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Arizona Trump Voting Rights Rally and March Highlights Fight for Democracy

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One side fears a return to the past, hearing echoes of Jim Crow in the present.

The other has been convinced by a sustained disinformation campaign that the US election is rigged.

The latter came out strong on Saturday at former President Donald’s Trump’s first rally of 2022 in Florence, Arizona. Among the dozen or so Trump supporters there who spoke to CNN, big conspiracy theories — all of which have been debunked — about how the 2020 election was supposedly rigged (such as through slot machines). vote related to former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who died in 2013) appear to have given way to more refined talking points that align closely with the restrictive voting measures adopted by Republicans across the country. “There’s a famous statement – ‘sometimes the vote meter is more important than the candidate,'” Trump said in a video posted online Friday, highlighting how Republicans motivated by his election lies have sought to undermine legitimacy. American elections. Arizona — which President Joe Biden carried in 2020, becoming the first Democrat to carry the state since 1996 — has been at the center of those efforts.

On Saturday in Florence, Trump showed exactly what kind of “vote counters” he approves of.

Speaking at her rally, Kari Lake, Trump’s gubernatorial pick, said there were a few people she “would like to send straight to jail here in Florence.” Anyone who was involved in this corrupt, sleazy, botched election of 2020. get ’em up.” Mark Finchem, an Arizona state representative whom Trump has endorsed to be the state’s top election official as Secretary of State, has previously echoed QAnon-like conspiracy theories about election officials and continues to argue that the vote in Arizona was stolen from Trump, which has been widely denied. of Maricopa, commanded by state Senate Republicans, confirmed Biden’s victory in the county.Finchem has previously been linked to the Oath Keepers, a far-right group. Some of its members were indicted last week of “seditious conspiracy” linked to the attack on the American Capitol.

“I look forward to the day when we set aside an irretrievably flawed election. This is the 2020 election. With all the evidence we have, the election in Arizona should be rightfully overturned by the legislature,” Finchem said, repeating the former president’s lies. of the podium during his rally on Saturday.

A year-long sustained attack on the integrity of US elections has paved the way for these candidates to become the natural choice in 2022 for Trump, who is trying to exert his influence on the GOP – including local election officials – by at the same time he is considering another bid for the White House in 2024. A recent Washington Post tally found that “at least 163 Republicans who have embraced Trump’s bogus claims are running for statewide positions. which would give them authority over the administration of the elections”.

But also at Trump’s rally, there was rare praise for a Democrat.

“She’s our representative, she represents the state, she’s non-partisan, that’s what’s good for the country,” Robbie Kimsey, an Arizona voter and Trump supporter, said about of Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema.

Sinema, along with Senator Joe Machin of West Virginia, is blocking the passage of a pair of voting rights bills that Democrats hope could counter some of the restrictive voting measures passed by Republicans at the level of the state. Sinema said she supported the bills but not in favor of changing Senate rules to get them passed.

Opposition from these two moderate Democrats is frustrating suffrage activists, including those who gathered in Arizona over the weekend.

“She says she wants the right to vote, but how do you want the right to vote without creating a pathway for that to happen? It’s inconsistent; it’s unacceptable,” said Martin Luther King’s son Jr., Martin Luther King III, at CNN in Phoenix. On Saturday.

The King family had traveled to Arizona to take part in a suffrage march, calling on Sinema to take action – warning that history would not judge her kindly.

“I think we’re really at a watershed moment,” Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democratic gubernatorial candidate, told CNN.

Hobbs said democracy prevailed in 2020 because election officials on both sides of the aisle did their jobs — but now, with Trump-endorsed Holocaust deniers running for jobs that would give them authority over the election, the future is less certain.

“The 2022 election, I think, is going to determine the future of our democracy,” Hobbs said.

It’s a sentiment shared by Yolanda Renee King, the 13-year-old granddaughter of Martin Luther King Jr., who was with her family this weekend in Phoenix, telling CNN, “I think it’s so important to vote and it’s so important to have the right to vote, because right now our country is at stake.”

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