PHOENIX — As the legal battles to save the Trump presidency fizzle out, Republican legislators are beginning to turn their attention to battles they might be able to win.
In Arizona, that means attempting to place new regulations on voting by mail. Eighty percent of the 3.2 million Arizonans who voted in November received their ballot by mail. But a significant number, approximately 240,000 voters, dropped off their ballots at polling sites on election day.
“With a polling place ballot the chain of custody is with the voter at all times,” ABC 15 Elections Expert Garrett Archer said. “They’re the ones that feed it through the tabulator and so they’re responsible for any errors.”
The chain of custody changes when voters drops off their mail ballot at a polling location. County election officials have to verify signatures and intent.
“It slows the process down,” says State Senator Michelle Ugenti-Rita (R ) Scottsdale-Fountain Hills District 23, “delaying results and breeding apprehension and skepticism.”
Ugenti-Rita will hold a virtual hearing on December 14, of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to investigate if there was any fraud in Arizona’s election.
The State Republican Party has tried to make the case in court on seven different occasions. Seven separate judges said there was no evidence to support the fraud claims.
“What they want to do is create a narrative outside the scope of the courtroom,” says election law attorney Tom Ryan, “and create a basis for enacting legislation that will further disenfranchise voters.”
The hearing will not change the outcome of the November election. State electors will vote for President-Elect Joe Biden Monday.
State Senator Martin Quezada, (D) Phoenix District 29, is a member of the Judiciary Committee.
“There aren’t any issues because our elections are really legitimate, accurate and fair,” he says. “They’re going to use this to cast doubt in the public and try to create bills and laws that will make it more difficult to vote.”
Bills to regulate ballot by mail voting and toughen the existing ballot harvesting law which will be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court early next year are being prepared for the start of the session.
Moderate Republicans stood in the way of recent attempts to restrict voting in Arizona, but this time a bill might actually make it to the governor’s desk.
When he certified the election last month, Governor Ducey said, “We do elections well here in Arizona. The system is strong and that’s why I bragged on it so much.”
Democrats hope he will still be bragging come springtime.