Hobbs Vetoes Fontes Supported Bipartisan Ballot Image Bill

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(Photo by Upupa4me/Creative Commons)

Supporters of a bipartisan bill say Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs missed an opportunity to present voters with essential election records that would have allowed them to verify the accuracy and legitimacy of the state’s future elections.

The bill, sponsored in the House by Speaker of the House Ben Toma, and in the Senate by former Secretary of State Sen. Ken Bennett, received strong support from current Democrat Secretary of State Adrian Fontes as well as votes from legislative Democrats, but that was not enough to save it from yet another Hobbs veto.

House Bill 2560 would have provided voters with four sets of data to confirm Arizona’s election results. The first two data sets would have allowed voters to see that only eligible and qualified voters cast a ballot. The third and fourth data sets would have allowed voters to compare a digital image of every paper ballot to the way that ballot’s votes were recorded in the final results spreadsheet.

The bill would have provided a window into the starting and finish lines of the electronic counting process.

In her veto statement, Gov. Hobbs claimed that publishing ballot images would threaten anonymity and privacy and add to the spread of mis- and dis-information.

“Another stupid veto. Ballot images have nothing to indicate who cast them, so #Hobbs’ nonsense about privacy is dishonest,” tweeted consultant Constantin Querard. “Having actual images to compile is how you counter dis- or mis-information, so that’s a garbage take as well. Thx to @RepBenToma for the bill & to YES votes!”

“In fact, the bill would have achieved just the opposite,” said John Brakey, director of AUDIT Elections USA, a nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to increasing transparency and accuracy in elections. “The Governor has ignored the experience of multiple jurisdictions around the country that have been posting ballot images without the problems she claims would be caused. This bill would have helped to expose false election claims.”

Supporters argue the transparency provided by the bill would have thwarted conspiracy theory-inclined individuals from concocting far-fetched stories about election outcomes because voters could see for themselves what votes on ballots were processed, and compare them to the final tallies.

“This bill would have been transformative for Arizona because it would have enabled every voter to see true election results for themselves,” said Bennett. “Our country needs models for trust. Even Florida Democratic State Party Chair Nikki Fried wrote to Gov. Hobbs stating that HB 2560 ‘provides an unparalleled opportunity to enhance election accuracy, assist with efficient and reliable recounts, and promote the credibility of our election outcomes.’”

Democrats in Arizona, Florida, New York, Tennessee, North Carolina, California, and other states who were familiar with the bill’s transparency goals and election data sets praised the bill, while advocates for election integrity and transparency were less than kind about Hobbs’ veto.

Hobbs received letters from a bipartisan group of party leaders and officials across the country in support of the bill. The letters of support were sent to Hobbs after the bill was passed by the House and Senate on May 15: [View letters here]

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