The Far-Left Has No Case Against Voter Registration Laws, So Now They’re Crying Racism

The Far-Left Has No Case Against Voter Registration Laws, So Now They’re Crying Racism

When all else fails, cry racism. That seems to be the playbook the Far-Left utilizes any time it can’t make a coherent argument against election integrity laws. And here we are once again. The latest accusations of racism come amidst a series of depositions along with closing arguments in a lawsuit filed by a cabal of liberal organizations against two commonsense voter registration laws: HB 2243 and HB 2492.

Passed in 2022 and signed by then-Governor Ducey, HB 2243 ensures that only eligible voters remain registered by requiring regular voter roll maintenance. And so far, it has proven to be effective—revealing that over 78,000 individuals have been identified on Arizona’s voter rolls as either noncitizens or nonresidents. When you consider how close some of our state’s races were in 2022, these numbers should be great cause for alarm. But of course, many of those close races went in favor of Democrats, so the Left doesn’t want to ask too many questions.

HB 2492, which was also passed in 2022 and signed by then-Governor Ducey, bolsters safeguards to our voter registration process to require proof of citizenship ensuring that only U.S. citizens are voting in our elections. Where’s the controversy here? U.S. citizens cannot go into France, Australia, or any other country throughout the world and vote in their elections, so why should citizens from other countries be allowed to vote in our elections?

Not too long after both bills were signed into law, the Left filed a lawsuit against them and recently made a part of the proceedings about…the Arizona Free Enterprise Club (who is not a party in the lawsuit). That’s right. After apparently failing to construct sound legal arguments against HB 2243 and HB 2492, they have now embarked on a fishing expedition to harass the Club with ridiculous lawfare subpoenas. They spent countless hours deposing Senate President Warren Petersen and House Speaker Ben Toma in an effort to convince the judge that our organization was inappropriately exerting influence to pass both bills in a “racially-charged manner.” One Leftist group even submitted a claim complaining that the Free Enterprise Club is just too big and powerful and had an “outsized influence” on the process.

But contrary to the claims made by the Left, it was never a secret that the Club was involved in crafting and advocating for both bills. In fact, our role was out in the open, evident by the many articles we wrote on each bill (See here, here, here, and here for a sample.) On top of that, we testified in support of both bills at the legislature.

And after all this harassment, depositions, review of documents, and more, do you want to know what their “proof” is that these bills were racially motivated? In one of our articles, we used the word “Illegals” when explaining the need to provide proof of citizenship when registering to vote. That’s it. That’s their big smoking gun.

The fact that these absurd racism charges have become a focal point of their lawsuit only demonstrates how weak the Left’s case is against these laws.

These Far-Left groups know that they can attacks us with lawfare subpoenas, allege that our policy and advocacy efforts at the legislature are somehow nefarious, and make despicable accusations that our activities are racially motivated (with no evidence) because we can’t defend ourselves. So rather than engaging on policy or legal merits, the Left once again resorts to impugning our organization, hoping that some of the mud it’s slinging will stick.

As we have stated all along, these commonsense and reasonable laws are strong and necessary in a nation where more and more people are losing trust in the U.S. election system. That’s why the Arizona legislature passed them. That’s why then-Governor Ducey signed them. And that’s why Arizona’s election system has improved and will continue to improve with these laws on the books.

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Arizona’s Voter Rolls Need a Massive Clean Up

Arizona’s Voter Rolls Need a Massive Clean Up

We’re less than a year away from our next election, and if Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes is serious about doing his job, his primary focus should be on ensuring a process where it is easy to vote and hard to cheat. Instead, Fontes has been attempting to implement an Elections Procedures Manual (EPM) that is ripe with unlawful provisions all while ignoring a giant (and growing) elephant in the room.

In its last two quarterly reports to the Arizona state legislature, the Secretary of State’s office reported that over 78,000 individuals have been identified on our state’s voter rolls as noncitizens or nonresidents. This number includes:

    • Over 53,200 individuals who were reported to have been issued a driver’s license or the equivalent of an Arizona nonoperating license ID in another state.
    • Over 1,300 individuals who admitted to not being a U.S. citizen on a jury questionnaire.
    • Over 23,600 individuals who admitted to not being a resident of a county on a jury questionnaire.

