PHOENIX - Arizona's election results were certified on Nov. 30 by Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, formalizing Democrat Joe Biden’s narrow victory over Donald Trump even as the Republican president’s attorneys continued making baseless claims of fraud in the state’s vote count.
Hobbs certified the results at a news conference alongside Governor Doug Ducey, Attorney General Mark Brnovich, and Chief Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court Robert Brutinel.
"Other states explored and experimented with election day, Arizona did not," Ducey said. "If you recall, there was talk about not having Election Day voting, some suggested canceling it. In Arizona, we said no thank you. We are going to have Election Day. This is America and no voter should be disenfranchised. Thanks to the hard work of our election workers, we preserved Election Day."
Biden, Kelly secure victory
With the certification, President-elect Joe Biden has secured Arizona's 11 electoral votes. Biden is only the second Democrat in 70 years to win Arizona.
In the final tally, Biden won by 10,457 votes, 0.3 percent of the nearly 3.4 million ballots cast. 11 Democratic electors will meet Dec. 14 to formally pledge Arizona’s electoral votes to Biden.
The certification also paves the way for Democrat Mark Kelly to take his seat in the U.S. Senate, formalizing his victory in a special election to finish the last two years of the term of John McCain, who died in 2018. Kelly is scheduled to be sworn in on Wednesday in Washington.
Recreational marijuana legalized
During the November election, Arizona voters also chose to make recreational marijuana legal in the state by passing Proposition 207. With the certification, recreational marijuana is officially legalized in Arizona.
As a result of the vote, 13 out of 15 county attorneys in Arizona are dropping criminal cases relating to marijuana, or putting marijuana prosecutions on pause. In Maricopa County, there are roughly 6,000 cases with charges that will be affected by Prop 207.
Attorney Josh Black explains what's next with recreational marijuana as it becomes legalized.
"Once that's certified, technically it’s the law of the land and it would be in effect, at least a part. But there are certain parts of the prop that will take time, but theoretically, things like a criminal aspect or any type of criminal offense that would be related to marijuana will no longer be in place ...," said Black.
He explains further, "If you have a previous marijuana conviction, that is something that would have to go through the formal expungement process which should be available starting about mid next year."
Although marijuana will become legal, it is still illegal to drive under the influence, just like with alcohol.
"That’s something that officers won’t have too much difficulty in doing. The idea would be proving the impairment and that might be a little bit more difficult and it would be based on the officer's testimony and his training to say, 'This is what I observed and this is what made me concerned that this person was impaired."
Does the prop's passage mean Arizonan's are free and clear to use marijuana without punishment? Well, not exactly.
"People need to pay attention to the limits of the new initiative," said cannabis attorney, Tom Dean.
He says regardless of the law, employer policies will still be enforced. That means if you get drug tested, you still have to play by the rules.
“You’re very likely gonna lose your job. There aren’t any protections in 207 specifically for employees, so an employer could take adverse action against someone who tests positive," Dean explained.
That’s why Dean is recommending people not to toss out their medical marijuana cards just yet as medical marijuana patients are afforded some protection.
He explained, “Since it’s a medicine, there are protections for people so they don’t lose their job because it’s a medicine and doctor approved. As long as they’re not in possession at the workplace or impaired on the job, they can test positive for THC and an employer can’t take action against them.”
For more information on the legalization of marijuana in Arizona, visit this link.
Trump, GOP officials criticize Gov. Ducey
Not long after the certification, President Donald Trump took jabs at Ducey on Twitter, agreeing with a tweet saying he's betrayed the people of Arizona. Ducey made a series of tweets defending Arizona's voting process.
Kelli Ward, the chairperson of the Arizona Republican Party, also criticized Gov, Ducey on Twitter. In a reply to an election-themed tweet made by Ducey, Ward wrote "#STHU #ElectionIntegrity is missing in Arizona."
According to dictionary.com, STHU is an internet acronym that means "shut the hell up."
Unfounded allegation of voter fraud persist
Elections challenges brought by the Trump campaign or his backers in key battleground states have largely been unsuccessful as Trump continues to allege voter fraud while refusing to concede.
There is no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election. In fact, election officials from both political parties have stated publicly that the election went well and international observers confirmed there were no serious irregularities.
Last week, a judge in Phoenix rejected the Arizona Republican Party’s bid to postpone the certification of election results in Maricopa County and dismissed the party’s legal challenge that sought a new audit of a sampling of ballots.
Lawyers for the state GOP were scheduled to be in court again Monday to argue for a fresh challenge of the verification process for mail ballots.
"All of these allegations that have been swirling since Election Day itself," said Secretary of State Katie Hobbs. "There have been no irregularities, as claimed. No voter fraud. Everything has been done according to state law. I think this is really just a fishing expedition and people grasping at straws again because they don't like the results."
Even as state officials certified the results, Trump’s lawyers, Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis, held a meeting at a downtown Phoenix hotel to lay out claims of irregularities in Arizona’s vote count. But they did not provide evidence of widespread fraud.
Nine Republican lawmakers attended the hearing, which was expected to last for several hours. They had requested permission to hold a formal legislative hearing at the Capitol but were denied by the House speaker and Senate president.
As votes were being certified on Nov. 30, a group gathered at the State Capitol parking lot in protest.
"It's not over," Karen Fay of Kingman said.
"When will it be over?" Fay was asked.
"When Trump is sworn in for a second term," Fay replied.
Members of the protest group pledge to continue the fight to have the election results overturned. Members of the group also say they are still donating to the Trump campaign.
"I don't like that they keep asking for money after I just gave them money, but yea, I gave them some this weekend," said one of the protesters.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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