WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., spoke on the Senate floor to condemn violence at the U.S. Capitol and respond to objections to the Congressional count of the state of Arizona’s electoral college votes for President of the United States:
I know that this room is full of leaders of both parties who love this country, and many believe that for America to succeed, our politics must find common ground.
And that has never been clearer than today, when armed rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol, emboldened by President Trump’s false and inflammatory rhetoric about the 2020 elections.
I believe that we in this Chamber have a special duty as leaders to work together to lower the temperature of our politics. And I hope that my colleagues who have questioned the legitimacy of this election in Arizona — and all of these other states — now see the dire and dangerous consequences of sowing doubt and uncertainty.
I also know that as U.S. Senators, we all take solemnly the oath we swear to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”
At this moment in history, I can think of nothing more patriotic than renewing our faith in the charters of freedom that our Founding Fathers crafted for our republic — starting with the fundamental American principle in our Declaration of Independence that governments “deriv[e] their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
The people have spoken in this election, and our only job here today is to do what they ask.
It is not to argue election security. That’s not the place for what we are doing today.
Our Constitution specifically reserves to the people the right to meet in the respective states and vote for the president and vice-president. As a result, individual states oversee and implement the election process, not the federal government.
To guard against fraud or irregularities in the voting process, the states are required to have robust election security measures.
Likewise, state legislatures have the opportunity to examine evidence of voter fraud before they certify their Electoral College votes. And our courts, from District Courts to the United States Supreme Court, adjudicate legal challenges and election disputes.
All of those things happened after the 2020 election.
Statehouses and courts across the country took allegations of voter fraud seriously and followed the constitutional process to hear challenges to this year’s elections.
No state found evidence of any widespread voter fraud, and neither did any court asked to review the states’ findings.
In Arizona, Republican Governor Doug Ducey, Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich, and State Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Brutinel all certified the results of the election on November 30th.
And we know — we have heard — Arizonans have been voting by mail for almost 30 years and Governor Ducey has expressed confidence in state’s process numerous times. In November, he said, “We do elections well here in Arizona. The system is strong, and that’s why I have bragged on it so much.” He further stated, “We have some of the strongest election laws in the country.”
Laws that prioritize accountability and clearly lay out our procedures for conducting, canvassing, and even contesting the results. And they are right. Arizona has one of the most transparent election processes in the country with built-in accountability starting with internal auditing.
We have heard unfounded allegations that voting machines in Arizona and elsewhere somehow changed vote tallies or somehow improperly rejected ballots while claiming to accept them.
These allegations all ignore the fact that Arizona counties conducted ballot audits by hand to double-check the machine counts — and these audits found no widespread fraud or irregularities. Maricopa County, the county where more than 60% of the state population resides, conducted a post-election hand-count audit in the week after the election, which showed perfect, 100% accuracy in the machine tabulations.
So why would we need, my colleagues, to call for a ten-day emergency audit to be conducted by a legislative commission when it’s already been done by the state of Arizona?
What happened to states’ rights?
The audit involved checking ballots for the presidential election, but also ballots for federal and state legislative elections. The audit report shows every precinct’s machine and hand-count the totals for each of the races audited, and for every single race and for every precinct, the difference between the hand count and the machine count was zero.
Maricopa’s audit report stated [that] “no discrepancies were found by the hand-count audit boards.”
Seeking to find any reason to contest these results, some of the state Republicans then tried to claim that Maricopa County failed to follow state law in conducting the audit by selecting voting center locations to audit instead of voting precincts.
This was wrong. And this, too, went to a court.
In rejecting this claim, the state court in Arizona found that the county followed the properly issued guidance on hand-audit procedures from the Arizona Secretary of State. And the court found that Maricopa county officials therefore could not lawfully have performed the hand-count audit the way the plaintiffs wanted it done.
If they had done so, they would have exposed themselves to criminal punishment.
I would close by just saying, please, my colleagues, do not disenfranchise the voters of Arizona and certify their votes tonight. Thank you.