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Arizona lawmaker tries to ban voting machines via strongly worded letter

Arizona’s Democratic governor vetoed an effort by Republicans to ban voting machines. The state Senate’s majority leader wants to enforce the ban anyway.


Arizona Republicans continue to be among the most extreme conservatives in the nation.

The latest evidence of that comes in a letter written by Sonny Borrelli, the majority leader of the Arizona Senate. The Republican told all Arizona counties that they must follow a nonbinding resolution passed by the state’s GOP-controlled Legislature that bans the use of electronic voting machines in upcoming elections. 

The letter, which has been denounced even by Republican officials in Arizona, shows that former President Donald Trump and his illiberal minions who tried to overturn the 2020 presidential election still wield power heading into 2024. 

Here’s how it all played out. 

Last week, Arizona’s Democratic governor, Katie Hobbs, vetoed a Republican-backed bill that would have prohibited the use of electronic voting machines unless they met a host of right-wing requirements, including a mandate that all of the machine’s parts be American-made. Arizona Republicans have been the most obnoxious group in the nation to lob baseless allegations about voting machines ever since Trump lost in 2020. 

But in his letter to county officials, Borrelli claims that despite the requirements not being signed into law, the counties must still comply with Republicans’ demands because of the nonbinding resolution. The resolution cited machines provided by Dominion Voting Systems, a company that has been at the center of many of conservatives’ election conspiracy theories.

And Borrelli leaned into arguments made by people intimately involved in Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election. 

As the Arizona Mirror reported

In his letter sent to Arizona’s 15 counties, Borrelli states that Article 1, Section 4, Clause 1 of the U.S. Constitution gives state legislators the authority to make these sorts of changes to elections. This legal theory of state legislatures and “plenary power” has become a focus of some on the right, and has been pushed for by attorneys like John Eastman.

Eastman was one of former President Donald Trump’s lawyers who, in the days leading up to the Jan. 6 riot, lobbied the legal counsel for former Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the results of the election using “plenary authorities.”

The “plenary authority” claimed by Borrelli is a tenet of the “independent state legislature” theory, the dubious legal argument that conservatives have pushed that claims legislatures can unilaterally impose draconian and discriminatory election laws without being overruled by state courts.

Arizona officials are tearing Borelli’s letter to shreds — Republicans included.

On Twitter, Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes wrote that Borrelli’s letter carries no legal authority. 

“If those requirements or certification process were to be changed, it would require a regular bill to be passed by the legislature and signed by the governor — which is not the case for this nonbinding resolution,” the Democrat wrote. “We defer to the AG’s office on all other legal questions.”

A spokesperson for Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes told the Arizona Mirror that the attorney general, a Democrat, agrees with Fontes’ interpretation. 

Meanwhile, Borrelli’s toothless letter is exposing rifts among Arizona Republicans. 

He’s being celebrated by Trump-loving Republicans — such as bigoted state Sen. Wendy Rodgers and a bunch of the grifters at Arizona-based advocacy group Turning Point USA — but the Arizona Mirror noted the lack of universal Republican support. 

A GOP county supervisor from Borrelli’s home county said the letter “is just a resolution which carries no weight in law,” and a spokesperson for Senate Republicans reportedly said the Senate majority leader’s letter had been sent “independent” of the Senate president and others in the GOP caucus.

The MAGA movement is still alive in Arizona politics. As for the GOP’s electoral success in the state? That seems to be a different story.