Photo/Ross D. Franklin, Pool Felecia Rotellini, a member of Arizona's Electoral College, signs the Arizona Presidential Elector Ballot certificate Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, in Phoenix.
Photo/Ross D. Franklin, Pool

“At the end of the day, we did our jobs by officially casting our vote, certifying that, and sending it up to Congress.”

As a federal committee closes in on a handful of Arizonans who acted as illegitimate electors in the 2020 presidential election, a local group is also speaking out: Arizona’s legitimate electors.

“I took my oath of office. These folks went out of their way to try to interfere in that process,” Steve Gallardo, Maricopa County Supervisor and one of Arizona’s 11 electors for the 2020 presidential election, told The Copper Courier. “They tried to overturn the ballot I signed.” 

Gallardo, along with Arizona’s other official electors who cast their votes for President Joe Biden in 2020, said the “alternate-electors” of Arizona “should be held responsible for trying to overturn the election.”

How Electors Are Selected

During the summer of 2020, two potential slates of electors were nominated in Arizona: One by the Arizona Democratic Party, and one by the Arizona Republican Party. The popular vote in the 2020 presidential election then decided which party’s electors would be selected to cast the official vote, which would in turn be counted and certified by Congress. 

After Biden won the popular vote in Arizona—with 10,457 votes over former President Donald Trump—all 11 of Arizona’s electoral votes went to Biden. 

The 11 individuals nominated by the Democratic Party and listed on the general ballot met at the Phoenix Convention Center on Dec. 14, 2020, to cast their electoral votes. This was then certified by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and Secretary of State Katie Hobbs. 

In addition to Gallardo, electors included Pinal County NAACP President Constance Jackson, Tucson Mayor Regina Romero, and Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez. 

“I was honored to be one of those 11 to cast my vote for the winner, which is the current president and vice president,” Nez said.

Party-Sanctioned Illegitimacy

Meanwhile, the Arizona electors listed on the general ballot in support of Trump met at the Republican Party headquarters on the same day and signed a document falsely declaring themselves the “duly elected and qualified electors” of Arizona.

Similar false documents were signed by “alternate-electors” in Georgia, Michigan, New Mexico, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

A December tweet from the Arizona Republican Party—more than a month after the election took place and a month before the election was certified—said that the election results in Arizona remained “in doubt” and that the conflict would be “later sorted out by the courts and Congress.”

Both slates of electors signed documents that were sent to Congress and the National Archives. The official document in support of Biden was signed by Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs — the fake certificate of vote was not.

The Arizona Republic reported that the fake document also included the state seal without approval from Hobbs.

In the months following Biden’s win in the state, Arizona Senate Republicans—led by Senate President Karen Fann—hired a private firm to conduct a partisan audit of election results in Maricopa County. This was in addition to the two independent audits of the election results which validated the county’s election results.

Even Cyber Ninjas, the cyber security firm leading the widely scrutinized audit, found that Biden won the majority of votes in Maricopa County.   

“It is known that there were hardly any voting irregularities in the state of Arizona,” Nez said.  “Even with what the Legislature tried to do, the evidence was that there’s no voter fraud.”

A Precursor to the Insurrection

A joint session of Congress met on Jan. 6, 2021, to count the legitimate electoral votes from each state and confirm Biden’s win. This was interrupted by a violent attack on the Capitol led by far-right extremists. 

Despite these efforts to further delay the election process, former Vice President Mike Pence confirmed Biden’s win in the early hours of Jan. 7.

Two months later, the progressive organization American Oversight obtained and published the documents showing 11 prominent Republicans signed a false certificate of vote. This led to subpoenas from the US House Select Committee to Investigate Jan. 6 Attack on the United States Capitol. 

As of now, Arizona “alternate-electors” subpoenaed include Nancy Cottle, Loraine Pellegrino and Kelli Ward. Letters sent to those subpoenaed can be found on the Select Committee website

Bennie Thompson, chairman of the committee, issued a statement that said “The Select Committee is seeking information about efforts to send false slates of electors to Washington and change the outcome of the 2020 election.” 

Gallardo emphasized that he believes “these people should be held responsible.”

Nez agreed. “If anyone has broken the laws, we all know they should be held accountable,” he said. “At the end of the day, we did our jobs by officially casting our vote, certifying that, and sending it up to Congress.”

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