Borrelli ordered AZ counties to stop using voting machines. Here's why he can't

By Ben Giles
Published: Monday, May 22, 2023 - 5:18pm

GOP Sen. Sonny Borrelli
Howard Fischer/Capitol Media Services
Sonny Borrelli

Citing authority he does not actually have, a state senator has ordered all Arizona counties to conduct future federal elections without the use of electronic voting equipment.

In identical letters to all 15 counties, Republican Sen. Sonny Borrelli claims that the continued use of voting systems — “which are made with components from countries considered adversaries to the U.S.,” he wrote — has left Arizona, and the rest of the nation, “in an extremely vulnerable and dangerous position.”

Republicans sought to address this concern with Senate Bill 1074, which would have barred the use of any electronic voting equipment that isn’t fully manufactured in the United States.

However, Gov. Katie Hobbs vetoed the bill, stating that such election equipment does not exist.

Borrelli blasted the governor's April veto at the time, and accused her of playing blatant political games.

With no law to which to stake his claim, Borrelli’s Monday letters to Arizona counties cite SCR 1037 — a nonbinding concurrent resolution adopted on party line votes by Republican lawmakers in March. It declares that the Arizona Legislature prohibits the use of any electronic voting equipment that isn’t designed, manufactured, integrated and assembled in the U.S.

Democratic Secretary of State Adrian Fontes says Arizona counties are under no obligation to follow Borrelli’s orders.

SCR 1037 “expresses a desire to restrict the use of certain electronic voting machines,” Fontes said in a statement. But the resolution “is nonbinding and does not have the force of law,” he added.

Concurrent resolutions are typically used to make or amend rules that bind the Arizona Senate and House of Representatives, according to attorney Tom Ryan. In other circumstances, Ryan said resolutions can be used to express legislative opinion, such as the approval or disapproval of certain acts of Congress.

What a resolution is not, however, is “a law that can serve as a mandate or a prohibition on anyone outside the House and Senate,” Ryan said.

Put another way, “a concurrent resolution is not binding on any board of supervisors or any election director or anybody else. And it’s just, it’s nonsense for [Borrelli] to say so,” Ryan added.

Christian Slater, spokesman for Hobbs, tweeted that Borrelli’s letter was “completely false” and “grossly irresponsible.”

Borrelli could not be reached for comment. But it appears his views on the Legislature’s authority aren’t shared by the rest of the Senate GOP majority leadership.

A spokeswoman for Senate Republicans said Borrelli was operating “independently” by sending the letters to Arizona counties.

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