Two Republican election bills die on Arizona governor’s desk | Courthouse News Service
Wednesday, November 29, 2023
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Two Republican election bills die on Arizona governor’s desk

Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs has been clear with Republicans that she’ll veto any bills based on unfounded claims and conspiracy theories, like the dozens of election bills still on the way to her desk.

PHOENIX (CN) — Making due on her promise to veto bills based on stolen election conspiracy theories, Arizona governor Katie Hobbs on Thursday reportedly killed a bill that would establish specific signature verification rules to confirm the identity of early voters. 

But while the bill comes from a Republican lawmaker, the signature verification rules come right from Hobbs – she wrote them in 2022 when she served as Arizona’s Secretary of State. 

HB2322, sponsored by state Representative Alexander Kolodin, a Republican from Scottsdale, would have codified Hobbs’ 2020 ballot signature verification guide into state law. 

The guide gives directions to election workers on what to look for when comparing the signature on a voter’s early ballot to the signature on another federal document that belongs to them. It includes a two-step verification that evaluates signature characteristics like letter spacing, size and proportions, writing slant and spelling.

The bill is one of dozens of bills sponsored by conservative lawmakers who say they will improve election security as unfounded claims of fraud still circulate the nation. But unlike most, this bill passed through the House with bipartisan support, garnering 16 votes from House Democrats in February. It passed through the Senate on Tuesday along party lines.

In a news release Thursday, Kolodin said the bill had been vetoed. Hobbs' veto letter wasn't available on her website at press time, and her office couldn't be immediately reached for comment.

“When Governor Katie Hobbs took office, she said that she’d ‘find common ground’ and work across party lines,” Kolodin said in a press release. “What ground could be more common than making her own rules the law? 

“Instead, her veto letter for HB 2322, for which 16 Democratic House members voted, indicates that instead of legally enforceable rules, she would like ‘ongoing’ signature verification ‘guidance’ that is non-binding and can be changed on a whim by a single person. That is hardly democratic - or sober and responsible governance.”

Hobbs on Wednesday also nixed a bill that would have codified state support for the Electoral College.

The 25th bill the Democratic governor has vetoed since her term began in January, HB2477 “affirms the importance of the Electoral College for presidential elections in this country.” 

The bill’s sponsor, Republican state Representative Steve Montenegro from Goodyear, listed in the bill three reasons to support the Electoral College: The Founding Fathers thought it was the best method, it ensures all parts of the country are represented equally, and it guarantees certainty to the outcome of the election.

Unfortunately for Montenegro and other Republican supporters though, those reasons weren’t enough to attract Hobbs’ pen.

And Francisco Pedraza, a political science professor at Arizona State University, said the Founding Fathers had more on their mind than Montenegro let on in the bill.

“The political rationale behind it was, there was a need for former slave owning states to protect their power.”

Pedraza said the Electoral College, a voting system in which each state gets a number of votes toward the presidency based on population, “cushioned” the voice of southern states to ensure their influence over the rest of the country.

Montenegro told the House elections committee in January that passing the bill would “beef up” the power of small states compared to large ones.

Republicans on the committee supported the bill, arguing that without the Electoral College, states with large populations like California, Florida and New York would essentially control the elections, and people in smaller states would lose their voices. 

“It’s a way to say, ‘We want the outsized voice that we currently get to stay,’” Pedraza said, adding Hobbs' veto tells Republican lawmakers, “We’ve already got this. There’s no need to affirm it.”

To Democrats against the bill, ceding more power to large states only means giving more equality to the vote.

“I believe in the principle of ‘one person, one vote,’ and the person who gets the most votes should win,” state Representative Oscar De Los Santos, a Democrat from Laveen, said in the January committee meeting. 

Only two presidents in recent history have won the election despite losing the popular vote: George W. Bush and Donald Trump. Both controversial in their own way during their terms, Pedraza said opposing the bill could be a way to signal that there are issues with the nation’s electoral system.

“There is a progressive motivated reason for doing away with the Electoral College because it’s out of sync with what the popular vote is,” he said.

The bill passed the House on a 31-29 vote in February, and passed the state Senate just last week 16-13 with one abstention. Republicans and Democrats split on both votes.

Montenegro didn't respond to requests for comment. 

Former Governor Janet Napolitano, also a Democrat, vetoed 58 bills in the Republican-controlled Legislature in 2006 — the most in state history. With 26 vetoes already under her belt, Hobbs may be on her way to break that record this year. 

Hobbs has been clear with Republicans that she’ll veto any bills based on unfounded claims and conspiracy theories, like the dozens of election bills that have been slowly making their way to her desk since January. In March, she vetoed a bill that would prohibit public schools from teaching critical race theory after no evidence graduate-level legal framework is even being taught in Arizona schools was presented. Republicans seem unbothered, as they continue to push through culture war bills targeting diversity efforts and gender identity issues.

It's doubtful those bills will make it past Hobbs' desk either.

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Categories / Politics, Regional

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