Arizona Senate committee hears nearly a dozen bills to change election processes

A flurry of election bills are in the process of being heard in an Arizona Senate committee as the fallout from the 2020 election continues.

More than 10 election alteration bills are on the docket for the Senate’s government committee. They’re wide-ranging and address a number of claims that have not been proven to be true.

Theoretically, if the bills were to eventually become law, ballots would have highly specialized paper, banknote level security measures with holographic foil, invisible ink only seen under ultraviolet light could be on the ballot, ballot images could be available online for public record and all hyper-local mail-in ballot elections used for some cities and towns would be banned.

Those are a few of the bills that went before a Senate committee on Jan. 24.

Many in attendance carried on with myths that have since been disproved, including that the election itself was stolen. A claim that has yet to produce credible evidence.

Many of the claims either spurned on or came from the Senate authorized audit last year that confirmed President Joe Biden won and failed to produce proof of massive, widespread fraud.

Many of the bills passed along party lines – with Republicans advancing them and Democrats voting no.

Another bill before the committee, not election-related, limited the amount of time the governor could enact emergency powers as we’ve seen during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Republican Sen. Wendy Rogers remarked at the hearing, "I've heard enough concrete information here to know that we absolutely have a problem."

Democrat Sen. Martin Quezada said, "Saying that the election was stolen, that's great for a campaign speech, but it's not reality, and it's our job as members to focus on reality right here, and the reality is this is solving a problem that doesn't exist."

'I can't see this becoming law'

HB 2596 would drastically change how primary and general election days would look in Arizona.

"This seems to be a statute that the sole purpose is to make it as difficult as possible for people to vote," says Dan Barr, a constitutional attorney, about the bill that's sponsored by more than a dozen Republican Arizona House members.

One requirement of the bill calls for all ballots to be cast in person and only on election day and only if the voter has a state-issued ID. It makes voting absentee more difficult, and the bill calls for all votes to be counted by hand within 24 hours of polls closing.

Governor Doug Ducey said he has confidence in the 2020 vote and Arizona's election system.

"I've always looked for the opportunity for it to be easy to vote and hard to cheat and if there's loopholes or gaps or needed reforms that come to my desk and they're good policy, I'll sign them," Ducey said.

Barr calls the bill unrealistic and doubts it will make it out of committee.

"I can't see this becoming law but that any lawmaker would sign onto it is frightening and we should be concerned about it," he said.

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