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Arizona GOP Introduces New Restrictive Voting Bill That Would Allow Lawmakers to ‘Reject’ Election Results

Arizona GOP Introduces New Restrictive Voting Bill That Would Allow Lawmakers to ‘Reject’ Election Results

Arizona Republicans have introduced a bill that would impose significant new voting restrictions and allow the state legislature to reject election results.] The measure would require the state legislature to convene after primary and general elections to “review the ballot counting process” and “shall accept or reject the election results”.

The proposal does not require lawmakers to find evidence of fraud or define any factors they would have to consider in order to overturn an election. If the lawmakers were to reject the results, any voter in Arizona would be allowed to petition a local judge to hold a new election. And more dangerously, one of the co-sponsors of the bill is Mark Finchem, a state representative who believes the 2020 election was stolen, has ties to the Oath Keepers, and was at the Capitol on 6 January. Finchem is running to be Arizona’s chief election official and Donald Trump has endorsed him.

PHOENIX, AZ – MAY 03: A contractor working for Cyber Ninjas, who was hired by the Arizona State Senate, looks at ballots from the 2020 general election on May 3, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Courtney Pedroza for the Washington Post)

 

The same measure would also require Arizona voters to give an excuse if they want to vote by mail, even though mail-in voting has long been used by the vast majority of voters in the state. It also would restrict voting to election day and prevent the use of vote centers, essentially mega voting precincts where anyone in a county can vote, regardless of where they live.

Another GOP sponsor of the bill, state rep John Fillmore, made a thinly-veiled racist reference on Wednesday when he said that the state “needs to get back to 1958-style voting,” according to the Arizona Republic. Arizona had a racist literacy test in place in 1958, the Republic noted. The Voting Rights Act, which wiped out many blatant efforts to keep Black people from the polls, passed in 1965. Even if Republicans drop the provision allowing the legislature to overturn elections, the measures that roll back vote-by-mail access in Arizona would still be extreme.

 

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In a separate bill, the Arizona GOP is also pushing a measure that would discipline teachers and open them up to lawsuits if they don’t tell parents everything a student tells them in confidence, even if the student confides that he or she is gay or transgender. House Bill 2161 would make it illegal for a government employee to withhold information that is “relevant to the physical, emotional or mental health of the parent’s child,” and specifically prevents teachers from withholding information about a student’s “purported gender identity” or a request to transition to a gender other than the “student’s biological sex.” The bill would allow parents to sue school districts if teachers don’t comply.

Jeanne Casteen, the executive director of the Arizona Secular Coalition and a former teacher, worried about how the reporting function of the bill would impact child abuse. Teachers are mandatory reporters, and Casteen said that every time she had to report child abuse, it was being inflicted by a parent. Under the new bill, a teacher would also have to notify the parents — the likely abusers — that the child informed them of the abuse, she said.

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