Senate Elections Committee Pushes Through Bills Attempting to Strengthen Arizona’s Elections

The Arizona State Senate Elections Committee, chaired by State Senator Wendy Rogers (R-Flagstaff), convened Monday to discuss several proposed Senate bills (SB) to strengthen Arizona’s elections. One of those, SB 1265, sponsored by State Senator Anthony Kern (R-Glendale), presumptively restricts the implementation of a ranked choice voting (RCV) system in Arizona.

“To me, there enough questions out there, as you guys [the committee] have probably heard for the last three or four hours, on our current elections system without muddying the waters even more with a ranked choice voting,” said Kern while speaking at the meeting.

RCV allows voters to vote for multiple candidates for one office by ranking them in order of preference. A candidate must achieve over 50 percent of the vote to be declared the winner. The candidate who received the least “first choice” votes is eliminated if no one has the majority. Anyone who puts that candidate as their “first choice” gets their vote reassigned to their second choice candidate. The process continues until one candidate has the most votes.

Kern told the committee he hoped this bill would stop the push for it in the state. If SB 1265 became law, it would prohibit any voting method requiring ranking or eliminating candidates and declare only the candidate with the most legal votes can be declared the winner in Arizona.

“I think the most powerful argument against ranked choice voting is that, in the end, it lets people who pick losers pick the winner, and that’s absurd,” said committee member John Kavanaugh (R-Fountain Hills) while explaining his yes vote. “We have a nice system right now that has stood the test of history almost everywhere in the world.”

SB 1141

Another of the 11 bills discussed was SB 1141 from State Senator Jake Hoffman (R-Queen Creek). His bill outlines that anyone who delivers their early ballot to a voting center on Election Day must provide identification when dropping the ballot off, just like what is required for in-person voting.

Additionally, if someone is bringing an early ballot to drop off for someone else, that person must show ID and assert in writing that they are the voter’s “family member, household member or caregiver.” Any violation of this bill would result in a class 5 felony.

“This one really shouldn’t be controversial,” Hoffman said. “We require ID to check-in. We require ID for many things in society. This would simply add the requirement when you are dropping off an early ballot.”

However, State Senator Priya Sundareshan (D-Tucson) expressed concerns that adding another step to the ballot drop-off process could create long lines on Election Day. In response, Hoffman said it would be up to the counties to decide how to mitigate this issue. Moreover, he said that voters could still choose to mail in their early ballots and avoid lines altogether.

SB 1264

Furthermore, SB 1264, sponsored by Stae Senator J.D. Mesnard (R-Chandler), targets political action committees (PACs). Notably, the bill would prohibit any election officer or a person who “oversees any significant aspect of election operations” from being the chair, treasurer, or member of a PAC.

“This is pretty self-explanatory. Those involved in our elections, it presents a conflict of interests when you are also trying to influence those elections through a political action committee,” Mesnard said.

As reported by The Arizona Sun Times, Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer founded the Pro-Democracy PAC to support Republican candidates who accepted the results of the 2020 election.

Mesnard spoke on Richer during the meeting, stating that while Richer could promote the PAC under his free speech rights, this bill would prevent him from being a participant. He also clarified that this bill would not apply to poll workers.

All three bills passed the committee on partisan lines by a five-to-three vote.

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Neil Jones is a reporter for The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Neil on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Wendy Rogers” by Arizona State Senate Republican Caucus. Photo “Anthony Kern” by Anthony Kern. Photo “Jake Hoffman” by Arizona State Legislature. Photo “J.D. Mesnard” by J.D. Mesnard. Background Photo “Election Day” by Phil Roeder. CC BY 2.0.





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4 Thoughts to “Senate Elections Committee Pushes Through Bills Attempting to Strengthen Arizona’s Elections”

  1. […] Arizona’s elections. The Senate Elections Committee has met three times this session to pass bills and hear testimony alleging errors in Arizona’s previous elections that the Legislature should […]

  2. Cathy

    Baby steps. One must remember that Hobbs will veto what doesn’t work for her and the Left.

  3. John Kracht

    Ranked choice voting has not worked well in Alaska and we DO NOT need more Democrat mischief here in Arizona.

  4. These bills are so insubstantial as to be useless. Arizona has had two recent elections not only questioned, making Arizona’s elections a laughing stock, but FACTS determined those elections were not valid and that voting was suppressed, especially in Maricopa Country, and this is all the legislature can do to address that? Arizona citizen biometric VOTER ID must be implemented to secure our elections; no driver’s license may be used as proof of citizenship to vote; mail-in ballots must be severely restricted as in Europe; and hand counts of all ballots must happen. Eliminate all voting MACHINES; and every voter is given a copy of their vote in order to have receipt to verify that vote.