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Southern Arizona legislator dumps bill to let lawmakers override election results
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Southern Arizona legislator dumps bill to let lawmakers override election results

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Sen. David Gowan

Sen. David Gowan, a Sierra Vista Republican, has introduced SB 1593, which would require that county recorders send out ballots 22 days before an election instead of 27.

PHOENIX — Facing some blistering criticism and the possibility of harming Republican reelection efforts, a Southern Arizona lawmaker has pulled the plug on a proposal to let the legislature override the choice of voters for president.

Sen. David Gowan, R-Sierra Vista, said his SCR 1006 simply recognizes that the U.S. Constitution gives lawmakers the ultimate power to choose electors. What his proposal would do is actually allow them to exercise that authority by requiring a special legislative session after every presidential vote to “investigate the results” and decide what result to certify.

US President Donald Trump, in a farewell address released on Tuesday, urged prayers for the new administration of President-elect Joe Biden but declined to acknowledge his Democratic successor by name.

And as a constitutional amendment, it is worded to preempt any other action, whether statutory or in court, to interfere with that authority.

“This is to bring the plenary power back to the body where we have sole authority on these issues,” Gowan said.

“In that case, why even have a presidential election?” asked Sen. Sean Bowie, D-Phoenix, as lawmakers would be free to substitute their own judgment.

Gowan said that’s based on a false presumption that would happen.

“I wouldn’t suspect any vote of the people if we have the vote of the people,” Gowan responded. Still, Gowan said there’s a reason for requiring a special legislative session after each presidential vote.

“The reality is you want to make sure that everything would be on the level,” he said. And it would allow lawmakers to do an audit before certifying the results that they — or a majority of them — believe is accurate.

Alex Gulotta, state director for All Voting is Local, said there’s no factual basis for the proposal. Instead, he said, it “helps perpetuate the big lie” that the 2020 election was somehow stolen. And pointed out that nothing in SCR 1006 requires lawmakers to cite any cause or reason for replacing the judgment of a majority of voters for their own.

“The will of the people is replaced by our new overlords,” Gulotta said.

Randy Perez, democracy director for Living United for Change in Arizona, described the measure as “offensive.”

But Joel Edman, lobbyist for the Arizona Advocacy Network, had a slightly different take.

“If you support this idea, I hope you’ll vote for it,” he told members of the Senate Appropriations Committee late Tuesday.

Edman pointed out that Gowan’s proposal, as a constitutional amendment, would have to go to voters in 2022 for ratification. That’s also when all legislative seats are up for grabs and any lawmakers seeking higher office would have to face voters.

“And if you think your voters’ vote for president shouldn’t count if you decide otherwise, they deserve to know that,” Edman said.

After all the testimony, Gowan, who chairs the committee, chose not to bring it for a vote.

Gowan did not respond to messages about his decision to propose the measure, to schedule a hearing — and then quash it without a vote.

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