- Arizona state Rep. John Fillmore proposed a bill that would curb no-excuse early voting measures.
- Fillmore wants all ballots to be counted by hand, with a deadline 24 hours after polls close.
- Arizona has been a focus of Trump-driven conspiracy theories regarding the 2020 election results.
A conservative Arizona lawmaker this week introduced legislation that would curb no-excuse early voting — which has long been a popular option for state voters — and would mandate that every ballot cast be counted by hand no later than 24 hours after precincts close on Election Day, according to The Arizona Republic.
The legislator, state Rep. John Fillmore of Apache Junction, put forward House Bill 2596 in order to give increased oversight of elections to lawmakers, which he said would adhere more closely with the state constitution, per Capitol Media Services.
The bill as written would eliminate the use of electronic voting machines or tabulators in Arizona elections.
In 1991, the state legislature permitted voters the ability to vote by mail without providing an excuse, according to Arizona Public Media.
“We should have voting, in my opinion, in person, one day on paper, with no electronic means and hand counting that day,” Fillmore said on Wednesday when discussing the bill. “We need to get back to 1958-style voting.”
In the late 1950s, Jim Crow-era literacy tests were still employed to prevent Black citizens from participating in elections; the 24th Amendment, which was ratified by the states in 1964, banned the use of poll taxes as a prerequisite for voting.
The Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965, which was overwhelmingly passed by Congress, barred discriminatory voting practices in the US. Fillmore told Capitol Media Services after the hearing that he did not support a reversion to electoral practices that were allowed before the passage of the VRA.
One of the most consequential elements of Fillmore’s proposal would allow the legislature to overturn election results from legislative races, along with congressional and statewide contests.
The proposal is currently written to give the legislature the ability to commence a session after an election to “review the ballot tabulating process,” adding that “any qualified elector may file an action” in Arizona’s Superior Court to petition for a new election if the legislature rejects the results.
Arizona — a longtime Republican bastion that in recent years has morphed into a Southwestern swing state — has been ground zero for some of former President Donald Trump’s debunked conspiracy theories regarding the 2020 election results.
While most Arizona officials have long contended that there was no electoral malfeasance at the local level, Trump and many Republicans across the country have continued to promote the claim that the vote was tainted, notably in Maricopa County, the state’s most populous jurisdiction and one that voted for Biden after decades of backing GOP presidential nominees.
For over a year, Trump has been at odds with Gov. Doug Ducey over the certification state’s results, telling a large rally crowd earlier this month that he would “never” back the Republican if he jumped into the state’s 2022 Senate GOP primary.
A Maricopa election audit that was widely touted by Republicans nationwide last year reaffirmed Biden’s countywide victory over Trump.
Fillmore said during the Wednesday hearing that he lacked confidence in the results due to “serious concerns” that he feels were not addressed.
“I don’t care what the press says. I don’t trust ABC, CBS, NBC or Fox or anybody out there. Everybody’s lying to me and I feel like I have a couple hundred ex-wives hanging around me,” he said.
He continued: “This is not a President Biden thing. This is not the other red-headed guy thing.”
In the 2020 election, Biden became the first Democratic presidential nominee since Bill Clinton in 1996 to win Arizona, edging out Trump by 10,457 votes out of nearly 3.4 million ballots cast.