Arizona legislators are busy dropping bills to address election fraud this session, due to concerns there was massive fraud in the 2020 presidential election. State Rep. John Fillmore (R-Apache Junction) is sponsoring one of the most sweeping bills, HB 2596, which makes substantial changes to elections including giving the Arizona Legislature the final say on approving elections, eliminating most voting by mail, and requiring hand counting of ballots.
Fillmore explained the need for significant reform during a committee hearing.
“I don’t care what the press says,” he said. “I don’t trust ABC, CBS, NBC or Fox or anybody out there. Everybody’s lying to me and I feel like I have a couple hundred ex-wives hanging around me. This is not a President Biden thing. This is not the other red-headed guy thing. We should have voting in my opinion in person, one day, on paper, with no electronic means and hand counting that day. We need to get back to 1958-style voting.”
Under his bill, absentee ballots would be restricted to people who are physically out of the state on the day of the election, including those in the armed services and overseas voters and their families, those in a hospital or nursing home, and the visually impaired.
All tabulation of ballots will be done by hand, with ballots segregated by precinct and kept sorted that way after tabulation. Counting must be finished within 24 hours after the polls close.
Another significant change places the Arizona Legislature in charge of approving or rejecting the results of elections. The legislature is given authority to conduct an audit if desired.
One provision states that ballots must include a hologram, sequential marking or similar type of ballot security markings, and each one must be uniquely marked or numbered.
Voters would be required to cast their ballots within their precincts, disallowing general drop boxes and centralized centers. Precincts are limited in size to 1,500 voters or less.
State-issued identification is required, and voting may only be conducted on voting day. Finally, the bill includes a ban on mask or COVID-19 vaccine requirements at polling and tabulation locations for both voters and workers.
It will be very close whether the bill makes it into law. Republicans have such a narrow majority in the House and Senate that just one Republican defector means defeat if there is no Democrat support. In the Senate, Paul Boyer (R-Glendale) often votes against his own party, and told The Arizona Republic that he intends to vote against at least two of the election integrity bills this session, one that bans mail elections for cities and schools and another that requires counties to use special security paper for ballots.
In the House, Speaker Rusty Bowers (R-Mesa) also frequently goes against his party. He disagreed with conducting the Senate’s independent ballot audit of the presidential election in Maricopa County.
Boyer is not seeking reelection in 2022, some believe due to polling showing he would lose to Anthony Kern, a former legislator who has decided to run again. Kern is endorsed by Trump, and Senate President Karen Fann (R-Prescott) threw a fundraiser for him. It’s a rare occurrence for Republican leadership to get involved in primary races.
If Fillmore’s bill doesn’t make it through, another sweeping election integrity law may find its way into law by going around the legislature. The Arizona Free Enterprise Club is collecting signatures to get the Arizonans for Voter ID Act on the ballot later this year. It requires voter ID on mailed-in ballots, enhances the requirement for dropped-off ballots, and improves in-person voting ID requirements.
HB 2596 has 13 co-sponsors in the House and two in the Senate. Fillmore was one of just seven Arizona legislators to receive a perfect score from the Arizona Free Enterprise Club for his record during the 2021 legislative session.
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Rachel Alexander is a reporter at The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Rachel on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “John Fillmore” by Arizona State Legislature. Background Photo “Election Day 2020” by Phil Roeder. CC BY 2.0.