HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Republican lawmakers who spread election conspiracy theories and falsely claimed the 2020 presidential election results were rigged are overseeing the legislative committee tasked with setting election policy in two key political battleground states.
Divided governments in Pennsylvania and Arizona mean any voting restrictions proposed by those Republican lawmakers are likely to fail. Even so, the high-profile appointments provide a platform for lawmakers to further question the integrity of state elections, which will be key to picking the next president in 2024.
Giving such a good job to legislators who have repeatedly conspired and spread misinformation based on more than two years of evidence that there is no widespread problem or fraud in the last presidential election.It also seems to run counter to the message of the November midterm elections, when voters rejected candidates who rejected the election Run for senior office in presidential battleground states.
Meanwhile, many mainstream Republicans are trying to shake off the lies told by former President Donald Trump and his allies about his loss to President Joe Biden.
“This is an issue that many Americans and many Pennsylvanians are tired of filing and re-litigating over and over again,” said Sen. Amanda Capaletti of Pennsylvania, the top Democrat on the Senate committee that oversees election legislation. people. “I think we’re all ready to move on, and we’ve seen from audit after audit that our elections are safe, fair, and people’s votes are being counted.”
multiple comments and audit in six battleground states Trump disputes his defeat and dozens of court rejections and repeatedly exhorted officials from his own government, Stress that 2020 presidential election results are accurate. No widespread fraud or rig a voting machine That would change the outcome.
The legislative appointments in Pennsylvania and Arizona underscore differences between the two major parties over election laws. This year, Democrat-controlled legislatures are already moving to expand voting access and toughen penalties for intimidation of voters and election workers, while many Republican-led states are looking to pass further restrictions, a trend in Washington. Trump’s False Claims About 2020 Election Accelerates Afterwards.
Democratic governors and legislative victories last fall will undercut Republicans who have taken steps or made statements seeking to overturn the 2020 election.
But in Arizona and Pennsylvania, two lawmakers who denied the validity of that election — let alone others since — will wield critical leverage as majority chairmen of legislative committees overseeing election legislation.
In Arizona, Republican Senator Wendy Rogers After being appointed by ally Senate President Warren Peterson to take over the Senate Select Committee.He was one of two lawmakers to sign the subpoena that led to widespread derision by Senate Republicans over the audit 2020 general election.
Rogers, who has won a following nationwide for spreading conspiracy theories and questioning the election, has faced ethics charges multiple times for inflammatory remarks, support for white supremacists and social media posts rife with conspiracy.
She will now be the main gatekeeper for Arizona’s election and voting bill, where electoral reform is a top priority for some Republican lawmakers. Some want to eliminate mail-in voting and early voting options used by more than 80% of voters in the state.
She has scheduled a committee meeting for Monday to consider bills to ban unsupervised drop boxes, ban drive-thru voting or ballot pickup and what voting rights advocates say would impose an additional burden on early voting.
In Pennsylvania, Republican Senator Chris Dush took over as chairman of the Senate State Government Committee after pushing to prevent the state from voting for Biden in 2020.Dush also launched an election inquiry He wants to use the Arizona-style audit as a model.
He was appointed by President Kim Ward, a top-ranking Republican in the Senate, whose office has explained Dush’s appointment only that seniority plays a role and that lawmakers have priorities.
In the weeks leading up to this year’s session, Dush took steps to expand voter identification requirements and add a layer of post-election auditing. Both are proposed constitutional amendments designed to bypass the governor’s veto through voter approval.
Dush said he also plans to introduce legislation requiring more security measures for drop boxes and ballots.
“I will make a promise to the people of Pennsylvania that what I do here as chairman of the state will be done in a fair and just manner,” Dush said in a statement. interview. “You know, we have to make sure that we can ensure the integrity of the vote and that people are not disenfranchised.”
Newly elected Democratic governors in Arizona and Pennsylvania are likely to veto hardline Republican bills opposed by Democrats.
Still, Democrats, county election officials and voting rights advocates in both states want changes to election laws that may never see the light of day.
Alex Gulotta, the Arizona director of the voting rights group All Voting is Local, said he expected the legislature there to pass a lot of “bad election bills.” Moderate Republican lawmakers who would have voted down the problematic measures under Republican governors may now let them pass, knowing that Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs is likely to veto them, he said.
“It’s performative,” Gulotta said. “It’s not substantive.”
The question, he said, is whether Rogers and other Arizona lawmakers can work together on “small fixes” by consensus. It will take “real statesmanship,” he said.
Liz Avore, a senior adviser to the nonpartisan Voting Rights Lab, said the group expects another busy period of voting and election-related legislation ahead of the 2024 presidential election, even with candidates who repeat Trump’s lies about the 2020 election being stolen. People lost bids for governor, secretary of state and attorney general in key battleground states.
Democratic and Republican-led states often move in opposite directionsbut Avore said there has been some bipartisan consensus around some aspects of election law, such as restoring voting rights to felons and expanding early in-person voting.
Christopher Borrick, a political science professor and pollster at Muilenburg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania, said Republican proposals, such as expanding voter identification requirements, were popular and had majority support, while some Democrats’ efforts to expand access The same goes for proposals.
But to succeed with voters, Republicans need to keep the lessons of 2022 in mind. Denying the outcome of a fair election, he said, “is a loser for the GOP. Straight up.”
Cooper reported from Phoenix.
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