Pro-Trump Arizona SecState nominee rips deal to delay cleaning voter rolls until after election

"This is a usurpation of the authority of the legislative branch of government," said Arizona state Rep. Mark Finchem.

Updated: September 13, 2022 - 11:23pm

Pro-Trump Arizona state Rep. Mark Finchem, the GOP nominee for secretary of state, the top statewide elections official, is blasting a court-approved deal to postpone removing nonresidents from state voter rolls until after the high-stakes midterm elections in November.

"This is a usurpation of the authority of the legislative branch of government," said Finchem.

In a move reminiscent of the 2020 Georgia consent decree before the presidential election, incumbent Democrat Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich reached an agreement on Monday with a left-leaning nonprofit to put off cleaning the state’s voter rolls until 2023.

In 2020, Georgia Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger agreed with state and national Democrats to a consent decree that changed state election rules on signature matching and ballot curing. Former President Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized the Georgia consent decree, claiming it was unconstitutional and, thus, invalidated the 2020 presidential election and the subsequent Senate runoff elections in the state.

In the lead-up to the agreement in Arizona, Brnovich, Hobbs, and all the county recorders in the state were sued by the Arizona Asian American Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander for Equity Coalition on Aug. 16 over state House election integrity bills 2492 and 2243.

HB 2492 requires voters to provide proof of citizenship to vote in the state, but it doesn't take effect until Jan. 1, 2023. HB 2243, which is set to take effect on Sept. 24, would amend a voter registration law by canceling the registration of voters who move to another state or don't prove that they are state residents.

The nonprofit group filed a preliminary injunction against the latter law on Aug. 25. Last week, a federal judge accepted a joint agreement and proposed order that the coalition had reached with Brnovich, Hobbs, and the county recorders to postpone the enforcement of the voter registration amendment until Jan. 1, 2023.

"HB 2243 is a voter purge bill that targets voters of color and naturalized voters in Arizona, which could have had sweeping effects on the upcoming November election," the coalition argued.

In its preliminary injunction motion, the coalition group said the secretary of state's position was that the portion of the law canceling voter registration can't be enforced until Jan. 1, 2023, since it amends a portion of H.B. 2492, which doesn't take effect until that date.

The agreement approved by the judge is not "an admission of any wrongdoing or liability," nor is it an admission to "any allegations or the validity of any claim asserted in this case," according to the court order.

However, the agreement prevents the enforcement of "H.B. 2243 in a manner that would remove any voter's eligibility to vote in the 2022 general election or disqualify any otherwise-valid ballot on the basis of H.B. 2243." It also states that the voter registration amendment won't be enforced until Jan. 1, 2023.

Decrying the deal as a "usurpation" of legislative authority, Finchem, a vocal advocate of state election integrity reforms, told Just the News:

"This is yet another example of a consent decree that never should've happened, they are substituting executive and judicial branch action for the clear Authority of the legislative branch. 

"The legislation was implemented to protect the election process, this does nothing but serve to undermine that work on public policy and the legislative authority over election law making pertaining to elections security and fairness." 

On Monday, Arizona GOP Chairwoman Dr. Kelli Ward retweeted a post about the agreement by Asian Americans Advancing Justice, which is representing the coalition group.

"Where is @GeneralBrnovich?" Ward asked.

Brnovich was defeated in the Republican U.S. Senate primary last month by the Trump-backed Blake Masters.

Arizona state Rep. Jake Hoffman, who sponsored HB 2243, told The Epoch Times:

"Democrats have stooped to a new level of shamefulness and depravity with their latest round of lies about Arizona's common sense laws to ensure that our elections are accessible, secure, and trustworthy. 

Democrats' cries of racism are laughable on their face and serve only to shine a spotlight on the Democrat Party's long history of institutionalized racism and repeated attempts to disenfranchise millions of Americans throughout the last century and a half.

"Make no mistake about it, ensuring clean voter rolls and protecting the sanctity of Arizonans' votes by prohibiting non-citizens and non-residents from casting illegal ballots benefits every single legal voter regardless of race, gender, income, and party."

The offices of Brnovich and Hobbs did not respond to requests for comment.

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