Arizona GOP looks to pressure Congress against supporting Democratic election overhaul

By Cole Lauterbach | The Center Square Feb 26, 2021

(The Center Square) – The Arizona Legislature is in the process of sending a message to Washington that it opposes the For the People Act.

House Concurrent Resolution 2023 has survived two committees along party-line votes and needs an additional floor vote before being considered in the Arizona Senate. Lawmakers recommended passage from a Committee of the Whole on Thursday. 

It affirms the Legislature “oppose[s] any attempt by the federal government to usurp, or otherwise interfere with, the state legislative sovereign authority over the management, control and administration of elections,” and notifies Congress of its opposition to House Resolution 1.

If enacted, HR 1 would require automatic voter registration upon interacting with any of several state agencies unless the person “opts-out” of signing up, expand early voting and vote-by-mail provisions, limit anonymous donations to many nonprofits who are allowed to spend a portion of their funds on political activity, legalize what’s commonly called “ballot harvesting,” create taxpayer-funded campaign matching programs, allow felons who complete their sentence to vote, prohibit voter roll purging and institute independent redistricting. 

Supporters say the bill would remove hurdles to participating in the democratic process. Opponents say it federalizes election laws the Constitution delegates to states.

Lead sponsor Rep. Jake Hoffman, R-Queen Creek, said Thursday the elections reform bill contains many problematic changes.

“It allows for taxpayer-funded campaigns for federal office,” he said. “In that taxpayer funding, it also allows for federal candidates to draw a salary of upwards of half-a-million dollars off of that taxpayer-funded campaign.”

Democrats uniformly opposed Hoffman’s resolution, saying HR 1 would give disenfranchised voters a voice.

“We have a duty to stand up for all voices, especially the most vulnerable,” said Rep. Athena Salman, D-Tempe.

Arizona’s role in the fate of the federal bill is significant. U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Arizona, was one of two Democrats to deny her party enough votes to abolish the filibuster. Without her support to get rid of the parliamentary procedure, HR 1 is unlikely to make it to President Joe Biden’s desk since it increases the Senate’s required vote threshold to 60, several beyond the thin Democratic majority.

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