HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Republican lawmakers who have spread election conspiracy theories and falsely claimed that the 2020 presidential outcome was rigged are overseeing legislative committees charged with setting election policy in two major political battleground states.
Any voting restrictions that GOP lawmakers propose will likely fail because of the split government between Arizona and Pennsylvania. However, these high-profile appointments provide lawmakers with an opportunity to raise doubts about the integrity of elections that are crucial in selecting the next president for 2024.
This is a slap on the face for lawmakers who are guilty of conspiracies or spread misinformation, despite more than 2 years worth of evidence proving otherwise no widespread problems or fraud In the presidential election of last year. This would also appear to be contrary to the message that voters received in November’s midterm elections. rejected election-denying candidates Candidates for high office in the presidential election battleground states
Many mainstream Republicans, however, are also trying to transcend. the lies told by former President Donald Trump His allies and about his loss to President Joe Biden.
“It is an issue that many Americans and many Pennsylvanians are tired of seeing litigated and re-litigated over and over,” Amanda Cappalletti (Pennsylvania state senator), is the top Democrat on Senate’s committee dealing with election legislation. “I think we’re all ready to move on, and we see from audit after audit that our elections are secure, they are fair and that people’s votes are being counted.”
Democratic governors will be able to blunt the impact of Republicans, who have taken steps or used rhetorical tactics to defeat the 2020 election.
But in Arizona and Pennsylvania, two lawmakers who dismiss the validity of that election — not to mention other elections since then — will have key positions of influence as the majority chairs of legislative committees that oversee election legislation.
Arizona Republican Sen. Wendy Rogers He takes the Senate Elections Committee over after being appointed by Senate President Warren Petersen. He was one of two lawmakers who signed subpoenas that led to Senate Republicans’ widely derided audit There will be no election in 2020.
Numerous reviews audits In the six battleground states Trump has disputed the outcome of his election loss. court rejections repeated admonishments Starting at officials in his own administration, We have highlighted that the 2020 Presidential Results were accurate. It was no widespread fraud Or manipulation voting machines That would have affected the outcome.
Arizona and Pennsylvania are two examples of the division between major parties regarding election law. Already this year, Democratic-controlled legislatures are moving to expand access to voting and heighten penalties for intimidating voters and election workers, while many Republican-led states are aiming to pass further restrictions, a trend that accelerated after Trump’s false claims about the 2020 election.
Rogers is a well-known national figure for spreading conspiracy theories, questioning elections and has repeatedly been accused of ethics for inciting rhetoric and supporting white supremacists.
Now, she will act as the main gatekeeper to election and voting legislation in Arizona. Arizona is a key priority for many Republican legislators. Some want to eliminate voting by mail and early voting options that are used by more than 80% of the state’s voters.
On Monday, she has set up a meeting of the committee to discuss bills which would prohibit unmonitored drop boxes and ban drive-through or ballot pick-up. She also plans on examining other legislation that could ban early voting (or impose additional costs for it)
In Pennsylvania, Republican Sen. Cris Dush takes over as chair of the Senate State Government Committee after pushing to block the state’s electoral votes from going to Biden in 2020. Dush was also a mount an election investigation He said that he wanted to model the Arizona-style audit.
He was appointed by the Senate’s ranking Republican, President Pro Tem Kim Ward, whose office explained Dush’s appointment only by saying that seniority plays a role and that members have priority requests.
In the first weeks of this year’s session, Dush has moved along measures to expand voter identification requirements and add a layer of post-election audits. Both are proposed constitutional amendments designed to bypass a governor’s veto by going to voters for approval.
Dush stated that he plans to create legislation to increase security for ballots and drop boxes.
“I’m going to make a promise to the people of Pennsylvania: The things that I’m doing here as chair of State Government, it’s going to be things that will be conducted in a fair, impartial manner,” Dush spoke in an interview. “You know, we’ve just got to make sure that we can ensure the integrity of the vote and people aren’t disenfranchised.”
Arizona and Pennsylvania both have new Democratic governors, who are likely to veto any GOP legislation that is not in the best interest of Democrats.
However, Democrats in both the states, as well as county election officials, and advocates for voting rights in both States, want to see changes to electoral laws.
Alex Gulotta is the Arizona director of the voting rights organization All Voting is Local. He said that he expects the Legislature to pass many things. “bad elections bills.” Moderate Republican lawmakers might not have approved of problematic measures under Republican governors, but they might allow them to be passed now that they’re familiar with the Democratic Gov. They will be vetoed by Katie Hobbs.
“This is performative,” Gulotta said. “This isn’t substantive.”
He said that the question is how Rogers can work with other Arizona legislators. “small fixes” Where there’s consensus. This, he stated, is what will take. “real statesmanship.”
Liz Avore, a senior adviser to the nonpartisan Voting Rights Lab, said the organization expects another busy period of lawmaking related to voting and elections ahead of the 2024 presidential vote, even as candidates who repeated Trump’s lies about a stolen 2020 election lost bids for governor, secretary of state and attorney general in key battleground states.
Both Democratic-led and Republican-led States are frequently moving in opposite directionsAvore stated that there is some bipartisan agreement around aspects of election law such as the restoration of voting rights for felons or expanding early in-person voter.
Republican proposals such as increasing voter identification are very popular. Some Democratic plans to expand access also have major support. Christopher Borick is a professor of political science and pollster at Muhlenberg College.
Republicans should learn the lessons of 2022 in order to reach voters. He denied the results of free elections. “is a loser for the Republican Party. Straight up.”
Cooper was based in Phoenix.