CBS correspondent Major Garrett interviewed Kari Lake on Sunday’s Face the Nation, where he allowed the far-right GOP nominee for governor of Arizona to spread election misinformation with no pushback. Lake cast doubt on the 2018 and 2020 elections, after which Garrett simply thanked her for appearing on the program.
Lake is a prominent election denier linked to Nazi sympathizers and QAnon figures. The former local news anchor is a regular on far-right propaganda outlets like Steve Bannon’s War Room and One America News Network. She has aggressively promoted the debunked “Sharpiegate” conspiracy theory, called to replicate the bogus, QAnon-linked Maricopa County audit “in every county in Arizona,” and repeatedly called to “decertify” the 2020 election. Lake maintains she would not have certified Arizona’s presidential election results had she been Arizona’s governor at the time due to debunked conspiracy theories. (There is no legal pathway to decertify or change the results of a presidential election.)
And while a profile on Sunday in The Atlantic clearly explained Lake’s campaign strategy of spreading doubt and misinformation about elections, calling her “the new face of the MAGA movement,” Face the Nation seemed unprepared to counter her election falsehoods.
Here is the reality behind Lake’s misleading and false claims about elections:
Claim: “I think we have major problems in our election system. And it goes back to 2000. We had Democrats saying the 2000 election wasn't fair. They were complaining the 2004 election wasn't fair. 2016, Kamala Harris spoke out and said that the electronic voting machines were hacked in front of her eyes. … What I say is we have problems in our election. They haven't been solved in 2016. They weren't solved in '18.”
Reality: As countless reporters, election officials, and former members of Donald Trump’s Justice Department have repeatedly explained, the 2020 election was secure — not plagued by “major problems.” And the Trump campaign’s illegal attempt to overturn the 2020 election is certainly not comparable to Democratic objections to the 2000, 2004, and 2016 elections.
Claim: “And now all of a sudden in 2020, Garrett, we don't have free speech anymore. We can't speak out against our own elections. All I'm asking for is the ability to speak out when our government does something wrong — we should be able to speak out against it.”
Reality: The government is not shutting down free speech around elections — Trump’s legal challenges were allowed and failed in court. Since then, many people have continued to attack election companies and falsely claim that the election was rigged to favor Democrats. As a result, private companies like Smartmatic and Dominion Voting Systems are suing election deniers for defamation.
Claim: “Just a month or two ago during our primary election, and I'm sure your viewers don't even know this, Katie Hobbs' office advised the counties on how many ballots to print. This was two months ago. And they under-printed ballots in our biggest county and they ran out of Republican-only ballots one hour into voting."
Reality: Lake’s comment suggesting Hobbs, her Democratic opponent and the current Arizona secretary of state, played some nefarious or unusual role in telling counties “how many ballots to print” is misleading; creating ballots and administering elections are part of the normal jurisdiction of secretary of state and chief elections officer. Ensuring counties print enough ballots for voters prevents ballot shortages, like the recent Pinal County ballot shortage, which can disrupt the election process. In that case, several voting precincts ran short of GOP primary ballots on Election Day and had to print more, seemingly due to “a higher amount of people requesting day of, in-person ballots, and Independents requesting Republican ballots because so many Democrats were running unopposed in major races.” County attorney Kurt Volkmer apologized, explaining, “It was just simply a mistake”:
The Secretary of State’s office confirms there were out of 95 locations, about a dozen locations in Pinal County experienced ballot shortages, including cities like San Tan Valley, Apache Junction, Eloy, Casa Grande, and Coolidge. During a news conference Wednesday afternoon, county leaders explained how limited resources and the inability to print out new ballots quickly fueled problems at voting sites throughout many communities.
“When we got a call for help, we initiated our EOC command,” said Volkmer. EOC responds when voting locations run out or are running out of ballots, “That happened a little over 20 times.”
In one example, county officials explained that the printer could only print out about one ballot every three minutes and therefore only had the ability to print every three minutes. That means that while most sites had two printers, they only had the capacity to print out about 40 ballots per hour. In response to the printing issues, the use of express voting machines, typically reserved for those who require disability accommodations, was authorized for the general public. The county says that helped alleviate some of the stress at polling sites.