Home Politics Meet the Arizona Election Official Combating Misinformation One Tweet at a Time

Meet the Arizona Election Official Combating Misinformation One Tweet at a Time

by Alexander
0 comment
Meet the Arizona Election Official Combating Misinformation One Tweet at a Time

Election conspirators haven’t stopped since the election either: A Maricopa Board of Supervisors meeting ended in chaos last month after a group of election conspirators stormed the stage at the end of the meeting shouting that a “revolution” was underway. Board members had to be led out through a side door by guards. Threats and intimidation by Trump supporters have led to a threat Hundreds of election officials had to resignAnd thousands more to remain silent about the fear of being attacked.

All this makes Richer an outlier. Richer has continued to speak out against allegations of election fraud and insecurity, despite continued threats and intimidation. Richer is doing it, he tells WIRED, because he still believes he is best placed to combat the spread of misinformation online. And Richer has once again thrown his hat into the ring, seeking re-election for Maricopa County Recorder in November. In the Republican primary, Richer faces former state representative Justin Heap a vocal critic of the election administration in Maricopa County and is in line with numerous election deniers.

“When you go online and you’re on Twitter, you’re going to get a certain amount of backlash, which may not be something that some people want in their lives,” Richers says. “Our approach in Maricopa County has been to put out as much information as possible in many different media, and then hope that some of that pays off.”

He also knows that an uphill battle awaits him in November. Recently one survey from the Bipartisan Policy Center found that only 18 percent of Americans look to local election officials for information. “This is a remarkable decline,” is stated in the report.

“I often think: what am I doing here? Am I doing this to correct the record? Am I doing it to win an argument?,” Richer said. “I have to keep in mind that winning an argument is not the same as convincing people.”

Richer, a former corporate lawyer, was elected Maricopa County Recorder in November 2020 after his defeat of Democratic incumbent Adrian Fontes, who is now secretary of state. When Maricopa County became ground zero for the newly emerging election denial movement, Richer became the focus of the attacks, despite having nothing to do with the conduct of the election.

After criticizing the so-called election audit passed by the Arizona Senate, Richer received a death threat via voicemail, and in 2022 a Missouri man was indicted on federal charges linked to the call. Richer received dozens of threatening phone calls during this time and says the threats came from people walking in the door half a dozen states. Many of the callers, he added, have been arrested for making threats, including an Alabama man was arrested last week.

The election fraud allegations weren’t just anonymous, though: In 2022, Lake accused Richer of sabotaging her campaign for governor by improperly printing 300,000 ballots, which were then discounted. Richer sued her; Lake’s attorneys tried to get the lawsuit dismissed in December by claiming that their client’s comments about Richer were simply “her opinion about the facts‘ and therefore protected speech.

Despite this, Richer continues to speak out and tweet. Not everyone hates him: In 2021, he was named Arizonan of the Year by the Arizonan Republic of Arizona. In the same year, The Phoenix New Age called him the Best Republican Politician of the Year for his willingness to speak the truth about the integrity of the state’s electoral processes.

And he often thinks about which fraud allegations are worth responding to and expanding on. “At what point do you get involved and risk promoting it to a wider audience? Or do you just let it die a natural death within four or five hours, because most things on social media have a pretty short shelf life,” Richer tells WIRED. “The calculation for (responding to Savela’s tweet) was that she is a political actor working with a political organization that was apparently trying to spread this to damage people’s trust in the system, so that’s why I chose to join to do.”

You may also like