By: Jordan Ulloa
Since 2020, Arizona has been plagued by election conspiracy theories. Adherence to election denialism intensified in the lead up to the 2022 election, and has subsequently gotten worse since Democrats won the offices of Governor, Secretary of State, and Attorney General for the first time since 1974, or 49 years. Even though the strategy seems to be a losing one, the Republicans, advancing election conspiracy theories since 2020, narrowly held onto both the Senate and House of Representatives with a one and two seat majority, respectively. Since beginning to push election conspiracies and denialism the Republicans have lost more and more power statewide in three consecutive elections. By this logic it would seem election denialism and conspiracy theories are losing campaign strategies, unless you’re the Arizona GOP.
While most of the electorate is sick of hearing about why a certain candidate had their election stolen, republicans continue to double down with an agenda that aims to disenfranchise voters across the board. Want to vote by mail? Representative Liz Harris (R-Chandler), who often cites the debunked film “2000 Mules” (about nonexistent voter fraud and produced by convicted felon Dinesh D’Souza) as documentary evidence in committee hearings, has introduced several bills that would eliminate vote-by-mail. Notably, vote by mail has shown no partisan effect and only works to modestly increase turnout in the overall electorate, and is just one of many policies that help to expand voting rights to marginalized populations. To place the proverbial cherry on top of the voter suppression sundae, Arizona republicans have advanced bills that would force a full state hand count on election day and would eliminate county wide early voting centers, limiting access to the ballot and increasing precinct wait times while opening up tabulation to human error.
The alarmist rhetoric aside, if it weren’t for the great people of this state soundly rejecting this agenda, these election reforms could very well become law. Since Arizonans elected Governor Katie Hobbs, instead of the ever-campaigning Kari Lake, every last one of these bills is expected to be dead on arrival to her desk where a veto stamp stocked with red ink awaits them.
But that does not mean that the threat to Arizonans voting rights is not real. In fact, this state has a long, sad, and aggressive history as it pertains to stripping citizens of their right to vote, specifically, Black, Latino and Native American voters. Many of the tactics the state employed in the past were motivated by racial animus and resembled some of the most egregious voter suppression laws in the Jim Crow South. Just this last year, the Tohono O’odham Nation and the Gila River Indian Community filed a lawsuit challenging proof of address requirements included in Arizona H.B. 2492, which was signed into law by Governor Ducey in 2022. The tribes allege the law will disenfranchise thousands of those living on the reservation. The case was consolidated with several other suits alleging similar injuries stemming from the passage of H.B. 2492.
Similarly, voter ID laws have been a point of contention within Arizona. Another law promulgated by legislative republicans in 2022 and signed into law by Governor Ducey is H.B. 2243. The law requires county recorders to cancel a voter’s registration if they receive information that a voter is not qualified to vote or if the county officials have a “reason to believe” that a voter is not a U.S. citizen. While a court granted a temporary injunction on the enforcement of H.B. 2243 for the 2022 elections, the future of the law is uncertain. Litigation to enjoin enforcement of H.B. 2243 was recently allowed to move forward, with the court ruling that a reasonable fact finder should be allowed to determine whether the law would lead to “naturalized citizens, a disproportionate number of whom are members of protected racial classes, will be subject to unwarranted disenfranchisement and criminal prosecution. . .” due to the requirements of H.B. 2243.
Having ran the state with almost unchallenged hegemony since 1991, ceding only a brief bipartisan period stewarded by Governor Janet Napolitano from 2003-2008, the Arizona Republicans have been given a great opportunity to show the state and electorate that they are ready and willing to put the needs of all Arizonans ahead of their own political ambitions. Whether they will rise to the occasion and return to a milder, more palatable version of republicanism remains to be seen. Arizonans hope, and even desire, for a step back into reality while speaking truth to their constituency. But given all the recent ramblings over at the legislature, there seems to be little hope that compromise or honesty are on the agenda. It certainly doesn’t help when the state party’s biggest fundraiser has embraced white nationalism and coddled a known white supremacist. But to those conservatives and partisans that are fed up with the lunacy. . . keep your head up, stay vigilant, and join us in fighting to save our democracy.
Jordan graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a B.A. in Psychology, and obtained his M.A. in Politics from Claremont Graduate University. Jordan is a 2L with an interest in voting rights, election law, and civil rights. He is interested in the intersection of politics, the law, and how those two institutions affect issues pertaining to social justice in a myriad of ways. After graduating and passing the bar exam, Jordan is interested in working to advance access to the ballot box in marginalized communities as well as increasing awareness of individuals rights when it comes to voting. In his free time, Jordan likes to go to football, baseball and basketball games… go Lakers.