Bill Restricting Foreign Funding Of Arizona Elections Receives Bipartisan Support

Bill Restricting Foreign Funding Of Arizona Elections Receives Bipartisan Support

By Daniel Stefanski |

A bill to restrict foreign funding of Arizona elections is attracting some bipartisan support in this legislative session.

Earlier this week, the Senate Elections Committee passed SB 1374, which “requires a person to provide certification that the person is not the knowing recipient of foreign donations before entering into any agreement with a government entity to provide goods or services relating to elections administration.”

According to the fact sheet provided by the Arizona Senate, a ‘person’ is defined as “an individual, candidate, corporation or other entity or committee as prescribed by statute.”

The elections-related proposal, which was introduced by Senator Shawnna Bolick, passed the committee with a 6-2 vote. One Democrat, Senator Flavio Bravo, voted for the legislation in the committee.

In a statement to AZ Free News, Bolick said, “SB 1374 is a bill in support of free, fair, and transparent elections. Leading up to the 2020 elections, billionaires and big tech played an outsized influence in Arizona’s elections. In 2021, the Arizona legislature passed a law prohibiting election offices from receiving private monies for preparing, administering, or conducting an election. In October 2023, in Louisiana, the voters overwhelmingly voted to ban foreign funding of their elections by a vote of 72.57% in favor. When SB 1374 is signed into law, it will send a strong message that Arizona’s elections aren’t for sale by foreign billionaires.”

According to the legislature’s RTS system, representatives from the Arizona Free Enterprise Club and Heritage Action for America support the bill. A representative from the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office signed in as ‘neutral.’

Senators Borrelli, Farnsworth, Gowan, Hoffman, and Kavanagh; and Representatives Jones, McGarr, Montenegro, J. Parker, and Wilmeth have co-sponsored Bolick’s legislation.

SB 1374 awaits a vote in the full Senate chamber.

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.

GOP Lawmakers Advance Proposed Election Deadline Solution, Democrats Balk

GOP Lawmakers Advance Proposed Election Deadline Solution, Democrats Balk

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.

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

America’s Campaigns Are Costing More And Producing Worse Results Than Ever

America’s Campaigns Are Costing More And Producing Worse Results Than Ever

By Dr. Thomas Patterson |

Last fall a television news host advised viewers to “fasten their seat belts” because they were now in the exciting final countdown to the presidential election – which was at that point fifteen months in the future!

Strange as it once would have seemed, the comment actually made some sense because the news cycle had been filled for three years with daily analysis of the latest poll results and speculation from the campaign trail. Somehow, we have bumbled our way into extraordinarily long election seasons.

Endless campaigns have not evolved in response to public demands or the efforts of good government reformers. On the contrary, a majority of Americans report feeling fatigued and believe that presidential campaigns run too long.

It wasn’t always this way, of course. Presidential candidates were originally chosen by Congress. By the mid-19th century, national parties had formed, and candidates were selected in smoke-filled rooms at their conventions. After WWII, presidential primaries emerged as a way for rank-and-file party members to participate in the selection process.

By 1960, there were 16 state primaries. John F. Kennedy was nominated when his strong showing in West Virginia convinced Democrats a Catholic could be a viable candidate. After Democrats changed the rules following the contentious 1968 convention, even more states began conducting primaries.

Each new reform had the effect of lengthening the campaign season. In 1976, Jimmy Carter, the obscure governor of Georgia, won the nomination by getting a jump on the competition in the January Iowa caucuses. Ambitious politicians ever since have taken note.

In the late 20th century, the race among states to bolster their influence by holding earlier primaries was on. By 2008, four-fifths of the states were conducting their primaries by March.

Campaigns begin long before the primaries. Active campaign staffs for the 2024 election by now have been operating for years. In the past, early in the election year was often the time candidates declared. This year, the train has left the station already. Deadlines for many primaries have passed. It would take a Herculean effort to jumpstart a campaign at this point.

Some commentators applaud the democratization of the candidate selection process. But super long campaigns have several unfortunate consequences.

