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Lake’s big ballot chasing announcement is standard for any AZ campaign 

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Lake’s big ballot chasing announcement is standard for any AZ campaign 

May 23, 2023 | 8:29 pm ET
By Caitlin Sievers
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Lake’s big ballot chasing announcement is standard for any AZ campaign 
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Kari Lake speaks at a campaign event in Scottsdale on Oct. 19, 2022. Photo by Jerod MacDonald-Evoy | Arizona Mirror

A day after a judge shot down her challenge to the results of the 2022 governor’s race, Kari Lake called a press conference to make a “big announcement.” 

But that announcement wasn’t that the failed 2022 Arizona gubernatorial candidate was  launching a bid for U.S. Senator or that she’s appealing the case, although she said she has plans to take it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Instead, Lake announced that she’s starting a ballot chasing initiative, an effort to keep track of Republicans and independents on Arizona’s early voting list and make sure they actually cast their ballots, and to register new voters. 

“We are going to start chasing ballots like you’ve never seen,” Lake told a gathering of media and supporters outside of her campaign headquarters Tuesday afternoon. 

She claimed that it would be the biggest ballot chasing initiative in the history of the nation. 

But according to Tony Cani, Democratic consultant and deputy director of the 2020 Biden campaign in Arizona, ballot chasing is standard practice for all political campaigns, and not something Lake just discovered. 

“It is the most basic and most standard thing in campaigns of all levels to find out who your supporters are and to remind them to vote,” Cani told the Arizona Mirror. 

Lake bragged that she had millions of dollars committed and thousands of people on board for the ballot chasing initiative, to be led by conservative activist Merissa Hamilton. 

“We’ve got to work in this rigged, corrupt system,” Lake said. “We cannot allow them to steal another election from we the people.” 

Even after losing two election challenges in Maricopa County Superior Court and appealing the case up to the Arizona Supreme Court, Lake still claims that the governorship was stolen from her through a corrupt election process. She was also a purveyor of the “Big Lie” that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump. Lake lost to Democrat Katie Hobbs by more than 17,000 votes. 

Cani believes that Lake’s Tuesday announcement at least partially resulted from the realization that Republican efforts to persuade members of their party not to vote by mail backfired and might have cost them races in 2022. 

Lake said that in the 2022 election, there were 218,000 Republicans and 332,000 independents who were on Arizona’s early voting list and received a ballot in the mail but didn’t end up voting. She wants to make sure those voters cast their ballots in 2024. 

Ahead of the 2022 general election, Republicans in Arizona encouraged voters to cast their ballots in person on Election Day instead of by mail, and they’ve now realized that strategy was a mistake, Cani said. 

While it’s still very early to be starting a ballot chasing initiative for 2024, Cani said it does take time to build up a good field operation and to train and recruit staff for it. However, he added that the bulk of the ballot chasing work typically happens in the last month before the election, when campaign staffers usually work overtime to remind supporters to vote. 

Although Lake says that judges who ruled against her had proven that election rules no longer matter, she said she wasn’t encouraging any illegal election activity on the part of her supporters or followers. 

“We’re going to use every legal way we can,” Lake said. “The judges have basically said anything goes, election laws are just suggestions.” 

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson dismissed Lake’s case Monday evening, ruling that she and her lawyers had failed to prove that no ballot envelope signature verification happened in Maricopa County for the 2022 general election. Two of Lake’s witnesses testified that they took part in the county’s signature verification operation. 

Lake didn’t specifically answer a question on Tuesday from a reporter about where the money was coming from to fund her ballot chasing initiative, but said it would be paid for by “real people.” Lake went on to read a few lines from letters sent to her by supporters. 

With so many eyes on Lake Tuesday afternoon, she  took the chance to deride members of the “liberal media” in attendance and to say that the whole court system in which she lost her election challenge case was corrupt. 

“It doesn’t matter to me what you say about me,” Lake said, even though she spent a significant portion of the press conference accusing the media of biased and dishonest coverage. “I care about what God thinks about me.”