Arizona House Republicans Split Over Election Integrity Bill

Arizona House Republicans Split Over Election Integrity Bill

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. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

Mail-In Voting Fraud Bill Advances to House Floor

Mail-In Voting Fraud Bill Advances to House Floor

By Corinne Murdock |

A bill to tighten up mail-in voting, SB1260, passed the House Government and Elections Committee along a party-line vote on Wednesday, 7-6. 

SB1260, introduced by State Senator J.D. Mesnard (R-Chandler), would make it a class 5 felony for someone to knowingly help another to vote who’s registered in another state. If made law, people would be required to write “not at this address” on an early ballot sent to their home but not addressed to them. There’s no penalty for not writing the phrase on the ballot. In return, county recorders would have to cancel that individual’s registration and remove their name from the Active Early Voting List (AEVL). 

Mesnard explained during the committee hearing that Arizona law doesn’t currently have standards for handling those who’ve moved, such as duplicate registrations.

Minority Leader Reginald Bolding (D-Laveen) inquired how a prosecutor would determine that an individual knew they were helping another vote fraudulently, giving an example of a parent forwarding an absentee ballot to their college student who’d established residency and registered to vote in another state. Mesnard admitted that determining that someone “knowingly” facilitated fraudulent voting was difficult to prove, emphasizing that the burden to prove that would fall on the prosecutor. 

“I don’t think it should be someone caught up in an innocent mistake,” said Mesnard.

State Representative Kevin Payne (R-Peoria) pointed out that the college student given in Bolding’s example would have to vote on the ballot for the parent’s mistake to be made apparent, and that the college student would be knowingly submitting a fraudulent vote.

State Representative Sarah Liguori (D-Phoenix) asked whether this was a real issue that occurred. Mesnard confirmed that he’d received reports of people submitting ballots to others registered in other counties.

“What does the statute say? Is the statute silent on it or does it address that? And it was silent on the issue,” said Mesnard. 

Constituents in favor of the bill included Arizona Free Enterprise Club Deputy Director Greg Blackie, agreeing with Mesnard that current statute doesn’t address this problem that mailed ballots present.

Bolding claimed that counties already have a mechanism in place to address ballots sent to the wrong address, and he argued that the ignorant might be punished for unintentionally committing a crime.

“If they are somehow convicted by a rogue prosecutor, whether they’re at the local level or state level who’s looking to make a political point or score points,” said Bolding. “In this political environment right now, I think we need to be judicious in the laws that we’re making. We need to make sure we’re taking the politics out of it, especially when it comes to the electoral process.”

Liguori concurred with Bolding’s assessment, arguing that the legislation addressed a nonexistent problem. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

Arizona House Passes Bill Barring Illegal Immigrants From Voting

Arizona House Passes Bill Barring Illegal Immigrants From Voting

By Corinne Murdock |

The Arizona House passed a bill to prevent illegal immigrants from voting, HB2492, along party lines on Monday, 31-26. The bill would impact federal-only voters heavily because that class of voters isn’t required by federal law to provide proof of citizenship. Federal-only voters had a significant impact in the 2020 election. The main exception made in this legislation would be for those who submit forms produced by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

The bill would require county recorders to rely on local, federal, and state databases to discern whether the applicant is a citizen. Refusal to comply would qualify officials for a class six felony. In the event that an applicant is discovered to be here illegally, officials must notify applicants of their rejection and refer the case to both the county attorney and attorney general for further investigation. Lack of citizenship proof, however, would only require election officials to notify the applicant of their rejection and offer them time to respond with proof of citizenship. A floor amendment removed the 30-day deadline applicants would’ve had to abide by to provide proof of citizenship.

Valid, unexpired driver’s licenses or nonoperating ID numbers would suffice for proof of location requirements to establish residency.

County recorders must also work with the secretary of state to present a list of all individuals who registered to vote and haven’t provided satisfactory evidence of citizenship by Halloween of this year. At that point, the attorney general would have until the end of next March to determine each applicant’s citizenship status and submit a report to the secretary of state, senate president, and house speaker.

As AZ Free News reported, the sponsor of the bill, State Representative Jake Hoffman (R-Queen Creek), explained in the House Government and Elections Committee last month that there were over 11,000 individuals who didn’t provide a Documentary Proof of Citizenship (DPOC) to vote in the 2020 election. By contrast, there were about 1,700 individuals who didn’t provide proof of citizenship in 2018. 

