Republicans continue their assault on democracy and free and fair elections as the GOP-controlled Arizona House approved even more election restrictions by slipping them into budget legislation at the last minute and limiting debate on the bill.
This latest measure, which is expected to be signed into law by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, severely limits the power of Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs by preventing her from playing any role in litigation related to the state’s election rules. It also allows third parties designated by the legislature to target what they identify as ineligible voters for removal from voter rolls. There also will be new requirements instituted for the printing of ballots.
In May, the state enacted changes to its Permanent Early Voting List, which determines who receives mail ballots each election cycle. Under those new rules, voters who do not cast a ballot at least once every two years will have to respond to a government notice to avoid being removed from the list.
Democrats and voting rights advocates immediately blasted the new law and accused Republicans of creating policies based on conspiracy theories and former president Donald Trump’s false claims that he lost the 2020 election because of massive fraud, including in Arizona.
“It is genuinely difficult to distinguish between bills that are driven by some calculated formula to suppress certain votes and bills that are driven by some random conspiracy theory on the Internet, because there are so many of both at this point — it’s unbelievable,” said Joel Edman, legislative and policy director for Arizona Advocacy Network.
Hobbs, who is running for governor, drew the ire of Trump and Arizona Republicans for having defended the integrity of the elections she oversaw. She called the new law “partisan retribution against the Office of the Secretary of State.” In a statement she said, “This statutory sleight of hand is set to expire at the end of my term, leaving no doubt that this was prompted by my efforts to protect the freedom to vote and because they did not like the outcome of the Presidential Election.”
State Rep. Lorenzo Sierra (D) said the new rules “are just a mockery of democracy, and it’s all based on this lie. It’s all based on the former president saying, ‘Well, I’m going to be back in August,’ and everyone (is) anticipating it like a second coming. I am no prophet, but I can tell you one thing: The orange rapture is not happening.”