The left has been stoking public outcry over election integrity reforms around the country, prompting Joe Biden to refer to Georgia’s recent election bill “Jim Crow on steroids.” The misguided outrage has been focused on Arizona too, and democrats have been referring to many of the bills here as a reaction to what they call the “Big Lie” referring to the 2020 election. In reality, the only “Big Lie” is the narrative from the media and left that these measures are voter suppression bills.
One bill they are targeting is SB 1485, which was introduced by Senator Michelle Ugenti-Rita and has passed the Senate on party lines, the House Government & Elections Committee, and is waiting for a Floor vote in the House. Calling this a reaction to 2020 is easily disproven evidenced by the fact that Senator Ugenti-Rita introduced the same exact bill in 2019.
The bill simply requires county recorders to send a notice to a voter on the permanent early voter list who has not cast their mail-in ballot in four consecutive elections. If the voter fails to respond to the notice within 30 days, the voter would be removed from the early voter list.
It is important to note that unlike many other states, Arizonans can vote early in person for 27 days and should someone be removed from the early voter list, they can immediately re-register or simply choose to vote in person. No one is being disenfranchised.
But since the media and left have taken such a vocal stance against these bills, let’s compare SB 1485 to the rest of the country. Unlike Arizona, most states do not allow automatic early voting by mail and even those that do are far more restrictive than what SB 1485 proposes.
In Connecticut for example, the only people who can automatically vote by mail are those who are permanently physically disabled. And even then, it should not be called “permanent” because a voter is removed for failing to respond to an annual notice within 30 days. (§ 9-140e). Compare that with SB 1485, where a notice is sent only after failing to vote in four consecutive elections. Which is more reasonable?
In California, where any registered voter may sign up to automatically receive a ballot by mail similar to Arizona’s permanent early voter list, a voter is automatically removed after failing to vote in four consecutive elections (§ 3206). So, in reality, SB1485 doesn’t even go as far as California, a state in which democrats have held a trifecta since 2011.
And what about in D.C, where they allow voters to “permanently” request an absentee ballot but remove any voter who misses two consecutive elections (DCMR 3, § 720.4)? Where is the public outcry over D.C’s voter “suppression”?
The truth is that these reforms do not even go as far as laws that currently exist around the country, including in democrat strongholds. In Arizona, it is far easier to automatically vote by mail than it is in most states, but the lies being peddled by the media and woke left are duping corporations like Delta, Coca-Cola, and the MLB in Georgia, and now many here in Arizona too.
Democrats in D.C are targeting the elimination of state voter ID laws with the passage of H.R 1, despite Arizona and 35 other states currently requiring it. More importantly, voters support it. In a recent poll, 75% of likely voters said they support requiring photo ID before voting. By party affiliation, 89% of Republicans, 77% of unaffiliated voters, and even 60% of likely Democrat voters support this requirement.
Yet in Arizona, ID requirements extend only to in-person voting, where voters are expected to show either a photo ID like their driver’s license, or a document that includes their full name and current address such as a utility bill. For early, mail-in ballots? Simply a signature.
In the professional and criminal investigation world, analysts who verify the authorship of handwriting have degrees in forensic science and spend two years under the training of experienced analysts. But for elections, election staff is tasked with verifying signatures and do not require these professional credentials. At a volume of millions of ballots, election staff are gazing at thousands of ballots each, potentially spending mere seconds comparing what they see on the ballot and what is on their computer screen.
Additionally, people’s handwriting changes over time. They might get an injury, develop a disability, or their style simply changes over time. Experts in crime labs can spend hours poring over documents to compare several samples, but election staff must quickly make a subjective judgment of the match based on one sample. This is not a sufficient measure for something as important as elections, especially considering Arizona expects voters to provide ID if they vote in person.
Sponsored by Senator Mesnard, SB1713 brings our mail-in ballot system up to par with in-person voting by requiring voters to simply write their date of birth and either their driver’s license number or voter registration number in addition to their signature. This provides an objective measure to ensure the identity of voters and removes some of the subjectivity, with no burden to voters.
