Home Election Integrity Sen. Sonny Borrelli has told all Arizona counties that voting machines can no longer be used.

Sen. Sonny Borrelli has told all Arizona counties that voting machines can no longer be used.

by USA Citizens Network
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Sen. Sonny Borrelli has told all Arizona counties that voting machines can no longer be used..

Borrelli tells counties they can’t use voting machines


Capitol Media Services

May 23, 2023 1:59 AM

PHOENIX — The No. 2 Republican in the state senate is telling county election officials they cannot use electronic equipment to cast, record and tabulate ballots unless it is manufactured and assembled in the United States — something not currently available.

But they are saying he has no idea about what he is speaking. And Secretary of State Adrian Fontes is telling those same county officials they are free to ignore what Senate Majority Leader Sonny Borrelli claims — Fontes says wrongfully — is a requirement.

In a letter Monday to supervisors in all 15 counties, Borrelli acknowledged that Gov. Katie Hobbs vetoed legislation that would have imposed that mandate. The governor said there is currently no equipment available that meets the requirement, meaning elections could not be properly run.

But the Lake Havasu City Republican pointed out that both the House and Senate approved a separate resolution — something that does not require gubernatorial consent — with essentially the same provisions. And Borrelli told the supervisors that from now on they can use only equipment for elections that meets the domestic content requirement.

Clint Hickman, who chairs the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, said there’s absolutely no truth to that.

“A single member of the Arizona State Senate cannot make laws or direct other divisions of government to take actions counter to state law,” he said in a prepared statement. And that law, Hickman said, requires the use of tabulation equipment to count paper ballots.

Constance Hargrove, Pima County’s elections director, agreed.

“This is a resolution, not legislation, regarding election equipment and systems,” she said in her statement.

“It does not have the force of law,” Hargrove said. “It’s the opinion of legislators.”

Mohave County Elections Director Allen Tempert was on vacation Monday and not available for comment. Deputy County Elections Director Steve Harris said the matter locally would be “for the board of supervisors to decide. I can’t speak for them.”

Fontes said if Borrelli and other lawmakers want to impose the mandate they have round up the votes to amend the actual law and then have it signed by the governor, “which is not the case for this non-binding resolution.”

The issue is an outgrowth of wild and unsubstantiated allegations that voting equipment used in the 2020, the one lost by Donald Trump, was vulnerable to hacking. There were even claims of a link between Dominion Voting Systems and the family of now-deceased Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez.

More recently, Kari Lake and Mark Finchem filed suit after they lost their 2022 races for governor and secretary of state, respectively, seeking to prohibit machine counts as being inherently unreliable. That bid was tossed out by a federal judge and the case is now on appeal.

Meanwhile Rep. Steve Montenegro, R-Goodyear, pushed through legislation earlier this year to forbid the use of voting equipment with foreign parts or not assembled here. He argued it’s a matter of “national security.”

“Voting systems are designated as ‘critical infrastructure’ by the Department of Homeland Security,” Montenegro said. What that means, he argued, is “strict regulation regarding component sourcing, manufacturing and production.”

Hobbs vetoed the measure as being unworkable even though it had a delayed effective date of 2028 because no such equipment existed.

Borrelli, undeterred, said her action doesn’t matter. He said the resolution adopted by a majority of the members of the House and Senate themselves trumps whatever the governor did.

His authority, Borrelli said, is that the U.S. Constitution gives states the authority to regulate the “times, place and manner” of conducting federal elections. And that, he argued, allows the Legislature itself to determine that electronic voting systems — the “manner” of elections — is not authorized if the equipment contains foreign parts.

But Borrelli said it’s about even more than the source.

The resolution contends the only equipment that can be used for elections has to come from “trusted suppliers, using trusted processes accredited by the Defense Microelectronics Activity as prescribed by the U.S. Department of Defense.”

It also would have allowed the use of only machines where the source code is made public. And ballot images and system log files from each tabulator would have to be recorded on media that could not be written on more than once, “with clear chain of custody and posted on the Secretary of State’s website free of charge to the public within 24 hours after the close of the polls.”

None of that, said Fontes, can be mandated by a resolution. And he said what Arizona is doing now is what the law requires.

“Election equipment must be certified by the federal and state government by specific requirements outlined in federal and state law,” he said.

“That certification process is being followed in Arizona and all applicable election equipment being used in Arizona is certified,” Fontes said. “If those requirements or certification processes were to be changed, it would require a regular bill to be passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor.”

Fontes referred any other legal questions to Attorney General Kris Mayes. And a spokesman said Mayes agrees that the resolution on which Borrelli is relying “has no legal weight.”

It also appears that the majority leader is acting on his own, despite his claim in his letter to county officials that it is the will of the Legislature that only voting equipment that meets the requirements of the resolution ca be used.

Senate President Warren Petersen, R-Gilbert, referred questions about Borrelli’s claim to him.

“It’s his release,” Petersen said.

And Kim Quintero, spokeswoman for the Senate GOP said Borrelli “is working independently of the Senate majority with regards to this topic.”

Borrelli did not reply to repeated requests for comment.

Hickman, a Republican like Borrelli, said he understands what the senator is trying to do.

“I’m supportive of sourcing machinery and components made in the United States,” he said. “But until that is realistic, the board of supervisors will appropriate the dollars needed to acquire (federal) Election Assistance Commission certified equipment in order to perform accurate, secure elections as defined by state law.”

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