One said he felt justified in declaring himself a voter and attempting to award Arizona’s votes to former President Donald Trump in the 2020 election due to the unprecedented questions surrounding the how ballots were cast and counted.
Another said she thought signing the paperwork allowing her to vote for Trump in the Arizona Electoral College was just a back-up plan.
A third said he was fulfilling his duty as a voter.
But none would detail exactly how they and other official Trump voters came to sign a document that was sent to Congress with a false admission that they were Arizona’s official vote in the Electoral College.
This document and recent revelations from the congressional committee investigating the January 6 uprising raise new questions about how the group was organized and how the bogus document came into being.
Interviews and text messages previously obtained by The Arizona Republic detailed how White House officials and Trump campaign officials pressured Republican leaders in Arizona to take further action to reject the general election results after Joe Biden’s victory.
A Republic report in December documented how Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani repeatedly spoke to Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers and asked him, unsuccessfully, to replace voters of the state — the people who had to certify Biden’s victory.
Following:White House Phone Calls, Baseless Fraud Accusations: The Origins of Arizona’s Election Review
But new questions emerged this week about whether efforts in various states, including Arizona, to create rolls of fraudulent voters were similarly coordinated.
On December 14, 2020, a group of prominent Republicans, including party chairman Kelli Ward, former lawmaker Anthony Kern, and new lawmaker Jake Hoffman signed a document declaring themselves voters in the state, supporting Trump.
All 11 people were on the general election ballot as potential Trump voters.
But Trump had lost Arizona. Governor Doug Ducey certified the election results in late November. Under state law, the only voters that mattered were those who pledged to vote for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, as they did on December 14, 2020 at noon.
The document signed by the Republicans, obtained last year from the National Archives by the group American Oversight, overlooked this detail.
He described the “undersigned” as “the duly elected and qualified electors for President and Vice President of the United States of America from the State of Arizona…”
The vote was sent to Congress, the state’s Republican Party said at the time. It was accompanied by a letter, signed by 22 Republican lawmakers in the state, which demanded that the Trump list be accepted as an official vote – or, alternatively, that no vote be accepted until an audit is complete. forensic.
A press release from the Arizona Republican Party on signing day said Trump voters gathered to “vote and send them to Congress where they are to be opened and counted beginning January 6.”
In a video posted to the Arizona Republican Party’s YouTube page on December 15, 2020, Ward, the party’s chairman, told viewers that the “real voters of the presidency” had gathered the day before to vote.
“We believe we are the voters for the legally cast votes here in Arizona,” she said.
Other documents similarly listing potential Trump voters were filed with the federal government by groups in other states at the same time.
A congressional resolution last month condemning former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows for failing to cooperate with the committee included texts and emails showing Meadows encouraging state lawmakers to “send lists of alternative voters in Congress”.
One member of Congress, according to the report, called the plan “highly controversial.” Meadows responded, according to the report, with a message that read, “Love it,” and later, “Have a team on it.”
Following:House votes to hold Mark Meadows in contempt for defying Jan. 6 subpoena
On “The Rachel Maddow Show” on MSNBC Wednesday, the host pointed out that part of the congressional report on Meadows.
Congressional investigators have previously interviewed Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, and Politico reported this week that the committee was looking into how some states submitted unauthorized voter lists.
The answers of fake voters
One of the signers of the document proclaiming an alternative voters list was Tyler Bowyer, chief operating officer of Turning Point USA, a group that aims to boost support for Trump among young voters.
Following:Cyber Ninjas Found In Contempt Of Court And Sentenced $50,000 Daily Fines For Failing To Release Public Documents
He said in a brief phone call Thursday that he was within his rights to sign the document.
“I was a voter,” he said. “I want to make sure we’re clear here. I was a voter for the Republican Party.
Another potential Trump voter, Rep. Hoffman, a Republican from Queen Creek, said Wednesday he felt empowered to declare himself a voter because of what he saw as the singularly unique questions about the 2020 election.
“In unprecedented times, unprecedented actions are happening,” he said.
Hoffman said the election was in dispute as voters gathered at Republican Party headquarters in Arizona. He said there was no case law or rules on what would happen if the outcome remained uncertain.
“That’s why we felt it was appropriate to provide Congress and the vice president with dueling options,” Hoffman said.
However, Hoffman would not say how the plan was developed or whether voters received any advice on how to write the document. He also did not say who told him where to be on December 14 to vote for the alternate voter.
Video footage of The Republic’s interview with Hoffman, captured by KPNX-TV, Channel 12, was rerun on cable television news Wednesday and Thursday.
Similar documents in other states
Documents submitted to Congress by five states had similar formats, wordings and fonts.
Two states, New Mexico and Pennsylvania, have inserted conditional language on voter status. The New Mexico statement said “it could be determined” that Trump voters were the real voters. The Pennsylvania document said Trump voters would only be official following a “final, no appeal” court order.
The Arizona document contained no such leeway.
Loraine Pellegrino, another Trump voter, said she understands the paperwork is just a back-up plan if the election is in question.
“It was in case there was a change in the decision here in the state,” Pellegrino said. “Things were up in the air for a while.”
Pellegrino, who served as a state delegate to the last three National Republican Conventions, rejected the idea of calling what she and her fellow voters did creating an alternative list of voters. She said they were “just voters”, nothing more.
Pellegrino said voters were simply doing what they expected to do after a Trump victory. In her mind, she says, only the location has changed. Rather than a ceremony at the state Capitol, it was a quieter affair at the Arizona Republican Party headquarters.
“We signed exactly the papers we would have signed had we been on Capitol Hill,” she said.
Pelligrino said she carefully reviewed the document before signing it. She said she did not understand why she was being asked why she would sign a document affirming her position as an official voter.
“We were voters for Trump and we hoped things would change,” she said. “Just in case, we’ve signed our documents to be ready in case something gets cancelled.”
Other Trump voters who signed the document included:
- Kern, a former state legislator who lost his seat in the 2020 election. Kern was spotted on the steps of the United States Capitol on January 6. He was also briefly among the volunteers counting ballots during the Arizona Senate-ordered review of ballots cast in Maricopa County.
- Jim Lamon, businessman and current candidate for the United States Senate.
- Ward, the chairman of the Arizona Republican Party.
Other voters who signed up were Cochise County Republican Party Leader Robert Montgomery, Nancy Cottle, Sam Moorhead, Greg Safsten and Mike Ward, husband of Kelli Ward.
On Dec. 14, the day the actual and alternate voters lists met, Stephen Miller, an adviser to Trump, told Fox News Network that he knew alternate voters lists were voting in some states.
“As we speak today, an alternate list of voters in contested states will cast their ballots and we will send those results to Congress,” Miller said.
Miller said the administration would ensure the alternate slates were “sent side by side to Congress.”
Another group of 11 Republicans, claiming to represent the “sovereign citizens of the great state of Arizona”, also met in December to nominate themselves voters and vote for Trump. He also sent his notarized documents to the National Archives.
But, in response to a Republic story about that effort, the Arizona Republican Party denounced that group of alternate voters as frauds. The party posted a photo of its 11 alternate voters on Twitter calling it “the only 11 list you need to worry about – ignore the ‘others'”.