GOP-led Arizona state Senate committee introduces bill that mandates manual counting of all ballots

Maricopa County Advance Votes (File)

Republican state senators on Monday proposed legislation that would require every ballot in Arizona’s election to be counted by hand, GOP supporters who embraced former President Donald Trump’s false narrative on the massive electoral fraud calling it a necessary reform.

Sen. Wendy Rogers’ R-Flagstaff proposal was approved by the Senate Governing Committee Monday afternoon on a 4-3 vote with no Democratic support.

The measure is one of dozens of election bills going through the Legislative Assembly this year.

Rogers said his proposal for a full count was prompted by comments from Doug Logan, the CEO of the company the Arizona Senate hired to recount 2.1 million Maricopa County ballots in last spring, Cyber ​​Ninjas.

“It removes the machines,” Rogers said. “When I interviewed cybercrime expert Doug Logan…he told me that the biggest takeaway from the audit was that the more technology we use, the more chance there is of cheat.”

Logan’s hand count operation used hundreds of people, lasted for weeks, and tracked only presidential and U.S. Senate races. He confirmed that President Joe Biden had won, as the machines’ initial tally had found.

Jen Marson, executive director of the Association of Arizona Counties, said the proposal was simply unworkable.

“As we know, we can’t recruit enough people in many of our counties to do the limited hand count that happens after the election,” Marson told the panel. “I find it hard to believe that we would have enough people to hand-count the whole election and all the different styles of voting associated with this election in a timely manner.”

But Rogers says she would have no shortage of volunteers to count the ballots quickly, although she failed to mention that there are dozens of races on each ballot. Statewide, 3.4 million ballots were cast in 2020.

Senator Kelly Townsend, Republican chair of the committee, was leading more than a dozen election bills through her panel Monday afternoon, with plans to go into the evening. They included bills to ban the mandatory use of ‘Sharpies’ to mark ballots as she sought to address just one of the claims she said had led Trump supporters to challenge the results. elections.

With only a one-vote majority in the Senate and House, many of the more outlandish proposals are unlikely to pass. In addition to Rogers’ proposal to require paper ballots and ban machine counting, others would eliminate voting by mail, which is used by the vast majority of Arizona voters.

Republican Senator Paul Boyer is a big roadblock.

“So I’m not voting to decertify (the 2020 election), I’m not voting for the 17 tests and the magic paper,” he told The Associated Press last week, the latter referencing to a plan to add a host of ballot security measures. “I’m not voting to get rid of early voting. I’m not voting to ban mail-in ballots for schools, school board elections. What else was there?”

GOP House Speaker Rusty Bowers is another — he recently entrusted a Republican House member’s plan to eliminate mail-in voting and require manual counts to be completed within a day to 12 different committees.

Democrats have mocked many of the Republican efforts, calling them outgrowths of Trump’s campaign to bring lawmakers in half a dozen battleground states where he lost to nullify the election.

During Monday’s Senate committee hearing, the three Democrats on the GOP-dominated panel remained mostly silent as a parade of election bills was heard.

“It’s one of those days when you realize they’ve gotten so off the rails that it’s almost defying to give him more legitimacy than he already has trying to comment,” said Democratic Senator Martin Quezada. in a brief interview during the panel’s dinner break. “You’re not going to persuade these people, and these ideas are so crazy it’s like it’s not even worth challenging.”

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