PHOENIX — The Arizona Senate on Monday rejected other election bills, many of which create criminal penalties for missteps by election officials that stem from Senate Republicans’ scrutiny of the 2020 election.
The failure of more than half a dozen election bills came amid a tense row between Republicans who most supported and opposed partisan scrutiny of the election. It was the third time in a week that a swath of election bills had died amid opposition from one or two Republicans and all Democrats, leaving them without a majority.
Among the bills killed on Monday were measures that would have created new criminal charges for a variety of missteps by election workers and contractors; created new rights for election observers, including the right to question election officials during the count; establishing new requirements for post-election audits and record keeping; required a unique serial number on each ballot.
They also rejected a bill requiring the public display of registered voters and images of all ballots without linking the images of the ballots to the voters who cast them.
Most of the bills were defeated by Republican Senators Michelle Ugenti-Rita of Scottsdale, Paul Boyer of Glendale or both, working with the 14 Democrats. The GOP has a narrow 16-14 majority in the 30-member Senate, so any Republican’s opposition is enough to sink a bill if Democrats are united against it.
Boyer and Ugenti-Rita strongly criticized the 2020 election review conducted on behalf of GOP Senate leaders by Cyber Ninjas, a Florida-based cybersecurity firm owned by a Donald Trump supporter who espoused false claims about the election. Examination of ballots and election records in Maricopa County confirmed President Joe Biden’s victory in Metro Phoenix, but made various allegations of irregularities that have been largely debunked.
Boyer and Ugenti-Rita’s opposition sunk several other election bills last week. They did not explain their opposition to each measure but described several of them as impractical, unnecessary or redundant.
Tensions rose at times on Monday as supporters of the measures, including Republican Senators Kelly Townsend of Apache Junction and Sonny Borrelli of Lake Havasu City, accused critics of their bills of acting in bad faith. They said their bills would restore confidence in elections.
The bills could be revived before the end of the legislative session if opponents change their minds.