Arizona House Minority Leader Reginald Bolding (D-Laveen) claimed Republican secretary of state candidate Mark Finchem would have rigged the 2020 election in favor of former President Donald Trump if he had been in office.
Bolding made the statement during Wednesday’s debate for Arizona’s secretary of state candidates as a response to Arizona Horizon host Ted Simons’ question about preventing politicization of the secretary of state’s office.
“The reality is, is that in 2020 if Mark Finchem was our secretary of state, Donald Trump would’ve stolen the election. How do we know? Because he told us,” said Bolding.
After the debate, Bolding tweeted that voters needed to “move past the 2020 elections” in order to “change the tone” of the upcoming elections.
Bolding’s remark elicited an incredulous expression from his debate opponent, fellow Democratic candidate and former Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes.
Simons didn’t respond to Bolding’s accusation. Instead, he addressed a separate question to Fontes about the importance of Democratic voters to select a winning candidate.
The State of Arizona has great reason to celebrate. In a case that the Club joined as a plaintiff, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge John Hannah ruled against Prop 208, determining that the money raised from the tax would exceed the constitutional spending limit for education. This decision followed the Arizona Supreme Court’s ruling last August that Prop 208 was unconstitutional. And now, it officially puts the nail in the coffin of the largest tax hike in Arizona history.
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.
While some politicians have called in the past for boycotts or buycotts of specific companies, Rep. Reginald Bolding (LD27) has raised the subject of whether the National Football League should consider pulling the February 2023 Super Bowl out of Arizona in response to the state’s new election laws.
Bolding, the House Democratic Leader, broached the issue in a May 11 letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on the same day the Senate passed SB1485, a bill which could remove more than 100,000 names from the early voting list of voters who continually fail to utilize the early ballot option.
The NFL announced in May 2018 that the Super Bowl LVII would be returning to Arizona in 2023 with a week-long list of activities culminating with the championship game. But in his letter, Bolding reminded Goodell the NFL reneged on its plan to hold the Super Bowl in Arizona in 1993 after legislators opted to not recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a state holiday.
“I am respectfully requesting that you add your powerful voice to a chorus of folks from a broad political spectrum to urge Governor Doug Ducey to veto this reprehensible legislation,” Bolding wrote to Goodell, adding “it is time for organizations like the NFL, the NCAA and the College Football National Championship to get off the sidelines and take a stand like Major League Baseball.”
The MLB reference relates to last month’s announcement that the All-Star Game was being moved from Atlanta to Denver after Georgia lawmakers made changes to the state’s election laws.
What Bolding didn’t know when sending his letter to Goodell was that Ducey signed SB1485 less than one hour after the legislation was transmitted to his desk.
Since then, Bolding’s suggestion that the NFL could consider pulling a premier sporting event has been heavily criticized for its negative impact on Arizona’s tourism and hospitality industries still reeling from the last 15 months of COVID-19 restrictions.
An economic study released after last year’s Super Bowl LIV in Miami showed that visitor spending -including spectators, media, teams, and NFL – brought in nearly $250 million to the Greater Miami area. There were also millions in short term labor income, and a $34 million bump in local and state tax revenues connected to the event.
Bolding’s letter to Goodell referred to a decision by Michael Bidwell, owner of the Arizona Cardinals, to join a few dozen Arizona business leaders to oppose some election-related legislation, including SB1485.
But Ducey made it clear when signing the bill that he found nothing nefarious about making changes to the state’s elections law.
“Arizona has for years continuously improved and refined our election laws —including intuitively renaming ‘absentee’ voting to ‘early’ voting— and constantly seeking to strengthen the security and integrity of our elections,” he said. “SB 1485 ensures Arizona remains a leader for inclusive, accessible, efficient and secure election administration.”
Bolding has continued to attack SB1485, although he has not repeated his panned comments about the NFL’s option to pull the Super Bowl from Arizona. The February 2023 game would be the fourth time the Super Bowl is held in the state.