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'Looks like a felony': Elections expert says Kari Lake may have gone too far by tweeting voter signatures

Secretary of State Adrian Fontes asks attorney general to investigate whether Lake broke the law. Her attorney slams request as 'shameful'

PHOENIX — For almost three months, Kari Lake has refused to accept her defeat in the Arizona governor's race.

But now Lake may have gone too far - with a tweet.

Arizona's top elections officer, Democratic Secretary of State Adrian Fontes, has asked Democratic Attorney General Kris Mayes to investigate whether Lake broke the law by posting 16 voter signatures in an image she tweeted last week.

"Arizona statute is very clear about when and where a voter signature can be shared or replicated or reproduced, or put online or used in social media," said Tammy Patrick, chief executive for programs at the National Association of Election Administrators and a former Maricopa County elections official

"The answer to all of those things basically is, 'Never' and 'Not' and  'It can't be,' with very few exceptions."

12News has blurred the signatures in images and videos.

Patrick's opinion of the Lake tweet:  "When I read the law, it looks to me like that's a felony."

Under Arizona law, "The records containing a voter's signature...shall not be accessible or reproduced by any person other than the voter."

A violation of the law is a Class 6 felony that could carry jail time. 

"It is my responsibility to protect Arizona voters," Fontes said in a statement. "In keeping with my duties, I have referred this matter to the attorney general."

Through a spokesman, Mayes declined to comment.

Lake's lawyer: 'Shameful, disgusting'

Lake's attorney responded that she had a First Amendment right to post the signatures. 

"Adrian Fontes selectively quotes the statute in an attempt to distort the law and smear Kari Lake in the process," attorney Tim La Sota said.  

"Kris Mayes should immediately say that she will have no part in this shameful, disgusting effort."

What we know about the tweet

On Jan. 23, Lake tweeted an image under the headline "BOMBSHELL DISCOVERY."

The image shows 16 signatures - on early ballot envelope affidavits and voter registrations - from eight voters. The tweet claims, "40,000 ballots illegally counted."

But the tweet wasn't a bombshell.

The claim wasn't substantiated.

Eight of the voter signatures that Lake posted were from early-ballot affidavits in the 2020 presidential election; the other eight were from voter registration records. 

Impact on election integrity

Maricopa County provided the images of the ballot-envelope affidavits in 2021 to Senate Republicans' partisan review of the county's election results. It's unclear how the voter registration signatures were obtained.

"Having signatures being promoted and presented online and other places actually does great harm to the potential integrity of the outcome of an election," Patrick said.

"That's why these these laws are in place - to protect voters and protect the integrity of the system."

Signatures widely promoted

The signature images were presented publicly in late 2021 by Republican Sen. Sonny Borrelli, who has denied the results of the 2020 and '22 elections. 

In the last two weeks, the images have been presented to the state Senate Elections Committee by a group called We the People, which has received funding from Mike Lindell and Patrick Byrne. 

Lindell and Byrne have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to promote the falsehood that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump. 

Lindell has helped fund a Lake's lawsuit. Byrne was the major funder of the Cyber Ninjas "audit" in Arizona and attended Lake's rally Sunday.

Lake appealing courtroom defeat

Lake, a Republican former TV news anchor, lost the gubernatorial race to Democrat Katie Hobbs by 17,000 votes. Hobbs was sworn in as governor Jan. 2. 

Lake is appealing a lower court ruling that threw out all 10 of her claims seeking to overturn the election.

She held the rally under the banner of the Save Arizona Fund, whose apparent purpose is to pay her legal bills and perhaps fund a future campaign.

RELATED: Arizona's lawyers: Lake challenge of governor's loss lacks merit

Arizona Politics 

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