These numbers should be great cause for alarm—especially when you consider how close some of our state’s races were in 2022—and these individuals should be immediately removed from our state’s voter rolls. So, what did Fontes do in response to this news? Nothing. That’s right. The Secretary of State’s office simply disclosed that a process for sending notices to these individuals, placing their voter registrations on inactive status, or canceling their voter registrations was “in development.”

How convenient.

But Fontes can’t hide for long. The fact is that these voter roll issues came to light because of two bills backed by the Free Enterprise Club and signed into law by then-Governor Ducey last year: HB 2492 and HB 2243. HB 2492 is a commonsense law that cracks down on state voter registration applications that do not include proof of citizenship. HB 2243 ensures regular voter list maintenance and helped uncover these most recent issues due to provisions in the bill that:

    • Require the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) to furnish a list of people who have been issued a driver’s license in another state to the Secretary of State.
    • Direct the Secretary of State to report the number from ADOT (above) to the state legislature at the end of each quarter.
    • Direct the Secretary of State to report to the state legislature at the end of each quarter the number of people who have stated on a jury questionnaire that they are not U.S. citizens or not residents of the county.

With these provisions in mind, it’s clear that the number of noncitizens and nonresidents on our state’s voter rolls will continue to grow after each quarterly report is provided. That’s why it is essential to address these issues immediately. But the Left has proven time and time again that they will fight against every legitimate election reform that comes from conservatives. So, the Biden administration and a consortium of liberal organizations filed a lawsuit against HB 2492 and HB 2243. They are terrified of these commonsense laws and want to prevent them from taking effect by wrapping them up in litigation. It’s just another example of how the Left hates any form of true election integrity. And they will do whatever it takes to prevent it—including wasting time and your taxpayer dollars in court.

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Voters Should Think Twice Before Approving Billions in Unwise and Unnecessary K-12 Bonds

Voters Should Think Twice Before Approving Billions in Unwise and Unnecessary K-12 Bonds

K-12 schools in Arizona are currently flush with cash. Between billions in increased state spending from the legislature, COVID cash from the feds, and declining student populations, district school spending is at an all time high. But next week, voters across Arizona will decide the fate of 23 bond requests from schools that total a historic $3.5 billion.

This level of borrowing being sought by local school districts is both unwise and unnecessary, especially given the large amounts of money that have been pumped into the system. State funding has increased so quickly in the last 36 months that the legislature decided to override the constitutional spending limit the last two fiscal years. This is funding over and above the formulaic cap in the constitution that exists to protect taxpayers from runaway and unaccountable spending.

And contrary to what you probably hear from teachers’ unions and their sycophant friends in the media, lawmakers continue to increase school spending with every state budget. With all this new spending, district schools receive more money per student than ever before, and it’s not even close.

Not included in the state spending cap, however, are federal funds. And when schools were shut down during COVID, the federal government poured trillions of dollars into them. Many of the school districts asking their taxpayers to hand over hundreds of millions of dollars in bonds next week are still sitting on a pile of unspent COVID cash.

Compounding the unnecessary nature of these bond requests is that many of these districts are losing students. In other words, they want to borrow more money to spend on fewer students. That translates into absurdly high requests when broken down per student.

In fact, according to the Arizona Tax Research Association, the lowest request is in Yuma and represents $2,200 per student. On the other extreme, however, is the Osborn School District bond which represents nearly $40,000 per student!

Some of the biggest asks include the $500 million Mesa Public Schools is seeking, $475 million in Phoenix, and $100 million in Gilbert. These requests are almost the size of their entire budgets which last year totaled $815,511,989 (a 20% increase from the year prior), $401,013,567, and $382,732,528 respectively.

