By Corinne Murdock |
Republican legislators expressed displeasure with a bill brought forth by State Senator Paul Boyer (R-Glendale) to require county recorders to publicize the total number of early ballots returned to voting locations on election day — 14 of 31 Republicans voting against it. Effectively, House Republicans were divided in half on the issue.
One of the first legislators to express their disapproval of the bill was State Representative John Fillmore (R-Apache Junction). He said that Arizona had passed three historic election integrity bills and failed 14 others, 13 of which he blamed on Boyer. Fillmore said the bill was an insult to Arizona voters.
“This bill doesn’t do a darn thing but insult our caucus, the state of Arizona, and the Republic,” said Fillmore. “This is a bill that should’ve never been brought to the floor.”
The bill, SB1329, passed with some bipartisanship. 15 Republicans joined 22 Democrats to pass the bill. In addition to Fillmore, State Representatives Brenda Barton (R-Payson), Leo Biasiucci (R-Lake Havasu City), Walt Blackman (R-Snowflake), Judy Burges (R-Skull Valley), Neal Carter (R-Queen Creek), Joseph Chaplik (R-Scottsdale), Mark Finchem (R-Oro Valley), Teresa Martinez (R-Oro Valley), Kevin Payne (R-Peoria), Beverly Pingerelli (R-Peoria), and Justin Wilmeth (R-Phoenix) voted against the bill.
Democrats expressed wholehearted support for the bill. State Senator Lorenzo Sierra (D-Avondale) claimed that belief that the 2020 election was rigged in favor of President Joe Biden was the biggest lie of all time. Sierra’s assertion elicited groans from those around him, provoking him to insist that Fillmore instigated him.
“I support this bill because it attacks the greatest lie ever told in the course of human history,” said Sierra. “[Fillmore] started it, it’s going, I vote yes!”
State Senator John Kavanagh (R-Fountain Hills) made light of Fillmore’s ire, remarking that his colleague’s vote against the bill seemed to inspire all Democrats to support it. His comment stoked laughter around the room.
“I wanted to thank Representative Fillmore for discovering a new, secret weapon for the Republicans. Apparently if he votes against an election integrity bill, every Democrat votes for it, which is absolutely amazing,” said Kavanagh with a laugh.
As an explanation of her “no” vote, Martinez simply referenced the recent documentary on widespread mail-in ballot fraud in the 2020 election, “2000 Mules” from conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza.
“2000 Mules. And with that, I vote no,” stated Martinez.
Minority Leader Reginald Bolding (D-Laveen) insisted that the bill was a common-sense policy that offered transparency to voters concerning the number of ballots cast and counted in real time.
“This gives many of the unfounded issues that we saw during the 2020 election when people asserted that there were somehow additional ballots that were out there, floating, that were being added to support candidates or another,” said Bolding.
SB1329 now heads to Governor Doug Ducey for approval.