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Key candidate contributes to voter intimidation problem in Arizona

As some Arizona voters deal with harassment and intimidation tactics, the Republicans' secretary of state candidate is sending all the wrong messages.


The real-world consequences of Republicans’ election lies and conspiracy theories are painfully common. Arizona, for example, is not only holding some of the nation’s most important and competitive statewide races this year, it’s also been a hotbed for right-wing election madness in the wake of Donald Trump’s narrow defeat in the Grand Canyon State two years ago.

The Washington Post reported last week that local public officials expressed concern “that menacing bands of activist observers hunting for fraud will harass and intimidate voters.” One day later, those fears were borne out. The NBC affiliate in Phoenix reported:

Two armed individuals were seen dressed in tactical gear outside a Mesa ballot drop box on Friday, the Maricopa County Elections Department said. The department said deputies from the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office were called to the area. When they arrived, the two individuals reportedly left the area. ... This incident comes only two days after a Mesa couple reported an alleged case of voter intimidation outside a ballot box located at the Maricopa County Juvenile Court. The man and his wife say a group of people hanging out near the ballot box took pictures and video of the couple and accused them of “being a mule.” They also said they took photos of their license plates.

In case this isn’t obvious, there’s no evidence of meaningful voter fraud in Arizona in 2020 or any other recent election cycle; there’s nothing wrong with voting by way of ballot drop boxes; and there’s no need for vigilantes, fueled by discredited nonsense, to intimidate and harass law-abiding Americans engaged in the most basic of civic duties.

And yet, here we are. The Arizona Republic reported late last week, “Days after Maricopa County officials warned people to stop taking photos of voters and election staffers at ballot drop boxes, the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office continues to refer complaints to the Department of Justice.”

It’s against this backdrop that a man by the name of Mark Finchem has taken note of the developments, and he appears eager to encourage the wrong people. “WATCH ALL DROP BOXES,” he declared via Twitter last week. “PERIOD. SAVE THE REPUBLIC.”

Finchem added yesterday, “Soros does not want people to watch their shenanigans. We must watch all drop boxes because they do not have live cameras on them streaming to the public for people to ensure there is no fraud in the process. And now people are covering up license plates.”

In other words, as Arizona confronts a potentially dangerous situation in which vigilantes monitor ballot drop boxes for no reason, intimidating and harassing voters who’ve done nothing wrong, this guy is publishing tweets encouraging the reckless behavior.

And who’s Mark Finchem? He’s the Republican nominee for secretary of state in Arizona. As we discussed after his primary victory, Finchem is also an unhinged election denier who’s appeared on QAnon radio shows, attended the “Stop the Steal” rally in the nation’s capital on Jan. 6, and identified himself as a member of the Oath Keepers militia group.

He's also, incidentally, peddling equally weird conspiracy theories about Brazil's presidential election.

Finchem might actually win his race, putting him in a position to oversee elections in Arizona for the next four years.