Financing a long campaign is a money draining effort that favors deep pockets. Most candidates are unable to self-fund, so they are obliged to spend immense amounts of time and do lots of promising to raise the necessary millions.

Voters may complain about campaign length, but the media are fine with it. Horse race stories are easy to write and sell well because they are simple to understand and naturally involve human interest as the candidates become known to voters.

Meanwhile, stories which are consequential for all Americans, like the deliberations of the Federal Reserve Board, the growing bellicosity of America’s existential enemies, or the details of energy policy get scant attention.

Campaigns affect governance too. It’s well known that the more challenging, risky issues are harder to tackle in an election year. When every year is in effect an election year, then it’s never the right time to do the heavy lifting.

Forgiving student debt and paying outrageous, unwise sums for hostage ransoms, especially for celebrities, is catnip for weak, vote-seeking politicians. On the other hand, anything that reeks of fiscal restraint or sacrifice for the future public good is studiously ignored. Entitlement reform is out of the question.

Campaigns could theoretically be defended for allowing voters to more thoroughly vet the candidates and so make better-informed decisions. But it doesn’t seem to work that way. We have elected mostly mediocrities in the last half century. The process this cycle seems to be producing is the most incompetent, dishonest, and disliked candidates in memory. We can do better.

Other modern democracies don’t subject themselves to such an exhausting ordeal. Elections in Canada, the UK, and Australia, all admittedly parliamentary systems, are legally limited to about six weeks. Nobody is clamoring for longer elections in these countries.

America has short presidential terms and long election seasons. As inertia and populism continue to dog our politics and the problems pile up, maybe we also should consider limiting our costly, dysfunctional campaigns.

Dr. Thomas Patterson, former Chairman of the Goldwater Institute, is a retired emergency physician. He served as an Arizona State senator for 10 years in the 1990s, and as Majority Leader from 93-96. He is the author of Arizona’s original charter schools bill.

Unstaffed Drop Boxes Jeopardize The Safety And Security Of Our Elections

Unstaffed Drop Boxes Jeopardize The Safety And Security Of Our Elections

By the Arizona Free Enterprise Club |

Following in the footsteps of his predecessor (now-Governor Katie Hobbs), Secretary of State Adrian Fontes appears determined to implement an Election Procedures Manual (EPM) that is ripe with unlawful provisions. The EPM is used by election officials throughout the state as the rulebook to conduct and run elections, so it is critically important that every provision in the manual strictly adheres to state law.

Now, fresh off an important legal win over the illegal signature verification process in the EPM, the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, along with the Thomas More Society, is suing Fontes once again—this time over unstaffed ballot drop boxes…

An Illegal Method of Voting

Arizona law establishes four different methods for secure early voting. According to A.R.S. § 16-548(A), an early ballot shall either be:

  1. Delivered to the officer in charge of elections, typically the county recorder.
  2. Mailed to the officer in charge of elections, typically the county recorder.
  3. Deposited by the voter at any polling place in the county.
  4. Deposited by the voter’s agent (family member, household member, caregiver) at any polling place in the county.

Did you catch that? Nowhere in the law does it allow for the use of unstaffed drop boxes. In fact, if you read through Fontes’ EPM, you’ll notice something…

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Unstaffed Drop Boxes Jeopardize The Safety And Security Of Our Elections

The Initiative Proposing Jungle Primaries And Ranked Choice Voting Is As Confusing As Expected

By the Arizona Free Enterprise Club |

For months we have been hearing that a small group of disgruntled political consultants and power-hungry politicians would be releasing their plan to scrap our century-old primary and general election system in favor of a confusing jungle primary/ranked choice voting scheme that will disenfranchise voters and empower special interests.

Well last week a group called “Save Democracy Arizona” rolled out their proposed election reform ballot initiative, and it is about as dysfunctional a plan as what we expected.  

Reading through their proposed constitutional amendment, a sprawling 4 pages of poorly written language drafted in secret, it is abundantly clear that this won’t make elections any more transparent or fair except for the special interests who support it. And it does far more to disenfranchise voters and destroy democracy than actually save it…

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