Arizona Panel Backs Dropping Voting Machines

A few Republicans join Democrats in resisting hand counts, Sharpie bans, and 'magic paper'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 14, 2022 7:36 PM CST
Arizona Panel Backs Counting All Ballots by Hand
Maricopa County ballots cast in the 2020 general election are stored in a secure area to be recounted by Cyber Ninjas last May in Phoenix.   (AP Photo/Matt York, Pool)

Republican state senators on Monday advanced legislation that would require every ballot cast in Arizona's elections to be counted by hand, with GOP proponents who embraced former President Donald Trump's false narrative of massive voter fraud calling it a needed reform. The proposal was approved Monday by the Senate Government Committee on a 4-3 vote with no Democratic support, the AP reports. The measure is one of scores of election bills making their way through the Legislature. Democrats in the committee hearing said little about the bills Monday. "You’re not going to persuade these folks, and these ideas are so crazy that it’s like it's not even worth arguing against," Sen. Martin Quezada said.

"This does away with the machines," said the sponsor, Republican Sen. Wendy Rogers. She said the idea was inspired by Doug Logan, whose Cyber Ninjas firm recounted 2.1 million Maricopa County ballots last spring and told Rogers that "the more technology we use, the more chance there is to cheat." Logan's recount by hand took hundreds of people, lasted weeks, and only recounted the presidential and US Senate races. He confirmed that President Biden won, as the original machine count had found. Jen Marson, executive director of the Arizona Association of Counties, said the proposal was simply unworkable. "We cannot get enough people in many of our counties to conduct the limited hand count that happens post-election," Marson told the panel.

Other bills taken up Monday would ban the required use of Sharpies and eliminate voting by mail, which is the way most Arizona voters cast ballots. A few Republican leaders are not going along with the bills. "So I'm not voting to decertify, I'm not voting for the 17 tests and the magic paper," GOP Sen. Paul Boyer said last week, referring to a plan to add ballot paper security measures. "I'm not voting to get rid of early voting. I'm not voting to prohibit all-mail ballots for schools, school elections. What else was out there?" And Republican House Speaker Rusty Bowers assigned a GOP member's plan to eliminate mail-in voting and require hand counts to be completed in one day to 12 different committees. (More Arizona stories.)

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