The left and media claim that asking voters to provide this information in addition to their signature is “voter suppression” and “racist.” Americans aren’t buying it—not even their own electorate.
In the corporate world, businesses focus on the “Fraud Triangle” in attempting to mitigate fraud within their organization. The triangle consists of three main ingredients required for fraud to occur: opportunity, incentive, and rationalization. The only controllable factor in this triangle is opportunity, or the ease at which someone can commit fraud.
Applied to elections, and specifically to mail-in ballots, signatures being the only identifying feature poses great opportunity to nefarious actors. Regardless of how frequently this opportunity is seized, or if it is at all, by simply bringing mailed ballots to the same standard as in-person voting we can greatly reduce this opportunity without limiting access to voting.
SB1713 does exactly this. It is a reasonable and meaningful election integrity reform based on a proven practice—voter ID—that is overwhelmingly supported by voters. This is a must pass reform that the Legislature and Governor ought to prioritize to increase the integrity of our elections.
More than 100,000 Arizona voters on the Permanent Early Voting List (PEVL) have not voted by early ballot in the past four years.
Think about that for a moment. These are people who asked to be on the PEVL but are choosing not to use the system. Not only does this waste taxpayers like you money by sending out unwanted ballots, but it compromises the integrity of our elections.
If someone isn’t using the system, they shouldn’t continue to receive an early ballot by mail. Thankfully, the Arizona Senate addressed the PEVL on Tuesday by passing SB1485, a bill sponsored by Senator Michelle Ugenti-Rita (R-LD23). And predictably, as the bill heads to the Arizona House, Democrats are losing their minds. While most of them are mischaracterizing this bill as “voter suppression,” others have called it a “full-on assault on Democracy,” and Representative Athena Salman (D-LD26) couldn’t help but label it as “racist.”
But while Arizona Democrats proceeded to hurl unhinged attacks and insults at proponents of the legislation, it’s important to look at what this bill actually does. And it’s not that complicated.
SB1485 simply changes the name of the list from the PEVL to the Early Voting List (EVL). That means voters can continue to vote early and by mail as long as they are on the list. But if an individual doesn’t vote by early ballot in both the primary election and the general election for two consecutive cycles, he or she will receive a notice from their county recorder. Failure to respond to the notice means the voter will be removed from the list.
As you can see, this isn’t some sinister conspiracy like Democrats are making it out to be.
There’s nothing in the bill that prevents a voter from being placed back on the list. And it certainly has no impact on someone’s voter registration status.
However, Democrats would rather cry wolf about “voter suppression” and “racism” instead of recognizing that this is a bill that should be embraced by all parties. Is it because they know they stand to benefit from outdated voter rolls or a deeply flawed mail-in voting system?
More than likely, that’s the case.
The fact is that distrust in this past November’s election remains high. And mail-in voting is more prone to mistake, mishap, and mischief. But that doesn’t mean it should be eliminated. Mail-in voting is popular in Arizona, and SB1485 allows for it to continue. But additional security measures are necessary to protect this method of voting.
Once fraud is in the election system, it is extremely difficult to prove and root out. Cleaning up voter rolls by ensuring the EVL is kept up to date by removing deceased persons, citizens who have moved to another state, duplicate voter files, and anyone who isn’t actively using the system is critically important.
While more steps are needed to improve election integrity through the state, SB1485 is a step in the right direction. Now, it’s up to the House to pass this crucial piece of legislation.
We have become well acquainted with the autocratic, unchecked power of Big Tech and their censorship. It was just last month that the President of the United States was deplatformed from every social media platform – once one pulled the trigger, the dominos fell and within hours President Trump was removed from the internet.
