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Ariz. secretary of state refers Kari Lake for criminal prosecution over tweeting voter signatures

The Arizona secretary of state referred Kari Lake for a class 6 felony.

Published: January 31, 2023 2:01pm

Updated: January 31, 2023 5:18pm

Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes has filed a criminal referral against 2022 GOP gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake for tweeting pictures of voter signatures.

Fontes, a Democrat, sent the referral Monday to Attorney General Kris Mayes via a letter in which he points to a tweet Lake posted about a week earlier that showed 16 voter signatures.

Since losing to Democrat Katie Hobbs, Lake has continued to contest the results of the race, which includes questioning some ballot signatures, a call for at least a partial recount, and the argument that some voters were disenfranchised on Election Day when voting machine problems occurred in at least 70 vote centers in Maricopa County that forced them to leave – and either go home or to another polling station.

The Lake tweet in question reads: "Today's Senate Testimony CONFIRMS nearly 40,000 ballots illegally counted (10% of the signatures reviewed). I think all the 'Election Deniers' out there deserve an apology."

The tweeted graphic with the signatures reads, "Do you think these Arizona ballot signatures match??? There are 38,909 ballots with this exact issue. All counted."

Lake is currently appealing a court ruling that threw out her legal challenge to the election results.

Fontes wrote in his referral, "The protections afforded by this subsection prohibit posting any information derived from voter registration forms or precinct registers to the internet, and under no circumstance may a person other than the voter or [a] statutorily authorized person reproduce a voter's signature. A violation of this provision is a Class 6 felony."

He also wrote that he was referring the matter to Mayes "for further investigation and possible prosecution."

Lake's campaign Twitter account tweeted on Monday in response to the referral, "Adrien [sic] Fontes wants Kris Mayes to investigate & potentially imprison @KariLake for the 'crime' of... sharing signature verification evidence that was presented before the @AZSenateGOP & is currently in her lawsuit. Welcome to the Banana Republic of Arizona."

On Tuesday, Fontes tweeted an interview he did with MSNBC regarding the referral, captioning it, "Vigor and strength. That's the only way we protect our election workers and fight back against disinformation."

Fontes decried election denialism from "MAGA fascists" in the interview, saying, "We have to attack this terrorism directly because it is an attack on our democracy."

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