Lone GOP State Senator Stops Arizona Bill to Limit Automatic Mailing of Absentee Ballots in ‘Temper Tantrum’

AZ State Sen. Kelly Townsend. Screenshot via YouTube.
Screenshot via YouTube

The Republican-controlled Arizona State Senate failed to pass an election integrity bill that tightens the rules for maintaining lists of voters who automatically are mailed absentee ballots Thursday when State Sen. Kelly Townsend (R-16) surprised her colleagues by joining with all 14 Democrats who voted no when the bill came to the floor.

Senate Bill 1485 maintains the language of the current Arizona statute that, “Any voter may request to be included on a list of voters to receive an early ballot for any election for which the county voter registration roll is used to prepare the election register,” but specifies a new requirement that a voter who has previously requested to be added to that list of early ballot recipients shall be removed from that list if, “the voter fails to vote an early ballot in both the primary election and the general election for two consecutive primary and general elections for which there was a federal, statewide, or legislative race on the ballot.”

Sixteen members of the Arizona State Senate are Republicans, 14 are Democrats. After State Sen. Townsend (pictured) made her surprise announcement on the Senate floor Thursday she would join the Democrats and vote no on the bill, the bill’s sponsor, State Sen. Michelle Ugente-Rita (R-23) also voted no, a parliamentary maneuver which allows her to bring the bill up again for another floor vote before the current legislative session ends. The bill failed subsequently by a vote of 16 to 14.

The bill passed the Arizona House by a strict party-line 31 to 29 vote Tuesday.

NBC News reported on the details of Thursday’s State Senate floor drama:

The bill’s sponsor, Republican state Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, said on the floor it was “disappointing to be on the receiving end of someone’s temper tantrum.”

Townsend said she wouldn’t vote on any of the other proposed election changes until after the audit was completed, and complained that her own election bills had died in the committee.

“Absolutely I’m upset about all of my election bills — dead. Absolutely, I’m upset. You want to see a temper tantrum? I can show you one if you really want to see it,” she said.

Late Thursday, Heritage Action released a statement from Vice President of Government Relations and Communications Garrett Bess, in which he said Townsend’s “no” vote on SB 1485  was “a short-sighted attempt to draw attention to other election bills which failed to pass out of committee.”:

Today, Arizona Senator Kelly Townsend voted against SB1485, a bill which she had already voted for twice, in a short-sighted attempt to draw attention to other election bills which failed to pass out of committee. While there is still work to be done on election reform in the state, it should not come at the expense of current legislation that would improve Arizona’s early vote-by-mail system, safeguard against potential fraud, and save taxpayer dollars. Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, the bill’s sponsor, and other legislators have been working tirelessly to pass a number of bills that would strengthen the integrity of Arizona’s elections and improve voter trust in the system. No conservative should oppose these bills.

Heritage Action supports SB 1485, and we call on lawmakers to pass the bill, along with bills like SB 1713, which requires voter ID to vote by mail. While woke celebrities have smeared the bill, the truth is that a wide majority of Arizonans support these common-sense bills. The legislature should pass them without delay.

A source familiar with Thursday’s events in the Arizona State Senate told Breitbart News the bill may yet pass during the current session of the Arizona State Legislature.

“Hopefully Sen. Townsend will work something out with Sen. Ugenti-Rita,” the source said.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R-AZ) has already signed two other election integrity bills into law so far this year: One prohibits private funding of election administration, and another removes dead people from the voter rolls.


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