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Republican resolution shows intent to bypass voters in the 2024 presidential election

A Republican state representative wants to completely invalidate the votes of Arizonans in the upcoming presidential election as a bargaining tool to force Democrat Gov. Katie Hobbs to agree to a Republican wishlist of election reforms.

By Caitlin Sievers, Arizona Mirror - February 15, 2024
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A Republican state representative wants to completely invalidate the votes of Arizonans in the upcoming presidential election as a bargaining tool to force Democrat Gov. Katie Hobbs to agree to a Republican wishlist of election reforms. 

Rep. Rachel Jones, of Tucson, is the sponsor of House Concurrent Resolution 2055, a declaration saying that the state legislature already has the power — via the U.S. Constitution — to pre-appoint Arizona’s electors for the 2024 presidential election, to ensure that they would vote for former President Donald Trump, regardless of the results of the popular vote. 

The Legislature would then use the threat of ignoring the votes of millions of Arizonans to strong-arm Hobbs into signing an election reform bill that would eliminate early voting and allow only in-person voting and only on Election Day with no mail-in ballots, to be completely counted by hand. Hobbs would not have the power to veto the measure since the resolution does not have the power of law, but simply declares its backers’ intentions and what they already believe to be true, per federal law. 

While the Republican members of the House Municipal Oversight and Elections Committee almost always vote along party lines to approve proposed legislation from their own party, Jones’ resolution went too far, even for them. Committee Chairwoman Jacqueline Parker, R-Mesa, opted not to take a vote on the resolution and to table discussion on it for the moment, after an impassioned debate among lawmakers and members of the public. 

Rep. Alexander Kolodin, R-Scottsdale, said he did not believe the U.S. Supreme Court would side with the Arizona legislature if it decided to appoint electors to vote for Trump, regardless of the will of the voters. He added that passing this resolution would put a bullseye on Republicans for accusations of stealing the election from Democrats. 

“Wouldn’t we be guilty of exactly what we accuse the other side of doing?” he asked. “Wouldn’t that be just as bad as what we imagine they have been doing?”

Josh Barnett, who sued then-Secretary of State Hobbs after he lost the Republican primary for Arizona’s first congressional district for U.S. House in August 2022, spoke passionately in favor of the resolution. 

“Do you not think 2020 was illegally run?” Barnett asked the legislators. “I’m confused here.” 

In the suit, which was rapidly dismissed, Barnett asked the judge to annul the results of the 2022 general election because it was “illegally run.” 

Barnett also has a history of making posts to social media about the QAnon conspiracy theories. 

Barnett was adamant that the 2020 and 2022 general elections in Arizona were illegally run, without providing any evidence, adding that Republicans had not accomplished any significant election reforms since then, and that he was sure the 2024 election would be illegally run as well. 

When Rep. Justin Heap, R-Mesa, asked Barnett if he was really asking for the legislators to appoint electors to vote for Trump regardless of the will of the voters, Barnett answered that the voters elected a Republican majority in the Legislature and that means they want a conservative agenda. 

Republicans have a slim one-vote majority in both the state House and Senate, and in 2022 voters elected Democrats to several of the state’s top offices, including governor, secretary of state and attorney general. 

Barnett added that with Republicans in control of the Legislature there was no need for a presidential election this year. 

Ruthee Goldkorn, a local activist, argued that the only illegal activity surrounding the 2020 election was the attempt in several states to use fake electors to supersede the will of the voters, who elected Democrat President Joe Biden. 

“Why this bill is in conversation, I have no idea,” she said. “There’s no way on God’s green acres that this should ever come to fruition.” 

Melissa Price, a former Carefree Town Council member, told the lawmakers that members of the public think the legislators don’t care enough to ensure a safe and secure election this year. 

“This next election could change the course of our lives,” she said. 

Price added that if the legislators couldn’t stomach disenfranchising the entire electorate, they could run their own separate presidential election on one day, with paper ballots and to be counted by hand. 

Jones did not provide any conclusive reason that she believes the votes of Arizonans should not count — something she’s accused Democrats of doing behind the scenes for years — other than that many Republicans and some Democrats have lost faith in the elections system. 

She also claimed that a recent trend toward more Democrats being elected into office in Arizona somehow indicated that the state’s elections are rigged or “maladministered.” 

Some of Jones’ reasoning included that until 2020, Arizonans had not backed a Democrat for president since Harry Truman in 1948 — with the exception of Bill Clinton in 1996. 

While this is true, demographics in the state have changed substantially over the past 20 years, and the state’s presidential elections have trended purple since 2000. 

She added that George W. Bush won Arizona with a record vote gain of more than 300,000 votes and Trump surpassed that in 2020 with a gain of more than 400,000 votes, calling these “interesting anomalies” and implying that the numbers indicate fraud. 

Jones’ thesis ignores the massive population increase from 2000 to 2020, with around 2 million people moving into the state, and the increase in voter turnout in the same timeframe. 

The voter turnout for the 2000 presidential election in Arizona was almost 72%. That increased to 77% in 2004 and 80% in 2020

Both Kolodin and Heap said they had misgivings about the resolution, with Kolodin saying if it were passed, it would guarantee that the Legislature would flip to Democratic control after the 2024 election.

This story was originally published in the Arizona Mirror


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