Arizona GOP secretary of state candidate Mark Finchem explains prior use of early voting

Oct 7, 2022, 11:05 AM | Updated: 11:57 am

PHOENIX – State Rep. Mark Finchem, the Republican nominee for Arizona secretary of state, said Thursday his concerns about mail-in voting are recent, which is why he regularly cast early ballots until this year.

Finchem was called out earlier this week for statements he made last month during a candidate debate that critics say were at odds with his actual voting history.

“I do not care for mail-in voting. That is why I go to the polls,” he said during the Sept. 22 debate.

On Wednesday, local journalist Dillon Rosenblatt reported on public records showing that Finchem was on the list to receive an early ballot by mail from 2008 to April of this year. And before this year’s primary in August, he turned in an early ballot every time he voted but once since 2004.

“What I said is, I don’t like voting by mail and I haven’t for the last election,” Finchem told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Gaydos and Chad Show on Thursday. “Now before that, yeah, I did vote by mail, but that’s before I realized that it’s not secure.”

Finchem cited the widely debunked movie “2000 Mules” as the basis of what changed his mind. But he’s been expressing doubts about President Joe Biden’s 2020 victory since well before that film was released this year.

He was in Washington for Donald Trump’s speech on Jan. 6, 2021, but there’s no evidence he participated when Trump supporters broke into the Capitol while Congress was certifying Biden’s victory.

He said during last month’s debate that if he’d been Arizona’s secretary of state in 2020, he would not have certified the election results in Yuma and Maricopa counties because he thinks they were “irredeemably compromised.”

On Thursday, Finchem denied that he wants to do away with Arizona’s popular early-voting system, something that would have to be done by the Legislature, not the secretary of state. But he still thinks it’s vulnerable to illegal ballot harvesting.

“The only way you stop that is we have to perhaps adjust the mail-in system,” he said. “Now, I think to say that I’m against mail-in voting, that’s a misrepresentation of what I’ve said.”

However, in Dec. 2021, Finchem tweeted: “We must get rid of mail in voting.”

The secretary of state’s duties include serving as Arizona’s chief election officer, and the position is first in the line of succession for governor. Early voting for the Nov. 8 general election starts Wednesday.

Finchem, a former Michigan police officer who retired to Arizona, is running against Democrat Adrian Fontes. Fontes is the former Maricopa County recorder who was in office during the 2020 election that Finchem questions. Fontes lost to Republican challenger Stephen Richer in that election.

Fontes is a strong supporter of early voting.

“It’s outrageous to think that you’re going to force people to stand in line on the exact same day, that means everybody,” he told Gaydos and Chad in a Sept. 20 interview. “You’re going to force people not to have the option to vote by mail? Where are we going to put all the polling sites?”

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Arizona GOP secretary of state candidate Mark Finchem explains prior use of early voting