Shawnna Bolick, author of bill to reject voters’ presidential choice, running to be top elections official

By: - June 22, 2021 10:35 am
Shawnna Bolick

Rep. Shawnna Bolick, R-Phoenix. Photo by Gage Skidmore | Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

State Rep. Shawnna Bolick, who sponsored legislation earlier this year that would have allowed the legislature to reject voters’ selection in presidential races, is running to become Arizona’s top elections official. 

Bolick, a Phoenix Republican who was first elected to the Arizona House of Representatives in 2018, becomes the third GOP candidate in what is quickly becoming a crowded race. Incumbent Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, is running for governor instead of seeking re-election, leaving an open race for Arizona’s second-highest elected officer, who oversees elections in Arizona. The post is also first in the line of succession for governor.

In a press statement announcing her campaign, Bolick touted herself as a leader in the legislature on the issue of election integrity.

“It’s time to secure our elections once and for all and de-politicize the office of Secretary of State,” Bolick said. “51% of voters now believe cheating likely affected the outcome of the 2020 election. We must get to work immediately restoring trust and fixing the problems that, quite frankly, have been there for some time.”

Former President Donald Trump and many of his supporters questioned the election results over baseless fraud allegations and conspiracy theories. No credible evidence has emerged since the election that President Joe Biden’s win in Arizona was the result of fraud or other improprieties.

Bolick made headlines in Arizona and across the country early in the 2020 legislative session for her sponsorship of a wide-ranging elections bill whose most notable feature was the power it would have granted lawmakers the power to reject voters’ choices in presidential races. Bolick was also one of 20 Republican legislators who signed a resolution in December calling on Congress to either accept Arizona’s 11 GOP electors for Trump or to nullify the state’s electoral votes for Biden until the legislature could conduct a full forensic audit to resolve any irregularities with the election

Editor’s Thought Bubble: The most un-democratic bill I’ve ever seen

Under Bolick’s House Bill 2720, a simple majority of lawmakers in both chambers could revoke the secretary of state’s certification of the winning slate of presidential electors. That authority would have no strings attached: It didn’t require lawmakers to demonstrate a good reason for revoking certification or limit its authority to particular circumstances. Lawmakers would have been able to exercise that power regardless of whether the legislature was in session. 

The bill did not specify how presidential electors would be chosen if the legislature used its authority to reject the voters’ choice. The language of the bill says the legislature “retains its legislative authority regarding the office of presidential elector.” 

Bolick said the bill would not allow the legislature to overturn voters’ decision in presidential races, but would not discuss the details of the bill with the Arizona Mirror, referring instead to previous interviews she’d given and an op-ed she wrote for the Washington Examiner in February. She also issued a statement in January saying that her bill “would give the Arizona Legislature back the power it delegated to certify the electors.”

“It is time for the Arizona Legislature to regain the power it delegated to certify the electors, as stated in Article 2, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution,” Bolick wrote. The section of the Constitution that Bolick cited directs legislatures to decide the manner in which their states select presidential electors, which Arizona’s legislature has always delegated to the voters.

Her op-ed in the Examiner includes a number of additional details that weren’t part of HB2720 and which would change the normally pro forma process of certification, in which the secretary of state, governor and attorney general certify the results of the election based on vote counts from Arizona’s 15 counties. Bolick would replace that system with a much more cumbersome process in which a legislative committee would investigate the results and would have the opportunity to send a different slate of electors to Congress than the one approved by voters.

Bolick wrote that she wanted a Joint Legislative Election Oversight Committee with members selected by Democratic and Republican leaders in the legislature. That committee would review counties’ vote totals, monitor election-related court challenges and would have the ability to call witnesses “to ensure no violations to the state’s election procedures occurred.”

If the committee found misconduct in the election, the legislature would have to decide which slate of electors to send to Congress. Bolick wrote that her plan calls for a two-thirds majority for lawmakers to approve a slate of electors. 

Bolick joins a Republican primary that already includes Rep. Mark Finchem, R-Oro Valley, and Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, R-Scottsdale. On the Democratic side, House Minority Leader Reginald Bolding, D-Phoenix, has filed to run and former Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes plans to run as well.

Bolick is married to Arizona Supreme Court Justice Clint Bolick.

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Jeremy Duda
Jeremy Duda

Jeremy Duda is a Phoenix native and began his career in journalism in 2003 after graduating from the University of Arizona. Jeremy Duda previously served as the Mirror's associate Editor. Prior to joining the Arizona Mirror, he worked at the Arizona Capitol Times, where he spent eight years covering the Governor's Office and two years as editor of the Yellow Sheet Report. Before that, he wrote for the Hobbs News-Sun of Hobbs, NM, and the Daily Herald of Provo, Utah. Jeremy is also the author of the history book “If This Be Treason: the American Rogues and Rebels Who Walked the Line Between Dissent and Betrayal.”