Republican Arizona Senator Michelle Ugenti-Rita has killed an election integrity bill put forward by fellow State Senator Kelly Townsend, who plans to reconsider it.
SB1241, which was set for its third reading in the Senate on Tuesday, contained over 34 various election integrity measures, including: requiring paper ballot copies for every vote cast on a voting machine, securing those machines and hard drives outside of voting hours, sending ballots with mismatched signatures to the Attorney General for potential investigation, requiring ballot observers to be able to see the voting machines, increasing chain of custody requirements, and forcing anyone registering in Arizona who moved from another state to deregister from their previous state.
However, Republican Senator Michelle Ugenti-Rita, announced that she would join the Democrats in voting against the election integrity bill, which Townsend implied was revenge for her own vote against Ugenti-Rita’s SB1485. Although SB1485 included some election integrity measures, it would not have applied key revisions in time for the 2022 primaries, leaving them open to the same potential attacks that may have occurred in the 2020 election.
Much of the provisions included in the final version of SB1241 were tacked onto the bill when it went through the House, after Ugenti-Rita refused to allow Townsend to hear the issues in the Government Committee that she chaired. When it came to voting, Ugenti-Rita objected exactly because of the methodology Townsend used to get the issues into the bills, despite the fact it was her own tactics had seemingly forced her to do.
Speaking on the Arizona Senate floor, Townsend argued that the uncommon method of producing the final bill was “no reason to vote no on good election integrity language that is needed this year in order to be in effect in time for the primary election next year,” adding that she found it “reprehensible that pride, lack of reading the bills in the beginning, or any other reason, is actually going to kill good legislation that would restore confidence for every single person in this state in their election process so that they can cast a ballot in next year’s primary knowing that chain of custody is secure.”
“If this bill goes down, the 2022 primary election will have the same rules when it comes to chain of custody as it had in the 2020 election because of pride, because of nonfeasance, because the chairwoman didn’t like that I went around her, and because there are many provisions in one bill called an omnibus,” Townsend continued. “For those reasons, this chairwoman is denying the people of Arizona confidence and election security. That is unacceptable.” She confirmed that she would have to vote no on the bill herself, allowing her to reconsider it and reintroduce it in future.
Wendy Rogers, one of the most pro-America First State Senators in Arizona, pledged her support to SB1241 after its initial defeat, saying that she is “appalled that [they] do not have the votes to pass this bill,” adding that they needed to pass SB1241 “to protect election integrity in Arizona.”
I support the SB1241 election integrity bill and am appalled that we do not have the votes to pass this bill. Please call your senators and make sure they are on board! We must pass SB1241 to protect election integrity in Arizona!
— Wendy Rogers (@WendyRogersAZ) June 29, 2021
Ugenti-Rita is currently running against State Representative Mark Finchem to replace Katie Hobbs as Arizona Secretary of State. Finchem, as opposed to his Republican opponent, is not only known for being a strong voice for election integrity, but also stood firmly with President Trump following the 2020 presidential election.