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Arizona governor says state elections are safe

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Capitol Media Services photo by Howard Fischer.
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Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, center, and son Joe, both with early ballots in hand, chat Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022 with Andy Kunasek outside their polling place in Paradise Valley. Kunasek was a volunteer for his sister, Karrin Taylor Robson, in her bid to be the Republican nominee for governor.

By Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services
PARADISE VALLEY -- Gov. Doug Ducey has a word of advice for people who believe Arizona elections lack integrity.
You're being lied to and deceived.
"I think there have been people out there misleading them,'' the governor told Capitol Media Services on Tuesday as he showed up at a church here which serves as a polling place. "And they continue to mislead.''
Ducey was not naming names.
But even before Election Day he already had made it clear by his endorsements in Tuesday's Republican primary that he would not back those who have made claims of fraud in the 2020 election a part of their campaigns: gubernatorial hopeful Kari Lake and Mark Finchem who hopes to be secretary of state. Instead he backed Karrin Taylor Robson and Beau Lane.
He said others need to speak up.
"It's up to leaders, other leaders, to talk about the confidence in our system, the improvements that we've made,'' said Ducey who, after serving two terms as the state's chief executive, cannot seek reelection.
Much of the fuss that occurred two years ago in the presidential race was related to the fact that the final results weren't known for days.
In fact, early tallies showed Democrat Joe Biden with a lead of more than 100,000 votes over Republican Donald Trump. That resulted in Trump supporters rallying outside the Maricopa County ballot tabulation center and even death threats against Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, amid claims that all the votes would not be counted.
When all the results were in, Biden hung onto his lead -- just barely -- besting the incumbent by just 10,457 votes statewide.
But Ducey said those changing numbers in the hours and days after the polls close should not undermine voter confidence in the final tally.
The governor said he expected about 70% of the vote to have been reported about an hour after the polls. And he believes that provides a "real good indication'' of the ultimate outcome.
Still, Ducey acknowledged that there's a reason that vote tallies -- and even winners -- change over time.
Some of it has to do with party affiliation.
In general, Democrats vote in stronger numbers in early ballots than Republicans. That's what occurred in 2020 when 92.1% of the votes for Biden were by early ballot, versus 84.4% for Trump.
And those mailed-in ballots, which are counted ahead of election day, are the first reports released by county and state election officials.
The dynamics may be a bit different in a primary.
But they can be affected by factors such as Trump, who endorsed Lake, having claimed that mail-in ballots can lead to massive electoral fraud.
If Lake supporters followed suit and did not vote early, that could mean that votes for the former Fox affiliate news reader may not be in the initial counts, even though she herself sent a Twitter message to supporters last month urging those who have an early ballot to "fill it out and mail it in ASAP.''
Ducey said people should not be worried as vote totals change over time.
"If people jut take a few minutes to understand the process, they'll know that we do it right here in Arizona,'' he said.
For his part, Ducey said he always gets an early ballot mailed to him. But the governor said that he has never dropped his voted ballot in the mail and prefers to take it to a polling place on election day.
"To me, it's a civic holiday of holy obligation,'' he said.
"I like to walk into election headquarters,'' Ducey continued. "And I like to see the people, thank them as well.''
And the governor said there's something else about hanging on to his early ballot as long as possible.
"I like to wait until the last minute because I want to know all the information on the candidate,'' said Ducey.
"I think sometimes early voting is similar to putting a verdict in a jury trial before you have all the evidence,'' he continued. "So that's why I prefer election day.''
Still, Ducey acknowledged that nothing he has seen or heard in the past few days caused him to reopen that ballot envelope and change his votes.
"But I've paid attention the whole time,'' he said.''
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On Twitter: @azcapmedia
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