By Corinne Murdock
A bill proposing to strengthen election integrity was withdrawn from a Senate committee this week, after passage in the House. It was introduced by State Representative Jake Hoffman (R-Queen Creek).
The bill would have prohibited any government officials from changing election-related dates, on the threat of a class 6 felony. Specifically, no state officers or agents, political subdivisions, or agencies could modify deadlines, filing dates, submission dates, or any other statutory election dates.
Class 6 felonies are the least harsh of all felonies, and may entail a year’s prison time.
The bill passed the House in a close, party-line vote 31-29.
An amendment to the bill would provide an exception to the proposed bill if a court ruling were to come into play. However, it would prohibit election officials from agreeing to modify deadlines and other election-related dates as part of a settlement agreement.
Last year, the state saw a spike of over 52,000 voters added to the rolls after an 18-day extension for voter registration. The initiative was cut short after a federal appeals court ordered the extension to end over a week early. Even with the order, the court allowed citizens a two day grace period to continue registering.
The challenge to the extension largely arose from the additional burdens that such an extension caused to local election officials. The extension would have allowed voters to register up to a little more than one week out from Election Day. In the past, election officials had nearly a month before the election to process registrants.
Currently, the state is pending an audit for the 2020 election. The audit would focus on Maricopa County, where The Senate hired four companies to review around 2.1 million Maricopa County ballots. Last November, the Senate issued subpoenas for all county ballots and voting machines for another audit. A federal judge ruled that the county didn’t have to comply with that request, since the Senate had improperly filed it.
It is unclear the reason for the bill’s withdrawal. Following the 2020 election, Hoffman was banned from Twitter and Facebook.
Corinne Murdock is a contributing reporter for AZ Free News. In her free time, she works on her books and podcasts. Follow her on Twitter, @CorinneMurdock or email tips to email@example.com.