The Arizona Republican Party announced last week that it would reward anyone who provides evidence of vote buying in the 2022 election a $50,000 reward, with up to two rewards. The evidence must lead to an arrest and conviction.
The press release explains how vote buying occurs, usually with mail-in ballots since they are not kept secret. “Unfortunately,” the AZGOP said, “the movement towards mass mail-in voting completely undoes secret ballot reform. Mail-in ballots are not secret – once a person has a ballot in their home, they can easily show it to anyone, including bad actors.”
The AZGOP said there was a “historical precedent” of “vote-buying fraud,” and cited the “significant” alleged ballot trafficking revealed in Dinesh D’Souza’s 2000 Mules documentary. “We suspect that the primary source of the trafficked ballots was vote-trafficking.”
Buying votes is a class 5 felony in Arizona. A.R.S. 16-1006 is broadly written, prohibiting the influence of someone’s vote in several ways, including through bribery, threats, and deception.
AZGOP Chair Kelli Ward has been a proactive Republican leader when it comes to stopping voter fraud. She wrote a book about the 2020 election and subsequent audit, Justified: The Story of America’s Audit.
Under her leadership, the party has actively engaged in primary races, in part to defeat candidates who deny there was fraud in the 2020 election. Ward and the AZGOP tweeted on Tuesday about knocking on doors to defeat Speaker of the House Rusty Bowers (R-Mesa), who single-handedly defeated more election integrity bills this past year than any other Republican legislator in the House. The AZGOP censured him last week.
Three of the Republican candidates for governor believe there was election fraud in the 2020 election. In June, Maricopa County Republican Party leadership unanimously passed a resolution that rejected the 2020 presidential election results.
Political watchers and activists note that Arizonans are on heightened alert for voter fraud this year. Pinal County accidentally mailed about 65,000 ballots to voters earlier this month containing errors, forcing officials to resend partial ballots. The AZGOP is issuing warnings this year about stolen ballots. The party’s director of communications, Kristy Dohnel, said voters in Mohave County are reporting ballots stolen out of mailboxes, and found ripped up and discarded on the ground. She also said some voters tracked their ballots through the secretary of state’s website, which showed that ballots had been mailed to them but were never received.
Some Arizona voters have shared their frustrations an concerns on Twitter. One voter in Maricopa County asked why two strangers’ ballots were mailed to her address, and why another voter who isn’t on the Permanent Early Voting List received an early ballot.
Hey @stephen_richer — can you explain why two strangers’ ballots were mailed to my address?
Also, @azaustinsmith has been a day-of voter for months. Why did he receive one? And why isn’t this fixed from 2020?
If we don’t have secure elections we don’t have a country. Period. pic.twitter.com/i7zfsRHZ5i
— Amy Samuel (@amyesamuel) July 18, 2022
Voters also say they are very concerned about fraud due to previous incidents in 2020. The movie 2000 Mules identified hundreds of individuals in Arizona whose cellphone signals appeared to indicate they were trafficking ballots from Democratic-aligned nonprofits to ballot drop boxes prior to the 2020 election. In the documentary, a whistleblower whose identity is disguised discusses a prominent Democratic official in San Luis – which is a small town of about 25,500 located in Yuma County – who engaged in ballot harvesting and even enlisted her to assist.
This individual may have been Guillermina Fuentes, who pleaded guilty to ballot harvesting in June. Two Yuma community activists, David Lara and Gary Snyder, a Republican candidate for State Senate District 23, caught the ballot harvesting Fuentes was involved with in action, using a hidden camera in San Luis.
In April, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich issued an interim report midway through his investigation of the results of the independent Maricopa County ballot audit, announcing that 100,000 to 200,000 ballots had no chain of custody.
There are a few caveats and restrictions listed in order to receive the reward, such as rules that charges must be brought by the end of the year and a conviction obtained within a year. Tips can be sent to [email protected].
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