Arizona bill would allow legislature to overturn election results

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An arch conservative member of Arizona's state House of Representatives has proposed a mammoth overhaul of the state's voting procedures that would allow legislators to overturn the results of a primary or general election after months of unfounded allegations and partisan audits.

The bill, introduced by state Rep. John Fillmore (R), would substantially change the way Arizonans vote by eliminating most early and absentee voting and requiring people to vote in their home precincts, rather than at vote centers set up around the state.

Most dramatically, Fillmore's bill would require the legislature to hold a special session after an election to review election processes and results, and to "accept or reject the election results."

The proposal comes after President Biden became the first Democrat since former President Clinton to win Arizona's electoral votes. He defeated former President Trump there by just under 11,000 votes, or about three-tenths of a percentage point.

Ever since, Arizona Republicans have been riven between election denialists who have pushed to investigate or overturn those results and more mainstream legislators - and Gov. Doug Ducey (R) - who have tried to move on. An audit, conducted by an inexperienced firm called Cyber Ninjas, failed to uncover evidence of fraud or miscounting.

But Fillmore said at a committee hearing Wednesday he still does not believe the reports he has seen, though he maintained his skepticism has little to do with the ultimate winner.

"I don't care what the press says. I don't trust ABC, CBS, NBC or Fox or anybody out there. Everybody's lying to me and I feel like I have a couple hundred ex-wives hanging around me," Fillmore said. "This is not a President Biden thing. This is not a the other red-headed guy thing."

"We should have voting in my opinion in person, one day, on paper, with no electronic means and hand counting that day. We need to get back to 1958-style voting," he added.

Arizona Republicans, who shepherded through major overhauls of voting rights last year, are continuing their efforts to change election procedures in this year's session. Legislators have introduced dozens of measures to change procedures around absentee ballots, which the vast majority of Arizona voters use to cast their votes, as well as rules about where people can vote and how election administrators go about cleaning up the voter rolls.

Fillmore's legislation is unlikely to gain much traction, but it is a sign that some Republicans have embraced the idea that legislators should have veto power over the will of the voters if they do not like the results.

Arizona is one of seven states where Trump supporters created a series of fake documents purported to be from a slate of electors who voted for Trump in the 2020 elections. A senior Justice Department official said this week that those documents are being investigated. Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) last month referred the matter to Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R), though Brnovich too has questioned the integrity of the 2020 elections.

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