By Terri Jo Neff
As the State Senate’s audit of Maricopa County’s 2020 General Election results and procedures continues, the majority of House Republicans signed a letter last week proclaiming their support of Senate President Karen Fann’s efforts.
“Each of us remains steadfast and focused on working to safeguard against potential ballot tampering, voter fraud and other voting irregularities,” the April 29 letter states. “We firmly believe our elections must be lawfully conducted under the Constitution, as well as with federal and state election law.”
The signees include Reps. Brenda Barton, Leo Biasucci, Walt Blackman, Shawna Bolick, Judy Burges, Frank Carroll, Joseph Chaplik, David Cook, Timothy Dunn, John Filmore, Mark Finchem, Travis Grantham, Jake Hoffman, Steve Kaiser, John Kavanagh, Quang Nguyen, Joanne Osborne, Jacqueline Parker, Beverly Pingerelli, Jeff Weninger, and Justin Wilmeth.
According to the letter, the representatives are “fully committed to sorting through the verified evidence” once the Senate Audit is done and the auditors’ reports are available. Then they will work “to remedy verified irregularities” with the intent to increase voter trust.
In the meantime, the signers told Fann it “is paramount” to pass other pending election integrity legislation such as SB1485, which would require all 15 counties to remove voters from the early ballot mailing list if those voters fail to utilize early voting for two full election cycles. About 207,000 voters could drop off the early ballot list, a process which does not impact a voter’s registration status.
Cleaning up the list will save counties money on printing and postage, according to SB1485 supporters, while also reducing opportunities for election misconduct by ensuring early ballots are only being sent to voters who intend to use them.
SB1485 has already cleared the House but is held up in the Senate due to a revolt in the Republican caucus by Sen. Kelly Townsend, who alleges bill sponsor Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita was responsible for “killing” more than a dozen of Townsend’s election-related bills.
The representatives’ April 29 letter was issued the same day the House voted 31 to 29 along party lines to approve SB1003, another bill sponsored by Ugenti-Rita, which will ensure counties follow the same process -and same deadline of 7 p.m. on election day- for curing early ballots received without the statutorily required signature on the voter affidavit.
Most counties reported a very small number of unsigned early ballot affidavits in the 2020 General Election, but the bill is one of several that Republicans say are necessary to promote consistency and voter confidence in election procedures used statewide.