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Arizona legislature passes voting integrity bills, hoping other states will follow suit

State Rep. Jake Hoffman has shepherded through a legislative package aimed at protecting election integrity in Arizona as H.R. 1, a Democratic bill to federalize the patchwork of state election rules, makes its way through Congress.

Published: March 12, 2021 5:38pm

Updated: March 13, 2021 10:28pm

As H.R. 1 — a nearly 800-page bill that would federaIize the U.S. system of state-run elections — makes its way through Congress in Washington, state lawmakers across the country are introducing legislation to preempt the bill that Republicans fear is a way to build an enduring, structural Democratic advantage into the nation's election law.

Arizona Republican State Rep. Jake Hoffman has successfully shepherded through the state House of Representatives a package of electoral reform bills that many conservative activists see a model for states nationwide.

Hoffman told Just the News that the goal of his legislative package is to "protect Arizona voters from having to deal with" what he says are the "primary bad [election] policies that are happening across the country."

"Election integrity is on the minds of Americans all across the country," said Hoffman. "It's particularly on the minds of Arizonans, as Arizona was a swing state in this last election and played a crucial role … not only [in] the determination of who became president, but also in terms of the conversation on election anomalies and irregularities."

Hoffman's bundle of bills includes one, HB2792, which will prohibit the mass mailing of ballots to voters who have not requested one — and enforce the provision by making it a class five felony to violate it.

This past election cycle in Arizona "we had a county recorder willing to and desiring to go rogue — to mass-mail ballots to every single voter on the roll, even if they didn't sign up through the legal process to get a mail-in ballot," said the lawmaker. The problem with a county recorder "going rogue," Hoffman explained, is that it "compromises the integrity of the rest of the counties in our state," whose officials did not mass-mail ballots.

"We included a class five felony in this legislation, so that if a county recorder does decide to go rogue and willfully and intentionally violate the statute, they will face very serious penalties for having done so and for having compromised or called into question the entire state's election," Hoffman said.

Another central component of the legislative package, HB2569, aims to prohibit the private funding of election activities. During the 2020 cycle, "Mark Zuckerberg and his wife donated $400 million to nonprofits, which then turned around and re-granted those monies to county recorders, which are county elections officials and secretaries of states all across the country," said Hoffman, referring to funds Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan donated in 2020 via the Center for Tech and Civic Life to expand the role of non-governmental activist groups in the administration of elections.

Those Zuckerberg-funded nonprofits in turn "influenced the process for how elections go," Hoffman said. "And that is a bridge too far … that is something that we absolutely do not want."

Other measures prohibit same-day voter registration, require hand count audits to be statistically significant with a 99% confidence level, and prevent government officials from modifying statutorily prescribed election deadlines — as was seen in many states ahead of last November's election. The bill adds a class 6 felony for any violation of the latter provision.

Arizona Democrats oppose the GOP election bills — more than a dozen — making their way through the state legislature. Democratic State Rep. Athena Salman told CNN earlier this week that she believes Republicans "are trying to make it harder for everyone to vote based on the hope and desire that the people who it harms more and who it disenfranchises more are the people less likely to vote Republican."

Hoffman and others argue that beyond shoring up election security for the people of Arizona, they hope that Arizona will set an example for like-minded legislatures across the nation that are now preparing to fight against the congressional push to federalize elections via H.R. 1.

"What we want to do is ensure that Arizona is on the record from the get-go — and before H.R. 1 passes — opposing, or actually not even opposing, really just prescribing the way that Arizonans want their elections to be managed," said Hoffman.

In the wake of controversies surrounding altered rules and allegations of irregularities in key battleground states in the November election, state-level Republicans are now laser-focused on election integrity laws. There are now more than 250 pieces of legislation in state houses around the nation crafted with the goal of shaping and securing election laws, according to the New York University Brennan Center for Justice.

The Georgia state Senate recently repealed the practice of no-excuse absentee ballots, and Iowa Republican Governor Kim Reynolds signed a bill last week that will shorten the early voting window in her state from 29 days to 20 days before an election, as well as close polls at 8 p.m. instead of 9 p.m.

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