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Arizona GOP Lawmakers Move To Ban Private Funds For Election Operations

Published: Friday, February 19, 2021 - 8:10am

The monumental task of hosting an election in the middle of the pandemic was aided in part by private funding.

Now some Republican representatives in the Arizona House want to prohibit state and local election officials from accepting those dollars in future elections. House Bill 2569 would make it illegal to spend private funds to prepare for or conduct an election, or even register voters.

Rep. Jake Hoffman (R-Queen Creek) said he sponsored the bill because elections should be funded solely by the government. 

“This bill is about impartiality in our election process, plain and simple,” he said.

Democrats said there wasn’t anything unfair about the way those funds were used. But for some Republicans, the issue was the source. Nine Arizona counties received grants funded through a nonpartisan nonprofit by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. So did the Secretary of State’s Office.

Jen Marson, executive director of the Arizona Association of Counties, said those dollars were vital to help cover costs associated with the extraordinary circumstances of the pandemic.

Democrats also cited voter information campaigns, particularly one run through the Secretary of State’s Office, as essential to combatting the spread of disinformation about voting -- an argument Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, took issue with.

“One person’s disinformation is another person’s truth. The thought that government officials involved in elections would decide what’s true and what’s false, and they try to spin peoples’ minds on it is frightening to me,” Kavanagh said.

The bill passed the House Government and Elections Committee 7-6 on party lines.