Fake electors try to deliver Arizona's 11 votes for Trump

Ronald J. Hansen
Arizona Republic

In another sign of the lingering unrest over President Donald Trump's election loss, an Arizona group sent the National Archives in Washington, D.C., notarized documents last week intended to deliver, wrongly, the state's 11 electoral votes for him.

Copies of the documents obtained by The Arizona Republic show a group that claimed to represent the "sovereign citizens of the Great State of Arizona" submitted signed papers casting votes for what they want: a second term for Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

Mesa resident Lori Osiecki, 62, helped created a facsimile of the "certificate of ascertainment" that is submitted to formally cast each state's electoral votes as part of an effort to prevent what she views as the fraudulent theft of the election.

"We seated before the legislators here. We already turned it in. We beat them to the game," she said.

IT'S OFFICIAL: Arizona's electors cast state's 11 votes for President-elect Joe Biden

Osiecki said she and others associated with a group called "AZ Protect the Vote" have attended the postelection rallies protesting the results, including the daylong meeting in Phoenix that included Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani. She left that gathering upset that Gov. Doug Ducey wasn't supporting the president's efforts and she wanted to take further action. She and the others chose electors as a result.

"One thing I will say about conservatives, is if something is wrong, and we have lost — a true loss — then we accept," she said. "We're not going to drag people through the mud and fight it. But this clearly has got issues. I saw it with my own eyes and my own research. After that hearing, I was shocked we didn't have any other marching orders."  

The 11 electors actually chosen by Arizona voters last month — meeting in an unpublicized location because of security concerns over their task — cast their votes Monday for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, formalizing the Democrats' victory nationally and in the state.

While Osiecki's elector documents do not appear to have been taken as genuine, they are part of a weekslong effort, led by Trump, his advisers, and involving Arizona Republican Party officials and three members of Arizona's GOP congressional delegation casting doubt on the legitimacy of Biden's victory in Arizona and nationally.

Reps. Andy Biggs and Debbie Lesko were among more than 100 Republican members of Congress to formally support a lawsuit brought by the attorney general of Texas seeking to overturn the results in four states where Biden won. The U.S. Supreme Court quickly dismissed the effort.

Rep. Paul Gosar has been a vocal supporter of the "Stop the Steal" effort seeking to similarly overturn the results based on baseless claims of widespread fraud. He also has encouraged people to sign on to an effort to recall Gov. Doug Ducey, who certified the election results showing Biden winning Arizona.

On Monday, White House adviser Stephen Miller said on Fox News that alternate electors for selected states would be casting votes for Trump. Arizona was not named as among them, and there was no indication the fake electors were connected to that effort.

"As we speak today, an alternate slate of electors in the contested states is going to vote, and we're going to send those results up to Congress," Miller said. "This will ensure that all of our legal remedies remain open."

Arizona's ersatz electors sent their choices using documents notarized by Melanie Hunsaker, who works in real estate. Her husband, Jamie Hunsaker, is a Trump enthusiast and one of the purported electors.

Donald Paul Schween, another would-be elector, has been active in Republican Party politics.

Federico Buck, another real estate veteran, is among the signatories. Others include Cynthia Franco, Sarai Franco, Stewart A. Hogue, Carrie Lundell, Christeen Taryn Moser, Danjee J. Moser, Jessica Panell and Peter Wang. Osiecki attested to the group's eligibility as electors.

It was not immediately clear if the group's effort broke any state or federal laws. 

Arizona sketches out a series of criminal charges relating to voting and election fraud, but those mostly appear to mostly deal with casting regular ballots or tallying the ballots. 

It also has a provision for making, possessing or presenting what are known as forged instruments with an intent to defraud. That is a felony offense.  

The federal government has broad authority to prosecute what it deems mail fraud, although it is more often used to target financial crimes. There is a provision in the mail fraud statutes for depriving people of what are known as "honest services."

Osiecki said she wants the archivist in Washington to count her group's electoral choices. She thinks the nation's election integrity is riding on it.

"I've never been in politics before," she said. "I'm not crazy. I'm just a person who feels like there's a problem here. We're at that (1776) moment here. It's the little people who are going to matter. You can't sit on the sidelines anymore."

Reach the reporter Ronald J. Hansen at ronald.hansen@arizonarepublic.com or 602-444-4493. Follow him on Twitter @ronaldjhansen.

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