A Phoenix judge on Friday sentenced a woman to two years of probation, fines and community service for voting her dead mother’s ballot in Arizona in the 2020 general election.
But the judge rejected a prosecutor’s request that she serve at least 30 days in jail because she lied to investigators and demanded that they hold those who commit voter fraud accountable.
The case against Tracey Kay McKee, 64, is one of just a handful of voter fraud cases from the Arizona election in 2020 that have led to charges, despite widespread belief among many supporters of former President Donald Trump that there was widespread voter fraud , which led to his losses in Arizona and other battlefield states.
McKee, who was from the Phoenix suburb of Scottsdale but now lives in California, sobbed as she apologized to Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Margaret LaBianca before the judge handed down her sentence. McKee said she mourned the loss of her mother and did not intend to influence the outcome of the election.
“Your Honor, I want to apologize,” McKee told LaBianca. “I do not want to apologize for my behavior. What I did was wrong and I am prepared to accept the consequences that the court has given.”
Both McKee and her mother, Mary Arendt, were registered Republicans, though she was not asked if she voted for Trump. Arendt died on October 5, 2020, two days before the early vote was sent to voters.
Assistant Attorney General Todd Lawson played a tape of McKee that was interviewed by an investigator in his office, where she said there was widespread election fraud and denied that she had signed and returned her mother’s ballot paper.
“The only way to prevent voter fraud is by physically going in and casting a ballot,” McKee told investigators. “I think voter fraud will definitely be widespread as long as there is postal voting. I think there is no way to ensure a fair election.
“And I do not believe this was a fair choice,” she continued. “I think there was a lot of voter fraud.”
Tom Henze, McKee’s attorney, pointed to dozens of voter fraud cases prosecuted in Arizona over the past decade, many for similar violations of voting for someone else’s ballot, and said no one was jailed in those cases. He said agreeing with Lawson that McKee should be sentenced to 30 days in prison would raise constitutional issues of justice.
“Simply put, over a long period of time, in voluminous cases, 67 cases, none in this state for similar cases, in similar contexts … no one got jail time,” Henze said. “The court did not impose a prison sentence at all.”
But Lawson said jail time was important because the type of case has changed. While in recent years, most cases involved people voting in two states because they either lived in or owned property in both states, people had by the 2020 election bought into Trump’s allegations of widespread voter fraud.
“What we hear is that voter fraud is out there,” Lawson told the judge. “And what we’re basically seeing here is someone saying ‘Well, I want to commit voter fraud because it’s a big problem, and I just want to slip under the radar. And I want to do it because everyone others do, and I can get away with it. ‘
“I do not subscribe to it at all,” he said. “And I think the attitude you hear in the interview is the attitude that sets this case apart from the other cases.”
LaBianca said that even if she agreed with Lawson, jail time would give McKee what she told the investigator what she wanted: to go after people who committed voter fraud.
“And if there was evidence that this crime was on the rise and that increased deterrence may be required, the court could order jail time,” LaBianca said. “But the journal here does not show that this crime is on the rise.
“And however disgusting it may be for a person like the accused to attack the legitimacy of our free choice without evidence, other than your own deception, then such statements are not illegal as far as I know,” the judge continued.