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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_sacuftf 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_s1chu67 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_epoe­cl8 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_eagmc58 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_fho46d2 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_ji7oxeu 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