No doubt these bonds will have major budget and tax implications in the near future. Yet the campaigns in support of these bonds are telling voters that taking on hundreds of millions in new debt (with sky-high interest rates) will keep their tax bills the same. That of course is not true.  All voters need to do is read the first few pages in their publicity pamphlet to see that households will be paying hundreds of dollars (and in some cases thousands) more in property taxes each year.

All this while we have teachers that chant “Hail Satan” in classrooms, schools that fail to protect students from using bathrooms with other students of the opposite sex, and districts that infringe on their own school board members’ freedom of religion and speech. And those are examples from just the last month!

The good news is that voters no longer simply rubber stamp these requests on the off year, all mail elections. Just a few years ago, voters barely approved Mesa’s $300 million bond and rejected the budget override. Last year, nearly half of the requests were rejected by voters. Taxpayers are right to be suspicious of these asks and should follow their instincts when filling out their ballots.

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Unstaffed Drop Boxes Jeopardize the Safety and Security of Our Elections

Unstaffed Drop Boxes Jeopardize the Safety and Security of Our Elections

Following in the footsteps of his predecessor (now-Governor Katie Hobbs), Secretary of State Adrian Fontes appears determined to implement an Election Procedures Manual (EPM) that is ripe with unlawful provisions. The EPM is used by election officials throughout the state as the rulebook to conduct and run elections, so it is critically important that every provision in the manual strictly adheres to state law.

Now, fresh off an important legal win over the illegal signature verification process in the EPM, the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, along with the Thomas More Society, is suing Fontes once again—this time over unstaffed ballot drop boxes.

An Illegal Method of Voting

Arizona law establishes four different methods for secure early voting. According to A.R.S. § 16-548(A), an early ballot shall either be:

  1. Delivered to the officer in charge of elections, typically the county recorder.
  2. Mailed to the officer in charge of elections, typically the county recorder.
  3. Deposited by the voter at any polling place in the county.
  4. Deposited by the voter’s agent (family member, household member, caregiver) at any polling place in the county.

Did you catch that? Nowhere in the law does it allow for the use of unstaffed drop boxes. In fact, if you read through Fontes’ EPM, you’ll notice something. Although the EPM includes over 1,000 citations, the section on its unstaffed drop box scheme includes zero citations of Arizona law! You can see for yourself right here. And yet, Fontes still moved forward with this invented option in the final draft of the EPM he submitted to Governor Hobbs and Attorney General Mayes. But the omission of such citations is only one problem with drop boxes.

Drop Boxes Lack the Protections of the USPS

Unlike U.S. Postal Service (USPS) mail collection boxes, unstaffed drop boxes don’t enjoy special protections under federal law that could lead to prison sentences for crimes like obstruction of mail passage, destruction of mail, and vandalism of a mailbox. On top of that, these unstaffed drop boxes aren’t required to have locks. Instead, they are “secured” with a “tamper-evident seal.” (Who could get past such a fortress of security?) And, while the USPS requires mail carriers to take an oath of fidelity to the Constitution, Fontes’ EPM creates the position of “ballot retriever.” Do you know what it takes to qualify as a “ballot retriever”? An individual simply needs to wear a badge when performing his or her duties! That’s it! It’s right there in the EPM.

Then, there’s the simple fact that USPS mailboxes offer an additional level of security because they can contain different varieties of mail at any given time. This makes it impossible for a bad actor to know whether a particular mailbox contains early voted ballots. By contrast, an unstaffed drop box contains only completed ballots, providing anyone who wants to interfere with an election the certainty to know that the contents of the drop box likely contain a significant number of completed ballots.

Other Issues with Drop Boxes

Along with lacking the protections of the USPS, unstaffed drop boxes also increase the possibility of voter intimidation. After all, when a person approaches a drop box, it’s clear that he or she has no reason to be there except to deliver a voted ballot. This makes that person an easy and vulnerable target, which is much less likely to occur at a mailbox or an election official’s office.  

