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Testimony

Testimony on the Arizona Partisan Review before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform

Gowri Ramachandran, senior counsel, testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform about the Arizona partisan review and the risk it poses to our democracy.

Published: October 7, 2021

On October 7, Gowri Ramachandran, senior counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice, testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform about the Arizona partisan review and efforts to sabotage our elections and our democracy. 

The Arizona Senate’s partisan review, and specifically the contractors who are conducting the review, fail to meet any of the basic standards that legitimate election audits should meet in order to earn confidence from the public: objectivity, transparency, and competence. Instead, the contractors’ most attention-grabbing findings fit the pattern that purveyors of voter fraud myths have long followed: they remain ignorant of basic probability, common election laws, and common election administration procedures. footnote1_7ylg7x3 1 Brennan Center for Justice, Analysis of the September 15, 2005 Voter Fraud Report Submitted to the New Jersey Attorney General, December 2005, 1, https://www.brennancenter.org/sites/default/files/analysis/Analysis%20of%20the%209-15-05%20Voter%20Fraud%20Report.pdf  They then raise baseless suspicions about their fellow citizens footnote2_7e1tidn 2 Brennan Center for Justice, Analysis of the September 15, 2005 Voter Fraud Report Submitted to the New Jersey Attorney General, December 2005, 1, https://www.brennancenter.org/sites/default/files/analysis/Analysis%20of%20the%209-15-05%20Voter%20Fraud%20Report.pdf and the dedicated public servants who administer elections. footnote3_lbun969 3 Reuters Staff, “Fact Check: Massachusetts Election Officials Have Not Destroyed Ballots or Committed Election Fraud,” Reuters, October 2, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-factcheck-election-ballot-massachuset/factcheck-massachusetts-election-officials-have-not-destroyed-ballots-or-committed-election-fraud-idUSKBN26N2AF

By seeding disinformation campaigns about elections, these partisan reviewers are laying the groundwork for future sabotage of our democracy. Recent efforts to pass laws that would permit state legislatures to overturn election results have failed, footnote4_w8g1ao9 4 H.B. 2720, 55th Leg., Reg. Sess. (Ariz. 2021).  but the continued spread of lies about elections set the stage for legitimating these efforts in the future. And these partisan reviews that continue to fuel the “Stop the Steal” movement have been spreading. footnote5_1qcw6fl 5 Kate Brumback and Nicholas Riccardi, “It’s Not Just Arizona: Push To Review 2020 Ballots Spreads,” AP News, May 25, 2021, https://apnews.com/article/donald-trump-arizona-election-2020-election-recounts-government-and-politics-4d5038b2bea05d2132cb4ada43516f67. Political actors in other states have proposed conducting their own partisan reviews, and many are treating the Arizona Senate’s venture as a model. footnote6_9w0if3r 6 Jonathan Bydlak et al., Partisan Election Review Efforts in Five States, Brennan Center for Justice, July 8, 2021, 11, https://www.brennancenter.org/sites/default/files/2021-07/Partisan%20Election%20Review%20Efforts%20Across%20the%20United%20States%20in%202021%20-%2007.08.21.pdf

Congress should provide resources to help and protect election officials from retaliation for ensuring eligible voters can exercise their rights. Through the Freedom to Vote Act, it should protect election workers during the vote tabulation process and require (and fund) legitimate post-election tabulation audits. Finally, by providing voters a remedy if their right to vote (and have that vote counted) in a federal election is infringed, the Act would protect against the danger of a state legislature or election official succumbing to future attempts to sabotage an election.

End Notes