Poland is considering bold actions against the unchecked power multi-billion dollar corporations have obtained in deciding what speech is acceptable and what is not, comparing the actions of these platforms to what they experienced during the communist era. Here in America, where freedom of speech is understood as a fundamental, inalienable right of a free people, Big Tech takes advantage of their section 230 protections, while continuing to censor, deplatform, or shadow ban users with whom they disagree, garnering outrage from politicians, but no action.
Beyond their deplatforming, shadow banning and censorship, the 2020 election gave rise to a new influence Big Tech has in our democracy with Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg alone giving hundreds of millions to election offices to influence or change the way local elections offices conducted the election.
The idea that Zuckerberg and Big Tech would give away their millions simply out of the goodness of their heart to protect democracy without trying to exert influence for one candidate or ideology is at the least questionable. And we need not simply theorize about their plan, corporations are outright bragging about their master plan of coordinating the results of the election now that it is over:
“Their work touched every aspect of the election. They got states to change voting systems and laws and helped secure hundreds of millions in public and private funding. They fended off voter-suppression lawsuits, recruited armies of poll workers and got millions of people to vote by mail for the first time.”
One focus of this election influence is the Center for Technology and Civic Life (CTCL) which in 2018 spent a mere $1.4 million, but in 2020 received over $350 million from Zuckerberg and his wife alone. This influence was seen throughout the country – right here in Arizona too.
Capital Research has looked into CTCL and found that it spent $5 million in Arizona, $3 million of which went to Maricopa County led by Democrat County Recorder Adrian Fontes – essentially the electorally decisive county. And what happened in Maricopa County? Though Trump went from 590,465 votes in 2016 to 995,665 in 2020, he lost the county to Biden who somehow doubled Clinton’s 2016 performance, receiving 1,040,774 votes in 2020. This equaled $1.80 from the CTCL per Biden vote in Maricopa County.
But what kind of effect did Big Tech money, and especially Zuckerberg and the CTCL, actually have? It’s just as the Times article brags – “they got states to change voting systems and laws…” In Wisconsin, the Zuckerberg backed grant stipulated the submittal to CTCL and implementation of the “Wisconsin Safe Voting Plan” circumventing the role of the legislature and other elected bodies in the development of elections procedures. In Pennsylvania, the grants aided in the placement of a ballot drop box every four-square miles or for every 4,000 voters in Democrat strongholds compared to one drop box every 1,100 square miles or for every 72,000 voters in Republican strongholds.
This is the new Big Tech censorship. Though not removing someone from their platform, they drown out conservative votes by giving money to elections offices to drive up turnout in select locations while ignoring others. This creates a two-tier election system suppressing the turnout of voters Zuckerberg doesn’t like.
The left has complained about the role of money in elections. The hundreds of millions spent at local elections offices wasn’t philanthropy, it was a strategic investment with an expected return. The best approach to ensuring election integrity is a proactive one, but this election is over and we can’t go back, so it is time that states pass strong legislation prohibiting private, outside funding of election offices. Even the appearance of impropriety in elections is dangerous, so elections should be funded, directed, and guided by state governments not private organizations and especially not Big Tech.
Though the November 2020 election is over and the results a foregone conclusion, the pervasive distrust of the U.S. elections system continues to linger. After all, when voters are given $25 gift cards in exchange for their votes like they were in Nevada, a judge is caught taking bribes to stuff the ballot box in Philadelphia, and a woman is hired in California to run voter registration drives and is caught forging signatures and changing their party affiliations, there should be a consensus that voter fraud is real.
Something needs to be done. And though Arizona may not be the worst offender, our state still has plenty to do to improve our elections and rebuild trust.
The Arizona legislature has convened once again, and Republican lawmakers have seemed to hear their voters loud and clear – address election integrity and address it now. Dozens of bills have been introduced, attacking reform from different angles and reacting to the frustrations of Arizona voters in November. With so many competing ideas, it is necessary to prioritize reforms that offer the greatest security to our election system and are feasible to implement.
