Even though the Arizona governor’s race has been called in favor of Katie Hobbs, Hobbs’ opponent Kari Lake has not conceded and vote counting and vote correcting are still happening.
As has been reported (in mainly conservative media), many voters were turned away on Election Day because of broken printers or given provisional ballots that wouldn’t be counted. Furthermore, many ballots were not counted because of a non-matching signature or some mistake in filling out the ballot. This means voters are being contacted about their ballot being rejected and given a chance to correct or “cure” it. The window for doing this just ended on Nov. 17.
Considering how laughably convoluted this process is, along with its many vulnerabilities to fraud and error, it’s more than understandable to see why Lake, someone projected to win big and who faced a meek candidate who refused to debate her or even do much campaigning, refuses to give up. The glacially slow counting, the numerous malfunctioning printers and ballot machines, and the recent history of gross irregularities from the previous election all give ample reason for suspicion. There’s also the added wrinkle of Hobbs refusing to recuse herself from the role of supervising the election — somehow this didn’t constitute a conflict of interest.
And yet, for all this, the corporate media are blasting Lake for daring to challenge the election result, living up to her reputation as a dirty, rotten “election denier.” Here’s just a small sampling of headlines: “Election denier Kari Lake refuses to concede Arizona governor race she lost” in The Guardian, “Katie Hobbs elected Arizona’s 5th female governor, defeating election denier Kari Lake” in the Arizona Republic, “Kari Lake Is Denying Her Election Loss” in New York Magazine, and “Democrat Katie Hobbs defeats election denier Kari Lake for Arizona governor, AP projects” in Yahoo News.
As David Harsanyi has argued, this charge of election denier — that is, a person who questions and/or challenges elections — is a ridiculous criticism that stigmatizes perfectly rational behavior in a democracy. Furthermore, it’s a label that applies far more to Democrats despite being exclusively directed at Republicans. This insult (coupled with “the big lie”) became popular in 2020 after Donald Trump and many of his supporters claimed the presidential election was stolen.
It’s no secret that the left continues to call its opponents election deniers because it has been an effective tool to silence dissent. It casts people like Trump and Lake as unhinged losers who are ready to smash the whole system because they didn’t win. Thus, to give even the slightest credence to their objections is tantamount to undermining “Our Democracy.” And if anyone thinks that is an exaggeration, they should know that hundreds of Jan. 6 protesters have been thrown in prison and denied bail because they were “election deniers” who ostensibly posed a threat to the country.
However, the more successful it is to slander people as “election deniers,” the more destructive it becomes. First, it is an accusation that immediately groups the accused with every crackpot imaginable. Even though Lake has plenty of reasons to question her election, she is nonetheless associated with the QAnon Shaman and other disturbed crackpots who had their own theories about fraudulent elections and the deep state. This in turn pushes away her supporters and other conservatives who want to be taken seriously.
If the claim that an election is rigged is false, it should be easy enough for the left to simply prove it instead of delaying vote counting. But even if they can, the guilt-by-association still does more harm to conservatives who will start fighting one another instead of working together on getting accurate election results. This can be seen as Lake and her team toil away at curing votes and rooting out errors while her fellow Republicans have given up and have instead complained about candidate quality and messaging.
This attempt to move on not only demoralizes all efforts to challenge elections, but it also leads to faulty analysis. It’s completely useless to criticize the direction and composition of the GOP and its leadership when so many elections might very well be rigged. If Democratic candidates are stuffing ballot boxes and throwing out Republican ballots with impunity, it doesn’t matter who’s running for office, what they say, or even who’s voting. At the very minimum, Democrats’ relentless demands for mail-in ballots and remote voting, which are particularly susceptible to fraud, are a major threat to the integrity of our elections.
Second, and more importantly, the election denier accusation increasingly removes all recourse for justice. If an election is fraudulent, laws were broken, and large swaths of the electorate are effectively disenfranchised, there is nowhere they can turn because the well has been poisoned. As was shown in 2020, no judge, not even the U.S. Supreme Court, will dare hear the case and examine the evidence, and few conservative writers or pundits will bother talking about it. Rather, they will demand proof, knowing quite well that no amount of evidence will change their mind or any election outcome. Over time, it becomes an unprovable claim that guarantees political anathema to the conservative who makes it.
While Lake might not be able to overturn the result of her election, she should be commended for trying. Far from threatening the legitimacy of the election, she is breathing life into it, giving a voice to people who rightly want answers and accountability. Rather than being election deniers, they should be recognized as election defenders, putting their faith in the voters and the American political system.