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Mark Finchem

Arizona's Republican candidate for secretary of state, Mark Finchem, speaks at a rally held by former President Donald Trump in Prescott Valley, Arizona on July 22, 2022. (Photo: Mark Finchem/Facebook)

Jan. 6 Rallygoer Wins GOP Primary for Arizona's Top Election Official

A member of the far-right extremist group Oath Keepers, Mark Finchem has vowed to end early voting in the state and has called for the 2020 election results to be decertified.

Julia Conley

In Arizona Tuesday night, state Rep. Mark Finchem became the sixth Republican who denies the legitimacy of the 2020 election results to win a state secretary of state primary race, bringing him a step closer to overseeing Arizona's elections—and posing "a danger to our democracy," as one critic said.

"To protect our elections and freedom to vote, we must defeat them up and down the ballot, from county clerk to secretary of state."

Finchem was present at the January 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol, although he says he did not enter the Capitol building where the House was certifying the election results.

He is a member of the far-right, anti-government extremist group Oath Keepers, which recruits law enforcement and former military members and has confronted antiracist protesters in Ferguson, Missouri and Charlottesville, Virginia, as well as patrolling polling places.

Finchem's official website features a petition that supporters can sign to push for the decertification of the 2020 election results in Arizona, and he sponsored legislation earlier this year to "set aside" the results in Yuma, Maricopa, and Pima Counties, claiming there is "clear and convincing evidence that the elections in those counties were irredeemably compromised" despite the fact that no such evidence has been found after recounts and investigations.

Considering Finchem's background, the Arizona Republican primary for secretary of state was "one of the scariest races" that took place Tuesday, said Daily Beast columnist Wajahat Ali ahead of the election.

"Just in case voter suppression doesn't work, Trump and Republicans are banking on Arizona congressman Mark Finchem to help them throw out the state's electoral votes if, God forbid, the state votes against Trump in 2024," predicted Ali.

Endorsed by former President Donald Trump, Finchem has vowed to end early voting in Arizona, baselessly claiming it leads to fraud, and to pull Arizona out of the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), the nonprofit group which helps states to maintain accurate voter rolls and increase voter registration access to eligible voters. Both Republican and Democratic election officials have said ERIC helps to prevent election fraud.

Finchem also wants the state to switch to paper ballots and has supported a proposal that state legislatures should be able to appoint their own presidential electors if they believe an election was fraudulent.

As Common Dreams reported earlier this week, Finchem is one of several election-denying secretary of state candidates whose campaigns have been funded partially by dark money groups.

Promoters of Trump's "Big Lie" have also won Republican secretary of state primaries in Michigan, New Mexico, Alabama, Nevada, and Indiana.

Secretary of state primaries are also scheduled to take place in states including Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Massachusetts in the coming weeks, with one pro-Big Lie candidate who has argued "machines controlled" the 2020 election and one who has called for Wisconsin's results to be decertified.

The success of election deniers in GOP primaries is "a five-alarm fire for our democracy and our freedom to vote," said Sean Eldridge, founder and president of Stand Up America.

"To protect our elections and freedom to vote, we must defeat them up and down the ballot, from county clerk to secretary of state," said Eldridge.

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