For the legislature to claim victory on election integrity for the 2021 legislative session, they must focus their reforms in four key areas:
- Maintain Clean and Current Voter Rolls
Once fraud is in the election system, it is extremely difficult to prove and root out. Ensuring voter rolls only contain current, legal residents who are qualified to vote is critically important. Currently, there is no standardization across all 15 Arizona counties to scrub voter lists of deceased persons, citizens who have changed residency, or duplicative voter files. Equally important is an independent audit of this practice to ensure it is actually being done. Though legislators may trust every county recorder to follow the law, good policy ensures verification.
- Protect Mail-In Ballots
Mail-in voting is inherently more vulnerable to mistake, mishap, and mischief. Due to the delay and distance of a voter receiving their ballot and the tabulation of that ballot, extra security measures are necessary to protect this method of voting.
No doubt, early mail-in voting is popular in Arizona and efforts to eliminate the system are impractical and unnecessary. However, additional verification for early mail-in ballots is a good idea and lawmakers should focus reform in this area.
- Ensure Legislative Oversight
Election integrity is a matter of statewide concern and therefore is a legislative concern. Many Arizona voters were understandably frustrated at how seemingly little power the legislature had to intervene and require an audit of the 2020 election results.
Not only should election procedures be standardized across all counties in Arizona, but the legislature needs to be empowered to oversee election practices, results, and compliance.
- Prohibit Outside Influence
In the past, election officers have been permitted to use internal or external resources to sway the outcome of an election. These practices aren’t illegal, but they should be. Whether that is using taxpayer money to target voter registration activities, using third party lists to target potential voters, or accepting money from outside organizations with a political agenda, this must be eliminated. Curing voter distrust includes ensuring government can’t put their thumb on the scale of election results.
Election integrity is a top priority of Republicans at the legislature this year. But success will not be measured by the volume of election integrity bills that get passed, but by their quality. Bills concentrated in each of these areas of reform will help improve the credibility, transparency, and security of our elections.
Lea Márquez Peterson was elected to the Arizona Corporation Commission this past November, running as a Republican. But it didn’t take long before she threw the 1.4 million people who voted for her completely under the bus.
Earlier this week, in a surprise move, Márquez Peterson voted for herself to serve as chair of the five-member commission. And who do you think voted with her to ensure she won the top seat? Democrats Sandra Kennedy and Anna Tovar.
In this position, Márquez Peterson will set meeting agendas, run meetings, and set the overall tone of the commission. But normally, the role of chair goes to the person who has served the longest, which in this case would have been Conservative Republican Justin Olson.
But not this year.
Apparently, Márquez Peterson made a New Year’s resolution to gain more power and control. But at what cost? And what kind of deal did Márquez Peterson make with the Democrats to gain such a position?
A “Green New Deal” perhaps?
The role of the Arizona Corporation Commission is to set rates and policies for utilities. And right now, the commission is in the process of developing a “clean energy” plan that looks to ban fossil fuels by 2050. In essence, they are trying to pass the Green New Deal right here in Arizona. And who do you think has served as a key swing vote to drive such measures? Lea Márquez Peterson.
A Green New Deal in Arizona would mean less reliability, higher rates, and millions of corporate welfare dollars going to special interest groups. But that’s not all…
You can also expect to see more California-style blackouts just like this past summer. Do you remember those?
In August 2020, California’s electricity grid was under an immense strain. And because of that, the state instituted its first intentional rolling blackouts since 2001. And the state’s residents were also asked to conserve electricity during a significant heatwave this past summer.
Now, imagine that possibility when it’s 110 degrees in Phoenix. And imagine being forced to pay more money out of your pocket for it.
If “Green New Deal” Lea gets her way, that’s where we’re headed.
But perhaps she doesn’t care that she betrayed every Republican that voted for her this past November. Perhaps she’s ok with it, so she can have more power, control, and whatever else the Democrats have promised her.
Lea Márquez Peterson sold out. And now the people of Arizona live under threat of the Green New Deal passing.
Somewhere, Bernie Sanders and AOC must be smiling.