A group of leading election fraud deniers spoke at an event in downtown Phoenix put on by the civic organization Arizona Talks. The forum was moderated by Steve Goldstein, a longtime PBS host who recently moved on to join Save Democracy AZ, which is pushing open primaries. The panelists consisted of failed Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer, Secretary of State Adrian Fontes, and Jackie Salit, president of Independent Voting.
Goldstein said he supports rank-choice voting. He said since the Arizona Legislature isn’t getting the reforms passed that he wants, he recommends a version of ranked-choice voting to select legislators and members of Congress since he said their seats are gerrymandered — that picks the top two for those offices. He complained that members of the two parties no longer cross the aisle to vote with the other side, implying that the Republicans in the legislature aren’t compromising as much as they used to. The 2023 legislature is one of the most conservative in recent years, with several brand-new legislators scoring at the top of conservative ratings.
Salit said, “There is something wrong with partisanship driving the system.” She expressed her support for open primaries to help independents. She claimed it will “help us move beyond division, polarization, and partisanship.”
Richer advocated for two positions counter to the other panelists, which he has brought up before. He said “when you’re thinking about defending democracy,” talk to people from varying views. He said the delay in tabulating results after an election needs to be fixed so people don’t become suspicious as the counting goes on for days. He said the early ballot system needs reform so a barrage of ballots isn’t dumped off on Election Day.
Secretary of State Adrian Fontes praised “an energetic leader who can create almost a cult-like following in politics. That’s not always a bad thing.”
He explained, “This is someone who can bring folks together, even if it’s only on one side of the aisle, and make it so that that party gains power and moves in a forward direction for our leadership. As human beings, it’s part of our narrative, we can look at as examples that we’ve built in different parts of the world. Much of it will not necessarily have happened without strong leadership.”
Richer said, “I am the best recent recorder in recent history.” He admitted that “Maricopa County is going to be the center of the political universe” in 2024. However, he failed to acknowledge that is because many people around the country believe it is a hotspot for election fraud.