Secretary of State Adrian Fontes: Call Election Deniers By Their Name – ‘MAGA Fascists’

Arizona’s Secretary of State Adrian Fontes joined MSNBC’s Ali Velshi to discuss the growing number of election workers quitting amid threats of violence and how to fight back against election denialism among the “MAGA fascists” in Arizona pushing these lies with “vigor and strength,” he says. “We have to attack this terrorism directly because it is an attack on our democracy.”

Sarah Burris reports, Kari Lake criminal referral sent to Arizona AG from secretary of state:

Former [MAGA/Qanon] Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake was referred to the Arizona attorney general for investigation on Monday afternoon. According to the referral, which came from Secretary of State Adrian Fontes, Lake violated state law by tweeting out copies of voter signatures in her tweets.

For the past several months, Lake has claimed that there was a conspiracy afoot and that she won the 2022 election, just as Donald Trump won the 2020 election.

Lake’s tweet that is being targeted by the secretary claims that the GOP-led Senate confirmed that 40,000 ballots were illegal, showing examples of voters’ signatures, which is against the law.

“Nothing in this section shall preclude public inspection of voter registration records at the office of the county recorder for the purpose prescribed by this section, except that … the records containing a voter’s signature … shall not be accessible or reproduced by any person other than the voter…” the office cited in the referral.

Vote Beat reported, As state legislatures convene, election laws are up for another round of changes:

Arizona lawmakers kicked off their discussions about elections this week by spending hours listening to a group that has been claiming widespread voter fraud without evidence since 2020.

Giving the group, We the People, a platform at the start of the session may be symbolic for what’s to come this session. Republican state Sen. Wendy Rogers, who supports the most extreme proposals to limit voting access, controls the Senate elections committee that hosted the presentation Jan. 23, which Alex Gulotta of voting rights group All Voting is Local called a “conspiracy theory dog-and-pony show.”

Rogers will set the agenda for what changes to elections the committee will debate. That may mean a lot of time talking about extreme proposals that have no chance of becoming law under Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs, and less time for discussion about moderate bills that actually stand a chance.

Dozens of election bills have already been filed, including everything from Republican proposals to eliminate early voting, vote centers, and drop boxes to Democratic proposals to bring back the permanent early voting list and allow independent voting in primaries.

While last year the bills that would have changed voting most drastically were blocked by moderate Republican lawmakers, this year, with Hobbs as a backstop, Gulotta said he isn’t sure moderates will see the need to push back on their own caucus as much. He expects those bills will make it all the way to a final reading and full discussion even more than last year.

“The question is how much of our time or resources will be spent entertaining radical ideas, even though they aren’t going to pass,” Gulotta said. “My thought is, probably a lot of time. We empowered radical people.” —Jen Fifield

The video of this “dog and pony show” does not appear to be posted yet on the legislature’s committee videos. I do not find much in the way of reporting on this yet, reporters are probably still writing their pieces.

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  1. UPDATE: The Arizona Mirror reports, “Critics: Republican election proposals confusing, contradictory, unnecessary”,

    A group of election reform bills that Republicans say would make elections more secure and speed up results would actually make voting more difficult and time consuming, and are solutions to nonexistent problems, critics said Monday.

    One of the bills would be impossible to implement in some Arizona counties, while others seem fated for a veto if they ever reach Gov. Katie Hobbs.

    Out of the seven bills that the Senate Elections Committee approved on Monday, six passed 5-3 along party lines, and just one passed with unanimous support.

    One of the bills that garnered criticism from both sides of the aisle, Senate Bill 1105, introduced by Sen. Frank Carroll, R-Sun City West, would require early ballots returned to a polling place on Election Day be tabulated on-site at the polling location.

    “If you go to the polls on Election Day, then why use an early ballot?” Kavanagh asked. “Do it like everyone else.”

    Kavanagh added that he would only continue to support the bill if counties were also provided more funding to open additional polling places to deal with the increased number of voters who would have to stand in line to have their ballots tabulated on Election Day.

    Currently, voters who drop off early ballots on Election Day simply put them in a secure box to be tabulated later at the county’s central ballot processing facility.

    Jen Marson, a lobbyist for the Arizona Association of Counties, told the committee the bill was “unimplementable” because only about half of the state’s counties even have the capability of tabulating any ballots on-site at polling places on Election Day.

    It would also create a need for two separate voting operations — one for early ballot tabulation and one for regular in-person voting — to take place at each polling location. That would necessitate more space and more poll workers, Marson said, both of which can be difficult to come by.

