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Mark Finchem voted by mail 28 times between the 2004 general election and 2020, his voting history file from Pima County, Arizona, shows.
Finchem submitted paperwork in 2008 to join a list of voters who are automatically sent a mail ballot for every election. In April 2022, he submitted a new voter registration form and checked a box indicating that he did not want to be on the early voting list. He voted in person in the 2022 primary.
Finchem told CBS that voting by mail is convenient, but he no longer trusts voting by mail. In a Sept. 22 debate, he said, “I don’t care for mail-in voting.”
Republican Arizona secretary of state candidate Mark Finchem has pushed for state laws that would take away the right of most Arizonans to cast a mail ballot. But he has voted by mail dozens of times.
During a debate with his Democratic rival Adrian Fontes, the moderator asked Finchem whether he approves of mail-in voting.
"I don’t care for mail-in voting," Finchem said Sept. 22. "That’s why I go to the polls."
But that’s not what public records show about Finchem’s voting history. Since the 2004 general election, Finchem voted by mail in 28 out of 30 elections.
We put Finchem’s statement on PolitiFact’s Flip-O-Meter, which evaluates whether a politician has flip-flopped, and to what extent. The Flip-O-Meter does not make a value judgment on such shifts, but seeks to document them. Some voters may agree with a politician’s shift on a stance while others may see it as a sign of inconsistency.
Finchem’s voting history was first reported by local news. We confirmed his mail voting record by reaching out to the Pima County recorder’s office, which sent us records showing Finchem’s voting history file and confirmed his voter registration history.
Finchem, a Tucson resident, registered to vote in Arizona in 2000 after moving from Michigan. In 2008, Finchem submitted paperwork to sign up for the permanent early voting list, which meant that he would be mailed a ballot for every election.
That’s how things stood until April 1, 2022, when Finchem submitted a new voter registration form and marked the box indicating he did not want to be on the permanent early voting list.
Finchem’s voting history showed that between the general election 2004 and 2020, Finchem voted by mail 28 times. (The records show a caveat about one of those elections: in 2019 a local election was entirely held by mail.)
Ballots were mailed to his home address in Oro Valley in Pima County from 2010 to 2020. Prior to that, they were sent to a different Arizona address, but we were unable to confirm why. During some years, records show Finchem called election officials to request a mail ballot even though he was already on the list to automatically get one.
The only election during that period that Finchem did not vote early was a Tucson city election in 2007, Pima records show.
In this year’s August primary, Finchem voted in person.
We contacted Finchem’s state legislative office about why he repeatedly voted by mail. Someone there directed us to his Oct. 5 interview with Ed O’Keefe at CBS. In it, Finchem told CBS that he voted by mail because "it was convenient" but that "I just don’t know if it is accurate or trustworthy."
When asked why he no longer trusts mail voting, Finchem said he had seen photographs of "over 100 ballots" strewn along a roadside in Buckeye.
"I want to make sure my vote counts," Finchem said, who urged the public to vote in person. "If somebody wants to continue to vote by mail, vote by mail."
The Arizona Mirror reported in 2020 that a state senator in Buckeye posted a photo on Facebook of eight early ballots, along other pieces of mail, that her husband found near her house.
Finchem, who was near the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, is a member of the America First Secretary of State Coalition, which lists eliminating mail-in ballots among its goals. During a July campaign speech, Finchem said, "I don’t believe in mail-in ballots at all. That’s where the fraud happens." He co-sponsored a bill in 2022 to eliminate the active early voting list, but it didn’t pass.
There are multiple pieces of evidence showing that the 2020 presidential election was secure. A review of ballots cast in Maricopa County confirmed that Joe Biden won, and courts rejected allegations of fraud or attempts to deny certification for Biden. Republican Gov. Doug Ducey said Arizona has several laws to deliver secure elections, including checking signatures on mail ballots.
Voting by mail has been popular with Arizona voters for decades. About three of every four residents in Arizona are on the list to get a mail ballot every cycle. Arizona voters can track the status of their mail ballot online to confirm it was received and counted. Maricopa County voters can sign up for text or email notifications about the status of their ballot.Early in-person voting and voting by mail started in Arizona on Oct. 12.
Finchem said, "I don’t care for mail-in voting. That’s why I go to the polls."
His words defy his own voting history. Finchem signed up for a list to automatically get a mail ballot in every election in 2008 and did not remove himself from that list until this past April. During that period, he voted by mail 28 times.
We rate his position a Full Flop.
PolitiFact researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report.
Arizona PBS, Clip of Arizona secretary of state debate, Sept. 22, 2022
CBS, Interview with State Rep. Mark Finchem, Oct. 5, 2022
Fourth Estate 48, Mark Finchem's voter file shows he votes by mail, Oct. 5, 2022
New York Times, Trump-Backed Conspiracy Theorist Vies to Take Over Arizona Elections, Aug. 1, 2022
Arizona Secretary of State, Voting by mail, accessed Oct. 13, 2022
Maricopa County Elections Department, Track your ballot, accessed Oct. 13, 2022
Pima County Recorder, Mark Finchem’s voting history file, 2004-2022
Email interview, Michael Truelsen, Pima County recorder’s office spokesperson, Oct. 12, 2022
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