By Corinne Murdock |
In a race against Thursday’s deadline to prevent a potential conflict between state law and the federal election calendar deadline, Republican lawmakers have advanced a proposed set of bills while Democrats have balked. It’s unlikely the bills will become law, however, as Gov. Katie Hobbs quickly rejected them as “dead on arrival.”
Republican lawmakers from both the House and Senate announced their proposed solution, two bills, on Monday afternoon; by Tuesday morning, a joint committee had advanced the bills.
In a press release, the lawmakers said that the pair of bills, SB1733 and HB2785, would provide counties with an additional 19 days in the primary election calendar and an extra 17 days in the general election calendar to comply with federal deadlines.
State Sen. Wendy Rogers (R-LD07), chair of the Senate Elections Committee, expressed hope that Hobbs would sign the legislation if passed, claiming that a refusal would cause election turmoil and voter disenfranchisement. However, Hobbs dismissed the proposal almost immediately after its release.
“This commonsense solution promises to strengthen voter confidence, is backed by all Arizona county recorders, and allows our men and women who are serving in our armed forces overseas the opportunity to cast a ballot in our elections,” said Rogers.
HB2785 sponsor State Rep. Alexander Kolodin (R-LD03) remarked that it was “highly unlikely” the feared calendar conflict would come to fruition, and that the solution was “more complicated” than some other, unnamed solutions.
“There were many simpler ways to solve this problem, some of which do not require legislative solutions,” said Kolodin. “Nevertheless, we negotiated in good faith and agreed to accept this more complicated solution in exchange for signature verification and several other commonsense reforms.”
The solution aligns with recent requests by election officials, including that of Maricopa County Supervisor Bill Gates over the weekend.
On Tuesday, both SB1733 and HB2785 passed quickly and narrowly out of a special joint meeting with the Senate Committee on Elections and the House Elections Committee. Democrats uniformly opposed the bills, while all Republicans voted for them.
Arizona House Democrats described the bills as “a Christmas tree of unrelated and controversial policy provisions” that they and, likely, Hobbs would oppose.
Arizona Senate Democrats claimed that the alleged excess provisions in the proposed legislation would disenfranchise voters and hinder ballot access.
In a joint statement issued over the weekend, Hobbs and Secretary of State Adrian Fontes clarified that the governor wouldn’t approve any bill that carried “harmful unrelated legislation.”
The contested provisions include the imposition of the state’s first signature verification standards, as well as the expansion of signature curing hours to the weekend before and after an election for those elections including federal offices.
The proposed legislation would also create a category of verified early ballots exempt from review for voters who show ID when turning in their mailed early ballot in person.
The Arizona Association of Counties gave their support for both bills during Tuesday’s committee hearing.