Arizona lawmakers change election laws

PHOENIX – Republican lawmakers on a Senate panel approved a series of changes in election laws Thursday amid claims they could help prevent the kind of election fraud some continue to insist occurred in 2020.

The Government Committee voted to:

  • All but eliminate the use of drop boxes which allow people to deposit their already filled-out early ballots in special receptacles, often located outside of polling locations or county offices;
  • Increase the number of precincts where random hand counts of ballots have to be conducted to compare with the machine tally;
  • Actually require those machine counts to be conducted at each of the precincts rather than have ballots taken to county election offices;
  • Require more frequent checks by election officials with the U.S. Post Office to see whether people have moved;
  • Give designated election observers more access to watch the process of things like opening up early ballot envelopes;
  • Mandate that records of felony convictions, which disqualify people from voting, be sent regularly to county recorders.

And the panel also voted to give the attorney general broad new powers not only to investigate allegations of election irregularities but to “issue all forms of subpoenas to any person, whether or not the person is located within this state.'” And with that comes the power to examine people under oath and demand documents.

All this comes just days after the same committee voted to eliminate early ballots for most Arizonans as well as get rid of early voting locations, measures that would require more people to actually take the time to go to the polls on Election Day. The measures all now require the approval of the full Senate.

The votes, all of which came along party lines in the Republican-controlled committee, came after a parade of witnesses detailed all the things they said were done wrong in the last election.

“One of the things we saw were the 700,000 (ballots) that were unverifiable,'” said Jeff Zink, who participated in what was billed as an audit conducted by Cyber Ninjas at the behest of Senate President Karen Fann (R-Prescott). “This fraud was rampant, not just in Maricopa County but across the United States as well.”

And Zink made it clear what he thought of those who did not support the bills like getting rid of drop boxes.

“If you vote against this, you're part of the problem and not part of the solution,” he told lawmakers.

Shelby Busch, who also supported SB 1058, said having drop boxes where people can cast votes makes them “ripe for ballot harvesting,” where individuals can submit multiple ballots for unrelated people despite a state law that already makes such acts a crime.

Sen. Martin Quezada (D-Glendale), who has dismissed the unverified claims of fraud in the 2020 election, said there seems to be a belief among Republicans that voting needs to be more difficult to be appreciated.

“There are many people in my community who deeply appreciate the act of voting but who also deeply appreciate the use of a drop box,'” he said.

“They are working, they are taking care of families, they are taking care of kids, they're making sure that lights are kept on every day,” Quezada said. “And this allows them to not only meet their daily obligations but also make sure their voice is heard and their vote is counted.”

But it wasn't just those who testified Thursday who had theories about fraud.

“We will get to the truth of 2020,” said Sen. Wendy Rogers (R-Flagstaff), in voting to support more random hand counts. Rogers is a key proponent of claims the election was stolen from Donald Trump and has pushed to decertify the results.

“But we will concurrently correct things that need to be fixed for 2022.”

Rogers also crafted SB 1343, which requires ballots to be counted where they are cast.

“Our research and feedback both have shown that the mischief occurs between the precinct and the county,” she said.

And Sen. Sonny Borrelli (R-Lake Havasu City) chided those who oppose changes like this.

“To say that there's nothing wrong, this was the most perfect election in Arizona history, is a myth,” he said, citing the work of the volunteers at the Cyber Ninjas audit – but not mentioning that the hand count done there not only verified that Joe Biden outpolled Donald Trump in Maricopa County, but that his margin of victory was even larger than the official tally.

“But the media wants to parade a company with a goofy name,” Borrelli said, “showing total disrespect for the people who did the work.”

And he said those volunteers “found a lot of things that needed to be fixed,” saying that evidence of problems with the chain of custody of ballots from drop boxes has been turned over to the attorney general's office.

So far, though, there have been no announcements from Attorney General Mark Brnovich of any findings of any type of fraud.

Despite that, Sen. Kelly Townsend (R-Mesa) pushed through her SB 1475, the one to give the AG's office the broad additional powers. She said the language actually came from that agency.

Sen. Warren Petersen (R-Gilbert) called what is in the bill “critical tools” the AG needs for future investigations.

Committee members also approved SB 1380 to require more frequent checks to see if people really live where they say.

Current law allows, but does not require, county recorders at least once before election years to get information from the U.S. Postal Service about address change requests. This bill not only makes it mandatory but also requires such checks on the first day of each and every month.

Barbara Jennings told lawmakers she was involved in a voluntary post-election canvass where she and others went to addresses of people who were registered to vote.

“Every apartment building we went to, that person did not live there,” she said. “They either had never heard of them or they had moved a year ago.”

And Jennings told of going to homes where people said they were receiving early ballots for people who had not lived there in years.

“The voter rolls, from everything researchers have told me, have been corrupt for almost 40 years,” said Rogers. And she said reports from those who went out on their own and canvassed neighborhoods led her to conclude there are real problems.“Dead people are voting, illegal immigrants are voting, non-residents are voting,” Rogers said. “This must stop.”

Donate Report a Typo Contact

Friends 2 Follow:

Event Calendar
Event Calendar link
Submit Event