    Kavanagh responded that, when he was young, polling places were typically in churches and schools.

    “I have no idea why we don’t use more government buildings for voting,” Kavanagh said.

    Marson answered that schools often refuse to operate as polling places and added that each location also needs to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

    Sen. Sonny Borrelli, R-Lake Havasu City, told Marson that “all I hear is opposition from your organization” and said that “if we got rid of all these daggum electronic machines” then there would be more money to pay poll workers.

    Prescott Republican Sen. Ken Bennett, a former Arizona secretary of state, said he agreed with what he believed was the sponsor’s intent, to speed up the tabulation process for so-called “late early” ballots, but added that, without changes the proposed law would be “unworkable for counties.”

    Sen. Juan Mendez, D-Tempe called the bill a “logistical mess” and Sen. Anna Hernandez, D-Glendale said it was “hugely problematic.”

    One measure aims to eliminate Election Day early ballot drop-offs altogether. Kavanagh’s Senate Bill 1135 would require those who received an early voting ballot in the mail but who wanted to turn it in on Election Day to spoil that ballot — the technical term for canceling it — and turn it in at their polling place, at which point they’d be required to show identification and then vote a regular in-person ballot instead.

    In many counties, that ballot would then be tabulated immediately by the on-site tabulators already in use.

    Mendez argued that this would disenfranchise voters who simply wanted to drop off their early ballot and didn’t know that they needed to bring identification to the polling place.

    Kavanagh answered that the bill was aimed to stop voter fraud, something that, despite copious conspiracy theories saying otherwise, experts say is rare.

    “How do I know you didn’t find that (early) ballot on the street or stole it from a friend’s house?” Kavanagh asked.

    Each envelope for every mail-in ballot sent to an Arizonan on the early voting list includes a barcode that is unique to that voter and ballot. This ensures that no voter is allowed to both mail in a ballot and also vote in person. Voters can also opt to track their ballot, and can find out through their county website or the Secretary of State site, when it’s been received and counted.

    Kavanagh later said the bill was meant to speed up the “log jam” that tabulation of early ballots dropped off on Election Day causes in slowing the release of election results, something that caused outrage after the Arizona general election in November, even though the state has always been slow to release results. Maricopa County received a larger-than-expected number of early ballots dropped off on Election Day this year, which officials said did slow tabulation.

    Sen. Priya Sundareshan, D-Tucson, said the bill addresses a problem that she doesn’t believe exists: The need to know election results more quickly. She added that, while some of the others on the committee reminisced about the “good old days” when most people voted in person before mail-in voting became widespread in Arizona in 1991, laws were changed to allow more ways to vote to increase participation — in part because people were being disenfranchised.

    Hernandez agreed.

    “I can’t support something like this, when we should be looking at ways to make voting easier,” she said.

    Although Bennett voted in favor of the bill, he said that Republicans needed to work on a coordinated effort for their election bills so that they don’t conflict and could be realistically implemented by the counties.

    Another bill the Senate panel approved, Senate Bill 1095, would require early ballot envelopes to include a written warning that ballots dropped in a ballot drop box or mailed after the Friday before the election could cause delayed election results.

    Marson also spoke in opposition to this bill, saying that it would cause confusion since county recorders have for years advised voters to mail back their ballots by the Wednesday before the election. She added that, for voters living in rural areas, a ballot mailed on Friday might not make it to their county recorder’s office by the deadline of 7 p.m. on Election Day.

    Bennett opined that the bill likely wouldn’t pass unless the advised mailing time was amended to Wednesday instead of Friday, but he nonetheless voted in its favor.

    “I think we need to be very careful how we dictate to counties how to communicate with voters,” Bennett said.

    The only bill that passed the committee unanimously on Monday was Senate Bill 1178, which allows counties to skip signature verification on ballot envelopes for voters who vote early in-person and who have to show their IDs to obtain a ballot. Marson spoke in favor of the bill, saying it eliminated the redundancy of verifying a voter’s identity twice: Through an ID check and signature verification.

    Other bills that passed the committee on Tuesday included:

    • Senate Bill 1180, which would prohibit organizations that work to register voters from paying workers per registration form. Bennett said the bill was requested by county officials, and that they hoped it would prevent those organizations from turning in junk forms that county workers must sift through.
    • Senate Bill 1068, which would require that each voting location include one worker from each of the two major political parties. This is a change from the current law that if the workers are members of a political party, they must be equally divided between the two parties.
    • Senate Bill 1066, which would require nongovernmental organizations to include the words “not from a government entity” on election-related mail that resembles official election correspondence.

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