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GOP state proposal would allow lawmakers to reject election results

There are at least some Republican policymakers who apparently believe that politicians should have veto power over voters.

As a rule, it's best not to get too excited about random proposals floated in state legislatures. Every year, individual state lawmakers introduce all kinds of strange ideas, the vast majority of which stand no chance of becoming law. It's best to focus attention on policies that will actually affect people, not outlandish longshots.

But every once in a while, there are exceptions to the rule. The Hill reported yesterday:

An arch conservative member of Arizona's state House of Representatives has proposed a mammoth overhaul of the state's voting procedures that would allow legislators to overturn the results of a primary or general election after months of unfounded allegations and partisan audits.

Republican state Rep. John Fillmore's proposal is awful in traditional ways, pushing to scrap most early and absentee voting, for example. But what makes this bill even more extraordinary is the system it would create after balloting has taken place.

Under Fillmore's model, Arizona's legislature would be required to hold a special session after the state's votes have been tallied. At that point, lawmakers would review the results, examine election processes, and make a decision about whether to "accept or reject the election results."

Or put another way, under this proposal, if the Republican-led legislature decided it disapproved of election results, lawmakers in this system would have the power to overturn those results.

By way of a defense, Fillmore reportedly said at a committee hearing this week, "We should have voting in my opinion in person, one day, on paper, with no electronic means and hand counting that day. We need to get back to 1958-style voting."

In case this isn't obvious, voting in 1958 predates both the Voting Rights Act and the 24th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits poll taxes.

It's important to emphasize that Fillmore's bill stands no realistic chance of success. It has not received support from GOP leaders in the legislature, and it almost certainly won't be endorsed by Arizona's Republican governor, Doug Ducey.

So why take note of a proposal that won't pass? Because of the larger context.

After Democrats fared well in the Grand Canyon State in the 2020 election cycle, including President Joe Biden's success in Arizona, Republicans got to work in 2021 creating new voting restrictions in the state. For some in the GOP, it's clear that those measures didn't go far enough, and they're eager to make voting even more difficult.

What's more, as The Hill's report added, "Fillmore's legislation ... is a sign that some Republicans have embraced the idea that legislators should have veto power over the will of the voters if they do not like the results."

Exactly. I don't see Fillmore's bill as a threat; I see Fillmore's bill as evidence that there are at least some Republican policymakers who apparently believe that politicians should have veto power over voters.