HB2492 received significant opposition from the illegal immigrant activist community. Those who harassed and stalked Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) into an Arizona State University (ASU) bathroom over her refusal to support President Joe Biden’s reconciliation bill. 

The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

State House Moves Ahead With 2 Voter Registration Bills

State House Moves Ahead With 2 Voter Registration Bills

By Terri Jo Neff |

Two bills designed to tweak Arizona’s voter registration laws had third readings in the House on Tuesday, resulting in party line votes of 31 to 28.

House Bill 2237 stipulates that a department, division, agency, or political subdivision of Arizona—or any person acting on behalf of one—may not register a person to vote on an election day and then deem that person eligible to vote in the same election. Doing so would be a Class 6 felony which carries a presumptive one-year prison sentence.

Under current law, someone seeking to register to vote must meet several criteria, such as being U.S. resident, being a resident of Arizona for 29 days before the election, and being at least 18 years of ago on or before the next election following registration.

There is also a deadline in Arizona for registering to vote – 29 days before the election.

However, some people are allowed to cast a provisional ballot on Election Day. The provisional ballot includes information for registering the person to vote going forward if it is determined the person is not already registered.

Rep. Jake Hoffman (R-LD12) introduced by HB2237 to ensure the information included with the provisional ballot is not used to register the voter until after election day. Otherwise, Arizona’s 29-day registration deadline could be circumvented.

A second bill introduced by Hoffman, HB2243 would add a simple advisory statement to all new voter registration forms. The advisory informs the person registering to vote that if they permanently move to another state after being registered in Arizona, then their Arizona voter registration will be cancelled.

Supporters of HB2243 say it will help keep Arizona’s voter database up-to-date. In addition, it would reduce the opportunity for fraud if the moved voter was on the early balloting list or lives in a community with vote-by-mail elections.

Hoffman had 11 co-sponsors on each of the two bills.

Arizona House Passes Bill Eliminating Algebra II Graduation Requirement

Arizona House Passes Bill Eliminating Algebra II Graduation Requirement

By Corinne Murdock |

Last week, the Arizona House passed a bill removing algebra II from the mathematics pathway required for high schoolers to graduate, instead offering alternative courses including personal finance, computer science, statistics, or business math. The bill, HB2278, passed mainly along party lines, with several Democrats voting in support of it: State Representatives César Chávez (D-Phoenix) and Mitzi Epstein (D-Chandler). HB2278 appeared before the Senate on Monday for a second reading.

State Representative John Fillmore (R-Apache Junction) told the House Education Committee earlier this month that he introduced the bill because high schoolers need more practical math skills. 

“We’ve been taking our kids and pushing them with more college-oriented programs such as trigonometry, algebra, and advanced algebra III. But basic math for the kids to understand, have the ability to amortize a loan, and do business discounting and understanding that sometimes 60 percent off an item in a retail store still may not be a good deal even with that 60 percent, depending on what that margin rate was when they bought it,” said Fillmore. 

State Representative Jennifer Pawlik (D-Chandler) attempted to introduce an amendment to have the State Board of Education create multiple alternative math graduation pathways, require that high school graduation pathways have two additional courses teaching algebra II critical thinking skills, and eliminate personal finance from courses suggested for the math graduation pathway. Pawlik’s amendment failed.

During the House floor vote last week, State Representative Michelle Udall (R-Mesa) asserted that, from her perspective as a math teacher, this bill would better equip high schoolers with applicable critical thinking and math skills. She read a list of algebra II standards to the floor, asking them to consider whether they were applicable to everyday life.

“We do use common sense, logic, reasoning. These are things we do need to learn, and there are several different math classes that would teach you those concepts: personal finance, business math, statistics. You’re going to learn real-world, real contexts, and ways to use math — not only to do that critical thinking and reasoning, but in a way that might be more engaging to some students,” said Udall. 

Epstein concurred with Udall’s assessment. She noted that she was disappointed Pawlik’s amendment wasn’t passed, and wished that four years of math would be required of high schoolers.

“I do think it makes sense that we want to have rigorous math, we want to have relevant math. And currently, our standards are not achieving relevant math,” said Epstein. 

In opposition to the bill, Minority Leader Reginald Bolding (D-Laveen) said that the bill would only “dumb down” the standards.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.