Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs last week urged the US Senate to pass the sweeping voting-rights legislation known at the For the People Act, arguing that “democracy is under siege” in her home state.
In an opinion piece for The Washington Post, Hobbs deemed GOP efforts to undermine the confidence in the 2020 election as part of a strategy to “steal” the 2024 presidential election.
“Republicans aren’t just protesting the results of our most recent presidential election … they are laying the groundwork to steal the next one,” she wrote. “They are sowing doubt about our electoral process to justify a crackdown on voting rights: The 2020 election was insecure, they say, and so our next election must be airtight.”
Republicans in the state are currently carrying out a partisan audit of the results in Maricopa County, which for years has been one of the fastest-growing counties in the US.
When President Joe Biden defeated former President Donald Trump in the Arizona presidential race last year, he also carried Maricopa by a 50% to 48% margin, which was critical in overcoming the vote margins in some of the more Republican-leaning jurisdictions in the state.
Hobbs, a Democrat, announced her campaign for governor earlier this month and has repeatedly criticized the audit process and questioned the competency of the legislators who continue to challenge the election results.
She contends that most Arizonans view the audit as “a farce.”
“They saw the 2020 election with their own eyes, and they don’t want their ballots scrutinized by a shadowy, partisan company,” she said.
Although Arizona has started to resemble more of a purple state in recent years, Republicans still have a grip on the state legislature, where they have pushed a raft of restrictive voting laws.
The “For the People Act,” also known as H.R.1 or S.1., would end partisan gerrymandering, expand early and absentee voting, and establish national standards for voter registration, among other measures.
In her opinion piece, Hobbs detailed how Arizona Republicans this year modified the Permanent Early Voter List, where mail-in ballots were sent to the homes of voters who signed up for the list, a popular option.
“Some 75 percent of eligible voters relied on the list to receive their mail-in ballots in 2020, and nearly 80 percent decided to vote by mail,” she said.
Last month, GOP Gov. Doug Ducey signed legislation that takes people off the list if they choose not to vote by mail in two election cycles. The new rule would apply even for voters who seek to vote through different methods.
Hobbs warned of additional restrictive measures that could come to Arizona.
“Republicans will not stop there,” she said. “Several other bills, each designed to further restrict access to voting, are under consideration in the Arizona legislature.”
In calling for passage of the For the People Act, Hobbs cited its “many long overdue, common-sense ideas that would expand voting rights such as automatic national voter registration.”
She mentioned Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who is opposed to S.1. in its current form but last week laid out a compromise bill, along with her home state Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat who supports voting rights legislation but rejects nixing the filibuster to pass it.
“Sinema and I serve the same state,” Hobbs said. “We both know that if we do nothing now, Arizonans’ access to the ballot will be stripped away by Republican legislators.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York has scheduled a Tuesday vote that would start debate on the bill, despite the likelihood of a GOP-led filibuster.
The voting-rights bill would have to clear the 60-vote threshold to withstand a legislative filibuster and proceed to a vote where it could pass with a simple majority.
“Voter-suppression efforts in Arizona are part of a nationwide dismantling of voting rights — the most sustained and egregious assault on US democracy since the Jim Crow era,” she said.
She concluded the piece with a final plea to Congress, writing “we are running out of time.”