Sen. Sonny Borrelli’s bold 2024 election bluff is beyond belief (even for him)

Majority Leader Sen. Sonny Borrelli attends an open session on March 20, 2023, at the State Capitol in Phoenix.
Majority Leader Sen. Sonny Borrelli attends an open session on March 20, 2023, at the State Capitol in Phoenix.

Some Republican legislators continue their quest to ban those demon machines from counting ballots in the 2024 election.

One of their leaders is now attempting an end run on Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs — declaring that the Republican-run Legislature has the power all on its own to effectively ban the use of electronic tabulation machines and instead require a hand count of all ballots.

It is, of course, a giant load of elephant dung.

But when has “truth” even been a consideration for the election conspiracy squad?

Borrelli has made election fraud claims before

Senate Majority Leader Sonny Borrelli, R-Lake Havasu City, is spearheading the latest attempt by some Republicans to rid Arizona of all that election fraud they can’t seem to find.

You remember Borrelli.

He’s the guy who went all cloak-and-dagger after dumpster divers unearthed a bag of supposedly shredded 2020 ballots outside the Maricopa County elections HQ, warning the woman who had them that she could be killed because she held the “domino” that would overturn the presidential election.

Turns out they weren’t ballots, she wasn’t killed and Trump still hasn’t produced any evidence the election was stolen — here or elsewhere.

Now Borrelli’s taking aim at the tabulation machines, which the conspiracy set say were used by cheaters to rob Donald Trump of the election. (As opposed to the Sharpies used by cheaters, and the bamboo ballots used by cheaters and the “mules” used by cheaters and the printer malfunctions used by … oh, you get the point.)

The goal: To force a hand count

On Monday, Borrelli sent out a letter on Senate stationery, notifying all 15 county elections officials that they cannot use electronic tabulators next year unless all components are designed, manufactured and assembled in the U.S.

Funny thing is, Hobbs vetoed that very bill in April, because such machines don’t exist.

But Republicans, Borrelli wrote, don’t need her approval. They passed a resolution declaring that the U.S. Constitution gives them the “plenary authority” to act on their own.

In Maricopa County: Limited changes approved to elections agreement

“Therefore be it resolved by the Fifty Sixth Legislature, First Regular Session, no electronic voting systems in the state of Arizona may be used as a primary method for conducting, counting, tabulating or verifying federal elections, unless those systems meet the requirements set forth in SCR 1037,” Borrelli wrote, in his letter to the counties.

Translation: Don’t expect to find out who won next year’s elections until Ground Hog’s Day 2025 if Borrelli has anything to say about it and a hand count of all ballots is required.

His letter is a bluff. It has no force of law

Fortunately, Borrelli won’t have anything to say about it. His advisory to the counties is a bluff.

He’s relying on the Elections Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which says state legislatures have the power to set the “Times, Places and Manner” of holding federal elections.

As a result, the Republicans in April approved Senate Concurrent Resolution 1037, declaring their desire to ban the machines.But a resolution has no force of law. It’s more wishful thinking than actual legislation.

It certainly doesn’t trump existing state law that allows for the use of machine tabulation.

That’s probably why Senate President Warren Petersen’s name is nowhere to be found on Borrelli’s letter.

“He is working independently of the Senate Majority with regards to this topic,” the Senate’s Republican spokeswoman, Kim Quintero, told me.

Counties were advised to ignore it

Hobbs, Secretary of State Adrian Fontes and the Arizona Association of Counties on Monday all said Borrelli’s advisory should be ignored.

“It is simply the legislature expressing their opinion on election issues,” the AAC advised the counties. “In order for this opinion to be binding it would have to make a statutory change signed by the Governor or voted on by the people.”

“The letter from Senator Borrelli is not only completely false, it’s grossly irresponsible,” Hobbs’ spokesman Christian Slater told me. “The Legislature does not have ‘plenary authority’ over elections, plain and simple. As Governor Hobbs stated in her veto letter for SB 1074, the election equipment described in Senator Borrelli’s bill does not even exist.”

Naturally, the conspiracy set immediately began lining up behind Borrelli’s bold bluff.

“Boom! AZ Legislature First in the Nation to Use Art. 1, Sec. 4, Cl .1 USC,” former Rep. Mark Finchem wrote.

He failed in his attempt to get a federal judge to throw out the machines, failed in his campaign to become secretary of state and now writes a Substack newsletter about the many ways in which his election was stolen.

The only thing that's 'null and void' here

Naturally, Rep. Justine Wadsack, R-Tucson, fell in line.

“#SCR1037 gives the AZ Legislature plenary power over Federal elections according to the US Constitution & is already in play!” she tweeted. “All 15 AZ counties received a letter from bill sponsor @SonnyBorrelli, informing them they canNOT use machines in the upcoming 2024 Presidential election.” Wadsack’s seatmate, Rep. Rachel Jones, R-Tucson, was likewise thrilled.

“This makes ALL machines null and void,” she tweeted.Something is null and void, all right.

I think it’s the reasoning power of some of the brianiacs who land in the Legislature.

Reach Roberts at Follow her on Twitter at @LaurieRoberts.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Arizona Republicans can't ban counting machines in 2024. It's a bluff