Arizona GOP resolution seeks to shift presidential elector selection from voters to legislature

The bill, which has not yet been assigned to a committee, faces significant hurdles given its radical proposition to dismantle voters' rights in presidential elections.

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Arizona State Senator Anthony Kern (R) has introduced a resolution that could fundamentally alter the way presidential electors are chosen in the state. Senate Concurrent Resolution 1014 proposes to shift the responsibility of selecting the 16 Electoral College electors from the voters to the legislature, a change that would require approval by both the state Senate and House, followed by a referendum vote by Arizona residents.

The bill, which has not yet been assigned to a committee, faces significant hurdles given its radical proposition to dismantle voters’ rights in presidential elections. Despite the slim chances of enactment, the introduction of SCR 1014 by Kern, a staunch ally of former President Donald Trump, signals a persistent far-right faction within the Arizona legislature that challenges the foundations of democratic electoral processes.

The resolution draws on the U.S. Constitution’s allowance for state legislatures to determine the method of appointing presidential electors. Article II, Section 1, Clause 2 states that electors can be appointed “in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct,” providing a constitutional basis for the proposed change. However, this would mark a dramatic shift from the longstanding tradition of utilizing popular votes to decide Electoral College representation, a practice that Arizona has upheld since its inception.

Sen. Anthony Kern’s political trajectory, marked by his alignment with Trumpian election denialism, has raised eyebrows. Kern’s involvement in post-2020 election controversies, including the dubious “audit” conducted by Cyber Ninjas and his participation in the January 6 Capitol rally, underscores his commitment to challenging election outcomes unfavorable to his political allegiances. His latest legislative endeavor is seen by many as an extension of these efforts to undermine electoral integrity.

The proposal has elicited strong reactions from various quarters, with critics decrying it as an affront to democratic principles. Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee National Press Secretary Sam Paisley criticized the measure, stating, “Arizona Republicans are attacking the most essential tenet of our elections: that the people decide their representatives.” Columnist EJ Montini of the Arizona Republic lambasted the resolution as “Undemocratic. Un-American. Idiotic,” particularly given Kern’s controversial background and the implications for voter disenfranchisement.

Amid mounting concerns over the erosion of democratic norms, Democratic officials and voting rights advocates are mobilizing to counteract the potential impact of SCR 1014. The Pima County Democratic Party and national figures like Sam Paisley have highlighted the existential threat such measures pose to the electoral process. Casey Clowes, voting rights director at Progress Arizona, urged residents to voice their opposition, emphasizing the importance of preserving the electorate’s role in determining election outcomes.

As Arizona finds itself at the center of a contentious debate over electoral rights, the resolution by Sen. Kern has become emblematic of broader national tensions surrounding election integrity and democratic governance. With democracy advocates rallying to defend the sanctity of the vote, the outcome of this legislative battle will be closely watched as a bellwether for the health of electoral democracy in America. “This is a full sound-the-alarm moment for American democracy,” Paisley asserted.

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