Republican Arizona Senate President Warren Peterson warned of legal action targeting Secretary of State Adrian Fontes over a new draft of the state’s elections manual.
Along with GOP House Speaker Ben Toma, Peterson penned a letter to Fontes on Monday highlighting numerous issues with the update. Arizona is still reeling from its controversy-marred 2022 general election.
Alleged widespread irregularities led many to question an election that installed a Democrat in the governor’s office last November. Multiple lawsuits have been filed over numerous charges of election interference.
New: AZ Senate President Warren Petersen warns Secretary of State Adrian Fontes of lawsuit if he doesn't change the draft of his new Elections Procedures Manual, saying the draft "misinterprets Arizona election laws, unlawfully expands the powers of the Secretary of State…" pic.twitter.com/YCqMgvJpy2
— Jen Fifield (@JenAFifield) August 14, 2023
Peterson focused on the contentious holdup in enforcement of a 2021 state law that purges people from the active early voting list who have not cast a ballot in four years. Those people have also “not responded to notification” from county officials.
The Senate leader charged that Fontes has a track record of “distorting our elections laws and pushing the envelope on questionable procedures.”
Peterson called for the secretary of state to modify the updated Elections Procedures Manual (EPM) with submitted corrections. He added that “failure to do so will result in legal action.”
Republican lawmakers previously asked for an extension of time allowed for public comment on the EPM. GOP leaders declared that two weeks was not long enough for the people to review the draft.
Fontes predictably declined to extend the deadline.
He stated that the “heightened scrutiny of our elections” means that local officials need specific and clear guidance on voting laws. He claimed the manual will ensure “the running of safe, secure, and accurate elections in every corner of our state.”
A pair of Republican lawmakers on Aug. 4 asked for the public to be given more time to review changes to the state’s legal guidance. They called the two-week deadline “too restrictive” for determining whether the draft EPM complies with Arizona law.
Fontes responded by asserting the elections manual is not required by statute to be vetted by the people. He only allowed the two-week window as a show of “transparency.”
Former President Donald Trump narrowly lost Arizona in 2020. Then another heated contest went down to the wire last November that saw Republican Kari Lake lose a bitter battle with Democrat Katie Hobbs for governor.