The Arizona Senate plans to hold a public hearing on how the 2020 election was conducted, now that every legal challenge to the state’s election results has been dismissed.
Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, R-Scottsdale, confirmed to the Arizona Capitol Times on Wednesday night that she was temporarily appointed to the Senate Judiciary Committee for a public hearing on the election.
Ugenti-Rita did not share further details about the upcoming hearing, and Senate President Karen Fann declined to comment.
Republican lawmakers in both the House and Senate have been publicly and privately advocating for such a hearing for weeks. Some, including Senate Judiciary Committee member and Majority Whip Sonny Borrelli, R-Lake Havasu City, have been at protests claiming that the election was rigged — despite having not presented viable evidence to prove their claims, and seven lawsuits attempting to challenge the results failing in court.
Others, including Sen. J.D. Mesnard, R-Chandler, have frustrated people on all sides of the conflict by refusing to make any kind of statement about election results. Mesnard said he has been privately pushing for a formal legislative hearing, which would bring together both the Arizona voters who brought forth theories that the election was rigged during an unofficial forum last week with lawmakers and Trump attorneys, and the election officials who can rebut those claims.
“What really alarms me is the number of people who don’t believe our elections are anything but rigged,” he said. “If we don’t do something to try to work that through, as tedious and as painstaking as it is and as much time as it could take, then you don’t get that trust back.”
Ugenti-Rita, who has long been the leading legislative Republican on election issues, has also taken the approach of advocating for investigating allegations for the purpose of building confidence in elections, rather than following her colleagues who publicly insist that the election was somehow stolen from Donald Trump.
She will also lead the Senate Government Committee next year, and pledged in a statement last month to take ample time during the session for testimony from election officials, election equipment vendors, poll workers and voters about the 2020 election to guide potential policy changes.
“Whether it is modernizing our election software and equipment, improving the timeliness of election results, updating our voter rolls, or reducing the opportunity for fraud and undue influence, Arizona voters deserve to have an election system they not only believe in, but want to participate in,” she said. “Our democracy is only as strong as our fair and free elections and I am committed to restoring public confidence in the process and outcomes of our elections.”