State Rep. John Fillmore (R-Apache Junction) introduced one of the most sweeping election integrity bills this session, but it appears all but doomed due to a rare procedural maneuver deliberately made to stop it by House Speaker Rusty Bowers (R-Mesa). Bowers scheduled all 12 House committees to hear HB 2596, basically guaranteeing it will never reach the floor since some of the committees won’t bother to hear it.
“Canvass Queen” Liz Harris, so named after conducting an 11-month long independent grassroots audit of the 2020 election in Maricopa County, told The Arizona Sun Times she was extremely disappointed Bowers did this considering she is certain there was massive fraud. “From the canvassing I’ve done, this is what I realized needs to happen,” she said. She explained that other election integrity legislation is composed of single-issue bills which will only fix one area in the elections process, allowing fraud to move to other areas.
She went on, “It shouldn’t go to 12 committees — like education and transportation which have nothing to do with election integrity.” She said the problem is Bowers “does not believe that there were any election shenanigans in 2020.”
Harris spoke with Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ-05) recently, who explained this is how leadership in the Arizona Legislature kills bills it doesn’t like. When he was a state legislator, leadership did the same thing to his bill that would have required Mexico to pay for a border wall. Harris is so fed up with the situation she said she intends to run again for the Arizona Legislature. She ran previously in District 17, which is generally a Republican stronghold in the East Valley, but lost to Democrat Jennifer Pawlik.
Fillmore told The New York Times that Bowers’s tactics amounted to saying: “I am God. I control the rules. You will do what I say.” He hinted at getting Bowers removed as speaker. “I’m an old-school person. I do not go calmly. I do not go quietly,” Fillmore warned. “I believe Republican voters are solidly in line with me.”
Bowers told Capitol Media Services that he didn’t like the portions of the bill that give the Arizona Legislature the authority to approve or reject election results and that require hand counting of ballots.
Bowers has angered many Republicans by frequently siding with the Democrats. A recall petition was launched against him last year due to his refusal to call a special legislative session to audit the 2020 election for fraud. Instead, the Arizona Senate ordered an independent audit, which found there may have been massive fraud, turning the results over to Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich for possible criminal prosecution. The American Conservative Union rated Bowers only 80 last year, which is his lowest rating since he’s been in office.
HB 2596 bans most absentee ballots, requires various unique markings on ballots and state ID to vote and requires casting ballots within relatively small-sized precincts, among other provisions. Republican legislators have introduced at least 70 election integrity bills since the 2020 election, and seven passed out of the Senate Government Committee last week. A Rasmussen poll from last fall found that 56% of Americans believe it’s likely that cheating influenced the 2020 presidential election. Both Bowers and Fillmore did not respond to The Sun Times before deadline.
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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].
Background Photo “Voting Booths” by Tim Evanson. CC BY-SA 2.0.