And finally, there’s the issue of unsecure locations. Fontes’ EPM doesn’t require unstaffed drop boxes to be located at or near a government building. Because of this drop boxes have been established at churches, elementary schools, restaurants, bookstores, humane societies, and more. In fact, some drop boxes in Yavapai County have been placed at U.S. Postal Offices—mere feet away from a mailbox where voters could legally return their ballots. (You can’t make this stuff up…)

For all these reasons and more, the Free Enterprise Club filed a lawsuit last week in the Yavapai County Superior Court. The use of drop boxes must be in accordance with state law, and we are hopeful that our lawsuit will result in election officials ending their use at illegal unstaffed locations for the 2024 election. This would give the people of Arizona exactly what they want: elections where it is easy to vote and hard to cheat.

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New Mexico Gun Grab Emergency Order Reminds Us Why HCR2039 Is Necessary

New Mexico Gun Grab Emergency Order Reminds Us Why HCR2039 Is Necessary

“The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Unless you are New Mexico Governor Lujan Grisham, who thinks she can just declare a public health emergency and ignore what the Constitution says. Yes, in her view, she can declare an emergency and then all “rights” are on the table, and she is free to suspend them as she wishes.

Thankfully, this was too far for even anti-gun politicians like Rep. Ted Lieu from California and New Mexico’s own Attorney General who said he would not defend the declaration in court. In other words, it was so clearly unconstitutional that even the most radical gun control advocates distanced themselves from it.

Abuses of Emergency Powers During COVID

But it is an important reminder of the abuse of emergency powers we all experienced during COVID, and why it is critical to rein in these powers. While it’s clearly unconstitutional to suspend the 2nd amendment with an emergency declaration, most states over the last 100 years have granted extremely broad powers to the executive branch to declare so-called public health “emergencies.” These powers are usually enshrined in state law, and they have largely been upheld by courts as constitutional.

Arizona was not and is not immune from this. Here, the “emergency” declaration in response to COVID was not officially terminated until March 30, 2022, 749 days after it was first declared. During that time, businesses were closed, students were required to wear masks, and people were prevented from seeing loved ones in hospitals.

Many lawmakers wanted to halt the emergency declaration almost immediately, but quickly discovered that if they wanted to end the emergency outside of regular session, they needed 2/3 of the body to call a special session. And if the legislature was called into session, they were powerless at stopping local governments and Charter cities like Tucson or Phoenix from declaring their own state of emergency if the statewide emergency was terminated. It was quickly determined that without significant emergency powers reform, our freedoms and liberties will remain under threat from overreaching government.

States Need to Restrict Emergency Powers, and That Is What HCR2039 Will Do

Earlier this year, Justice Gorsuch wrote, “Since March 2020, we may have experienced the greatest intrusion on civil liberties in the peacetime history of this country” and “it is hard not to wonder, too, whether state legislatures might profitably reexamine the proper scope of emergency executive powers at the state level.” Thankfully, that is exactly what our legislature did in passing HCR2039, allowing the people to amend the constitution to ensure no future “emergency” declaration is without end and without a proper check from the legislature.

If passed by the voters in 2024, HCR2039 would constitutionally limit emergency powers of the Governor and provide the legislature with the authority to roll back any emergency declared in the state. HCR2039 would:

    • Require automatic termination of an emergency declaration by a Governor 30 days after it is declared.
    • Empower the legislature to call itself into a special session immediately after an emergency declaration by a Governor with just one third of the body.
    • Allow the legislature to alter, limit or roll back an emergency declaration at any time after it is declared.

HCR2039 Does Not Confer Any New Emergency Powers

Some believe that all emergency statutes are unconstitutional in the first place because they are not enumerated in the state constitution. That’s not true because states have inherent police powers, including for the protection of public health and safety.  That is why existing emergency powers statutes in Arizona have largely been upheld by the courts. Whether the Arizona Constitution makes mention of “emergency powers” or not, the legislature has the authority to prescribe the powers and duties of the Governor, including the ability to respond to emergencies. In other words, all powers not delegated to the federal government by the Constitution nor prohibited by it to the states under the 10thAmendment, are reserved to the states.

