A Trump supporter in the state legislature has crafted legislation designed to give the president the state’s 11 electoral votes even as some GOP lawmakers in Washington work to keep Congress from certifying the election Wednesday for Joe Biden.
SCR 1002, introduced by Sen. Kelly Townsend, R-Mesa, is based on getting a majority of lawmakers from both the state House and Senate to approve a resolution — and quickly — saying that the general election “was marred by irregularities so significant as to render it highly doubtful whether the certified results accurately represent the will of the voters.”
Townsend acknowledges that the 11 Democrat electors already cast their votes for Joe Biden on Dec. 14, the date required under federal law. And that, she said, makes it impossible to re-run the election.
But she contends that the U.S. Constitution still gives the Arizona Legislature the power to “exercise its best judgment as to which state of electors the voters prefer.” And that, Townsend said, are the 11 would-be electors who were pledged to Trump and would have voted for him on Dec. 14 if the official — and, she contends, tainted — results had been different.
Legal questions aside, the move could come too late.
Lawmakers do not come into session until Jan. 11. And if the congressional count is completed Wednesday or even by the end of the week, any vote by Arizona legislators to change electors would be legally meaningless.
But Townsend’s proposal is built on two presumptions.
The first is that Trump supporters in Congress will find a way to delay that official count. That could take the form of refusing to accept the electoral votes from so-called “disputed” states, including Arizona, unless and until there is an audit in each state of the tally.
That, then, dovetails with the bid by Sen. Eddie Farnsworth, R-Gilbert, to get the election materials he wants from Maricopa County to do such an audit. He wants everything from copies of early ballots to access to the machines used to count the ballots.
Townsend said her resolution is ready for action “if the audit is completed before the 20th,” referring to the day that Biden is set to be sworn in.
“We will have to watch it all play out,” she said.
Townsend’s claim about “irregularities” mirrors what some Trump supporters have been contending since the final election results showed Biden outpolled the president by 10,457 votes in Arizona.
So far, though, not a single lawsuit in state or federal court has disturbed the results, with judges saying there was no evidence of the kind of widespread fraud or misconduct being alleged. Townsend, however, said that’s irrelevant.
“The legislature has plenary power in this, not the judges,” she said, referring to federal constitutional provisions which leave the manner of selecting electors up to state lawmakers. “It is solely up to us.”
Only thing is, the legislature already made its decision, spelling out in statute that it is the voters who choose the electors. And attorneys for the legislature have said it is too late now to retroactively change the rules for the 2020 election.
And a separate law adopted in 2017 requires presidential electors to cast their votes for the candidates for president and vice president who jointly received the most votes according to the official statewide canvass. In fact, any elector who does not cast a ballot according to the popular vote is automatically removed from office.
Townsend, however, told Capitol Media Services she is undeterred from pursuing her measure.
“Uncharted territory commands preparation,” she said.