Friday, April 12, 2024

The Sleazy Nature of Republican Politics in Arizona

As its population expands, Arizona’s national political influence continues to grow. It’s one of the six swing states pundits generally believe will decide the 2024 election. While Arizona was once a reliably red state, it’s now considered purple. However, as I pointed out in a previous post, the Copper State was never truly red since the days of Barry Goldwater.

In fact, in modern history, Arizona has been the Republican establishment’s dream state, at least before Trump came along. In 2016, I attended the Republican state convention and witnessed the underhanded back stabbing that occurred as enraged establishment delegates used every trick, including misrepresenting themselves, in an attempt to maintain control of the selection process for the national convention.

Even though Trump won the primary handily, anti-Trump delegates desperately tried to decouple themselves from their commitment to him after the first vote. The hope was the national convention would become deadlocked, so they would be free to support an establishment candidate chosen by the party’s power brokers.

The Legislature’s Response to the 2020 Rigged Election

In Arizona, the 2020 election was plagued by a variety of serious irregularities, including mule dumps, ballot harvesting, data dumps, database erasures and impossible mail-in ballot return rates. The rigging was so obvious, voters demanded accountability, but in a classic bait and switch, Republicans in the legislature initiated a recount but not an investigation. Leftists claimed victory when the recount confirmed the original vote totals, but process issues were never addressed.

However, the mission to silence those demanding election accountability after the recount succeeded, and the spotlight shifted away from Arizona. That’s why most people weren’t aware the 2020 election gave Republicans control of the state House, Senate and the governor’s office. You would imagine that in light of all the egregious errors exposed in the presidential election, the number one priority for the 2021 legislative session would have been election integrity.

But you would have been wrong.

Despite a lot of fanfare and posturing, the Republican controlled government in Arizona passed two weak election integrity bills related to recount thresholds and ballot signature verification. In all, 11 out of 13 election integrity bills died in committee. In essence, establishment Republicans didn’t want to change the way the state conducted elections, so they rejected bills that would have set up an office of election integrity, required a forensic examination of voting equipment after every election, established standards for paper ballots, prohibited unattended drop boxes, defined qualifications to vote, established proof of citizenship, and created a secure electronic voter registration process. Remember, none of those bills made it out of the Republican controlled Senate.

But then something unexpected happened in the 2022 midterm elections that proved very fortuitous for the RINOS in the Arizona legislature.

Republicans lost the governor’s office.

So, it seemed out of character when Republicans rolled up their sleeves in the 2023 legislative session and focused heavily on election integrity, passing a slew of bills:

HB2415: Purged voter rolls of people who were inactive in the last election cycle.

SB1074: Required tabulating equipment to be made in America and meet Department of Defense security standards

HB2322: A ballot signature bill that summarily rejected signatures that couldn’t be verified.

HB2552: Prohibited ranked choice voting.

HB2319: Defined proper election conduct.

HB2619: Established proper chain of custody for ballots.

SB1565: Prohibited the use of AI in the election process.

HB2613: Stipulated that all equipment used in the election process be manufactured in America.

HB2416: Addressed cybersecurity risks.

HB2305: This bill would have ensured that representatives of both political parties could challenge the decisions made by election workers in determining whether a signature on an early ballot was valid.

HB2308: In 2022, Katie Hobbs was running for governor while also overseeing the election as secretary of state. This bill would have prohibited those running for office from participating in the election process for their own election.

HB2560: To ensure transparency, this bill would have required all county recorders to post a list of registered voters who voted in the recently completed election. Unaltered images of ballots used to tabulate the results would also have been retained.

SB1105: To address in-person voter disenfranchisement, this bill would have required county election officials to offer a station on election day where voters could have their ballots tabulated on site.

SB1180: This bill would have prohibited paying people to collect ballots.

SB1597: Maricopa and Pima counties would have to provide on-site tabulation for early voters in at least one polling location per district.

HB2722: This would have allowed election officials to bypass electronic tabulation and order a ballot hand count.

SB1175: Among other changes, this bill established procedures for a hand count audit if a political party fails to provide a sufficient number of board workers.

SB471: Due to irregularities in the 2020 election, this bill would require a head-to-head test of hand counts versus machine counts of ballots.

Republicans in the Legislature Working Hard on Their Constituent’s Behalf?

Wow! Republican legislators rock on election integrity, right?

Except, every one of those bills was vetoed by Democratic Governor Katie Hobbs.

Every… Single… One.

And the Republicans who wrote and passed these bills knew that in advance. It was like a free pass. They could vote with impunity for bills the donor class would never approve of if they had any chance of passing. Even with certain defeat, Republican legislators could return to their district and boast about how tough they were on election integrity. You know what they’ll say: “If it wasn’t for that damn Democrat governor, we would have fair and honest elections in Arizona.”

Interestingly, many of the bills the legislature passed in 2023 were the same bills that never made it out of committee when Republicans controlled all three branches of government. So, they stonewalled meaningful election integrity when they could have passed virtually anything they wanted, and then passed a whole slate of bills they knew would get vetoed.


Why Voters Tune Out

Recently, Arizona ended up with a milk toast election integrity bill, HB2765, which is a bunch of words that accomplish very little. As a main focus, Republicans made it clear that they really want those mail in ballot signatures verified. Okay, but there’s nothing in the bill that changes how the process actually works. Nothing about how elections are conducted is changed in a meaningful way, but potential election riggers are warned that if they violate election laws, legislators will be really mad.

Sadly, like most of the swing states, nothing substantive was accomplished to address the root cause of fraudulent elections. Arizona had their chance in 2021, and they purposely whiffed because election integrity was not what the establishment wanted. Instead, they waited until 2023 to pass a bunch of bills they knew would be vetoed.

It reminds me of the same trick John McCain pulled every six years when he would return to Arizona for the election, go down to the border, don a cowboy hat and jeans and look pensive while standing next to a border patrol agent. Once the election was over, McCain would return to Washington, DC, put on his suit and advocate for illegal alien amnesty.

It’s all pretty disgusting.