Arizona Attorney General Urges Sinema, Kelly to Reject H.R. 1

Arizona Attorney General Urges Sinema, Kelly to Reject H.R. 1
Sens. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) are seen in Washington in file photographs. (Getty Images)
Zachary Stieber

Arizona’s attorney general this week implored the state’s two U.S. senators to vote no on H.R. 1, a massive election reform bill that the House of Representatives recently approved.

“Public servants have no duty more sacred than protecting the peoples’ right to vote while maintaining the integrity of elections. As the chief legal officer for Arizona, I respectfully urge you to vote ‘No’ on the companion Senate bill to H.R. 1,” Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, a Republican, wrote in a March 15 letter to Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.).

The bill, he added, “would not expand Arizonans’ right to vote, but only eviscerate the integrity of Arizona elections and undermine voter confidence.”

Federal officials would be permitted to subvert Arizona’s ability to keep running elections in the state “and impede traditional notions of federalism by eradicating virtually all state control of the time, place, and manner of federal elections,” he wrote.

Most of the provisions outlined in the act that would expand voting opportunities are already in place in Arizona, including no-excuse mail-in voting and in-person early voting, Brnovich noted. At the same time, the legislation would invalidate several Arizona election laws such as restrictions on ballot harvesting or the collection of mail-in ballots.

“As public officials, there is no higher priority than maintaining the integrity of our elections. The very foundation of our nation and our state rests on the notion that our government is derived from the consent of the governed. Distrust in the elective franchise shakes the core of that foundation and delegitimizes those in power. In Arizona, we have laws that allow every voter ample opportunity to vote, free from intimidation, and that prevent disenfranchisement and fraud. Our systems maintain the public’s trust and provide for secure elections. Let’s keep it that way,” he concluded.

Spokespersons for Sinema and Kelly didn’t respond to requests for comment.

The House of Representatives on March 3 passed H.R. 1, also known as the For the People Act. Every Republican voted against the bill, as did Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.).

The bill spans 800 pages and would impose a number of voting and election changes, such as requiring disclosure of donors to religious and nonprofit advocacy groups and enabling incumbent congressmen and their challengers to receive a salary from campaign funds.

It would also force states to implement a minimum of 15 days of early voting, offer mail-in ballots, facilitate online voter registration, and allow no-excuse absentee balloting.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the legislation would “protect the right to vote” and “remove obstacles of participation.”

“What’s exciting about it is that it restores confidence that people have that their vote and their voice is as important as anyone’s,” she told reporters in Washington on March 5.

The Senate’s version faces uncertain prospects in the upper chamber, which has 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans. The bill would need 60 votes to pass.

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), a member of the GOP’s upper chamber leadership team, told reporters on Tuesday that the Senate bill is “a partisan effort, frankly, to take over the elections in a way that sort of drives off a partisan clip.”

“It is everything Democrats have tried to do for 20 years. And in some ways, things that Democrats never even thought about mentioning before, like a partisan Federal Election Commission,” he added.

Mimi Nguyen Ly contributed to this report.