and others remain hopeful the completion of Arizona's electoral vote will begin a process of bringing the state together.
"It is time to work on healing, work on seeing each other as fellow Americans, fellow Arizonans," said Mayor Romero. "We have differences just like any other family has, but we want the best for our country for Arizonans and for fellow Americans, and we are going to work really hard at protecting what we have.”