The claim: Post implies it’s unconstitutional for Katie Hobbs to certify the results of her own election
Former news anchor Kari Lake repeatedly called for her Democratic opponent in Arizona’s 2022 gubernatorial race, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, to recuse herself from certifying the results of her own election.
Hobbs refused, and a social media post suggested Hobbs’ refusal was unconstitutional.
“Secretary of State, Katie Hobbs, signing the certification of Katie Hobbs, for Arizona Governor. Nothing unconstitutional goings (sic) on here,” reads the image attached to a Dec. 6 Instagram posts that liked 75 times in three days (direct link, archived link).
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But the post is misleading. In Arizona, the secretary of state is responsible for certifying election results. An expert told USA TODAY there is nothing in the state or federal constitution that bars elected officials from certifying the results of their own elections, which have happened numerous times over the years.
USA TODAY reached out to the user who shared the claim for comment.
It ‘isn’t out of the ordinary’ for officials to certify their own election
According to Arizona law, one of the secretary of state’s responsibility is to “certify to the governor” election results.
Doug Spencer, a law professor at the University of Colorado, told USA TODAY the suggestion that it’s unconstitutional for a secretary of state to certify the results of their own election is “demonstrably false.”
“There’s nothing in the constitution in the state of Arizona or the US constitution that dictates with any specificity how an election is to be certified,” he said.
For example, incumbent secretaries of state in Arizona routinely certify their own reelection.
In response to the criticism, Hobbs said that her certification responsibilities did not constitute a conflict of interest and that state secretaries did not handle ballots.
Looking beyond Arizona, Spencer said it “isn’t out of the ordinary” for elected officials to be in a position to certify the results of their own elections.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp was criticized by opponents when he ran against Stacey Abrams in the 2018 gubernatorial race while he was secretary of state. Although Kemp resigned from his position after declaring victory in the election, he had resisted stepping down, and Spencer said he was under “no obligation” to do so.
more: Kari Lake claims ‘intentional misconduct’ in a lawsuit seeking to overturn the AZ governor’s race loss
In other states, secretaries of state, attorneys general and governors have certified the results of their own wins and losses. Nationally, incumbent vice presidents who seek reelection or run for president have to conduct the certification of their own election results – something that became a flash point when former Vice President Mike Pence certified the 2020 election results on Jan. 6.
PolitiFact also reported it’s common for elected officials to continue their job duties while seeking higher offices.
USA TODAY has previously debunked false claims about this year’s gubernatorial election in Arizona, including baseless assertions that the IRS donated to Hobbs’ campaign and that Lake won the race.
Our ratings: Missing context
Based on our research, we rate MISSING CONTEXT the implication that it’s unconstitutional for Hobbs to certify his own election. Under state law, the secretary of state is responsible for certifying election results, and an expert told USA TODAY it’s common for elected officials to certify their own elections.
Our fact-check sources:
Arizona State Legislature, accessed Dec. 12, ARS 41-121
Doug Spencer, Dec. 12, Phone call with USA TODAY
PolitiFact, Dec. 9, Hobbs certified Arizona’s election was typical, not ‘unconstitutional’
The Arizona Republic, Dec. 5, Katie Hobbs certifies 2022 Arizona election in ceremony at Capitol
The Arizona Republic, Nov. 6, Kari Lake wants Katie Hobbs to recuse herself from election duties. That would be outside the norm
USA TODAY, Nov. 21, 2018, Brian Kemp resigns as Georgia secretary of state
USA TODAY, Nov. 21, 2018, Georgia governor election: Democrat Stacey Abrams acknowledges defeat
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Constitution lets Katie Hobbs certify her election results