HCR2039 Is Supported by Conservatives and Opposed by the Radical Left

This pro liberty ballot measure was supported unanimously by conservative lawmakers and has the support of freedom-minded groups including the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, Goldwater Institute, Republican Liberty Caucus of Arizona, and EZAZ. Conversely, it was unanimously opposed by all Democrat lawmakers and by liberal pro-lockdown organizations including the Arizona Public Health Association, Civic Engagement Beyond Voting, National Organization for Women, the Sierra Club, and Arizona Center for Economic Progress.

Before the next “emergency,” it’s imperative that Arizonans enshrine a strong constitutional limit on the powers the legislature can delegate to the Governor to respond.

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Unstaffed Drop Boxes Jeopardize the Safety and Security of Our Elections

The Initiative Proposing Jungle Primaries and Ranked Choice Voting Is as Confusing as Expected

For months we have been hearing that a small group of disgruntled political consultants and power-hungry politicians would be releasing their plan to scrap our century-old primary and general election system in favor of a confusing jungle primary/ranked choice voting scheme that will disenfranchise voters and empower special interests.

Well last week a group called “Save Democracy Arizona” rolled out their proposed election reform ballot initiative, and it is about as dysfunctional a plan as what we expected.  

Reading through their proposed constitutional amendment, a sprawling 4 pages of poorly written language drafted in secret, it is abundantly clear that this won’t make elections any more transparent or fair except for the special interests who support it. And it does far more to disenfranchise voters and destroy democracy than actually save it.

The first major change included in the proposed initiative is the creation of a jungle primary. If this sounds familiar, that may be because California uses a jungle primary system. That’s right, we are now importing California solutions to “fix” our electoral process. Plus, voters in Arizona overwhelmingly rejected a jungle primary ballot measure a decade ago.

Under a jungle primary, every candidate—Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, No Label Party, and Independents—would now appear on the same “primary election” ballot. The winners of the primary then would advance to the general election.

Who gets to decide who the primary winner is? The legislature, who can allow as little as two and as many as eight candidates to advance to the general. If they decide to allow three or more, the legislature must then allow for the ranking of those candidates—thus implementing Ranked Choice Voting (RCV).

So, the measure includes both California-stye jungle primaries and Alaska-style ranked choice voting, all built on the same baseless and flawed complaints about our election system that they have been making for years.

They argue that primary elections result in divisiveness, leading to a small fraction of the most partisan voters determining the outcome of elections. But California Democrats quickly learned the same was true for Jungle Primaries after their voters enacted it, where candidates from only one party advance to the general election ballot in some races, stripping voters of any choice at all.

On top of this, Jungle Primary proponents argue that independent voters (now a third in Arizona) don’t have a voice in the process. But independents do get to vote in our primary elections now, they just have to decide whether they want to vote in the Republican or the Democrat primary – not both.  Plus, Independent candidates get to bypass a primary election altogether, collecting more signatures but then advancing straight to the general election ballot—a pathway that partisan candidates can’t pursue.

Finally, one third of voters being “independent” means that two thirds, a supermajority, do associate with a political party. So, this whole multimillion dollar effort to completely change our elections is purportedly built on a block of voters, in the extreme minority, that campaigns spend significant amounts of time and money courting in every election.

In other words, these voters are not ignored, and they do have a voice—arguably an outsized one. The truth is that Jungle Primaries and RCV aren’t for independents. They’re for special interests who can’t win elections without changing the system.

The good news is that despite months and months of planning, the proponents are divided and have split. Just days after Save Democracy filed “Make Elections Fair,” Voter Choice AZ announced they will not be supporting it and will instead move forward with filing their own initiative.

For either to be successful, they’ll need to compete to raise millions to collect the necessary 383,923 signatures, plus a couple hundred thousand safety net. And then they will have to convince voters to support it—voters who have been hearing about the problems of RCV for months.

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Arizona needs to have a unified voice promoting economic freedom and prosperity, and the Free Enterprise Club is committed to making that happen. But we can’t do it alone. We need YOU!

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