The Arizona State Senate Committee on Elections, chaired by Sen. 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 Sen. 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.
Republicans furious with Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers (R-Mesa), mainly over denying election fraud and blocking election integrity bills, voted him out of office earlier this month, choosing a Trump-endorsed candidate instead. Bowers lost by almost 30 points to former legislator David Farnsworth, who he was running against for Senate (Bowers was term limited in the House). Bowers spoke out about his massive loss during an interview with The Guardian.
He compared being voted out of office to “fascism.” He said, “The thought that if you don’t do what we like, then we will just get rid of you and march on and do it ourselves — that to me is fascism.” Bowers was referring to voters being upset about a multifaceted election integrity bill he killed using a technical maneuver. Among other things, HB 2596 would have given the legislature the power to reject election results, allowing an elector to call for a new election.
State House Speaker Rusty Bowers (R-Mesa) considered sending armed Department of Public Safety (DPS) officers after two conservative legislators during remarks on the State House floor, despite State Representative Jake Hoffman (R-Queen Creek) telling multiple members of House leadership and their staff that there would not be enough legislators present for a vote on Tuesday to hear election integrity bills.
“This is sadly just another in a long list of examples of systematically failed leadership and near-total dysfunction in the House under Rusty Bowers,” Hoffman told The Arizona Sun Times. “Leadership knew full well they would not have the votes to pass partisan bills, yet they chose to play games with one of the most important issues facing our state – election integrity. Any claim that leadership was unaware they would be missing votes is at best pure fiction, and at worst intentionally misleading.”
A couple of Republican legislators have been holding up election integrity bills from passing this year, but there was plenty of groundwork made last year. The Arizona Legislature pushed hard to get 11 of these bills passed in 2021, in large part due to concern there was fraud in the 2020 presidential election. So far this year, Gov. Doug Ducey has only signed one election integrity bill into law.
Along with a list of last year’s successful bills provided to Republican Briefs, State Sen. Vince Leach (R-Tucson) said, “For those of you who think that our legislature did nothing for election security, here are the actual bills passed this [past] session. … The rest will have to wait until we have a larger majority.”
Republican State Senators Paul Boyer (R-Glendale) and Michelle Ugenti-Rita (R-Scottsdale) defeated several key election integrity bills in the Arizona Legislature as the only Republicans siding with Democrats. Republicans have a one-seat majority in the Senate, and since Boyer has angered Republicans for frequently voting with the Democrats against bills and thwarting election integrity efforts, he will not be seeking a third term after this year’s session. Former President Donald Trump endorsed former State Rep. Anthony Kern (R-Glendale), a champion of election integrity, to replace him.
SB 1055, sponsored by State Sen. Kelly Townsend (R-Apache Junction), made any contractor who failed to provide election services or products guilty of a class 2 misdemeanor and liable for liquidated damages of the amount of the contract. Boyer was the only Republican to oppose it.
The Arizona Legislature has voted to send the Arizonans for Voter ID Act to the ballot as a proposition this fall, and 15 more election integrity bills have passed the Arizona House. The Arizonans for Voter ID Act was initially launched as a citizens’ initiative by the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, which would have required 237,645 valid signatures to get on the ballot. SCR 1012, which passed along party lines, bypasses that time-consuming and often difficult process.
State Senator Kelly Townsend (R-Apache Junction), told the Arizona Sun Times, “Today the Senate Republican caucus met to discuss which bills they can support. We were able to get through much of what we have been proposing and received support from nearly all the members with two absent and not weighing in. I’m excited to see good election reform moving forward, ideas that will fortify election security so that voters can feel more secure about their votes. Bills deal with securing technology, ballot paper, chain of custody, removing drop boxes, improving signature verification, cleaning of the voter rolls, and many other items that we are looking to fix.”