PHOENIX — An abrupt about-face in the State Senate Thursday. An election integrity bill many thought would pass was defeated when Republican State Senator Kelly Townsend announced she will not vote for any election integrity bills until after the completion of an audit of the Maricopa County 2020 Presidential results.
“It is incumbent on us to be patient, to wait, and to look at what this audit produces. Otherwise, we are doing it for no reason. It’s for show,” Senator Townsend (R) Mesa District 16 said.
SB 1485 sponsor Senator Michelle Ugenti-Rita (R) Scottsdale District 23, wasn’t buying Townsend’s explanation.
Townsend is the author of approximately 10 election-related bills this session. Most of them never made it out of committee. Ugenti-Rita believes that’s why Townsend voted no.
“Obviously this bill isn’t going to pass because the member from District 16 in a show of spite and rage has decided to vote against it,” Ugenti-Rita said. In a procedural move, Senator Ugenti-Rita voted against her own bill so she can bring it back to the floor if she gets an opportunity to do it.
Ugenti-Rita’s bill changes the permanent voting list to the early voting list. It requires voters to vote at least once in two consecutive election cycles. That includes city and county races.
Opponents of the bill, including Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, said the legislation is not necessary because county recorders already have the means to remove voters who do not participate. Opponents say SB 1485 will remove an estimated 150,000 voters from the permanent voting list.
Hobbs wrote a letter to Governor Doug Ducey asking him to veto it if makes it to his desk.
The actual review of the ballots and voting machines in Maricopa County begins Friday. The auditing team has 30 days to complete and then write a report. The end of May is usually when the legislative session ends, once the budget is voted on. But the budget, like the election integrity bills, may have to wait until Senator Townsend is convinced lawmakers will act on any recommendations the audit makes.