Arizona’s new attorney general uses part of the voting process to increase rights

A unit created under the former attorney general Republican d Arizona the investigation of election fraud claims will now focus on voting rights and opportunities under the new Democratic attorney general.

Democratic Attorney General Kris Mayes told the Guardian that instead of prosecuting voter fraud, he would “reprioritize the mission and resources” of the unit to focused on “protecting voting rights and combating voter suppression”. Mayes won the attorney general race in November against opposition candidate Abe Hamadah only 280 votesa race that went to a state-ordered recount.

“Under my predecessor’s administration, the election integrity unit conducted extensive investigations into voter fraud and found little evidence of this occurring in Arizona,” Mayes said in a statement. “This is because cases of voter fraud are extremely rare.”

Mayes also plans for the group to work on protecting election workers, who are facing threats of violence and intimidation. And he hopes for the unit to protect the right of Arizonans to vote by mail, which has been attacked by Republican lawmakers and the state GOP in recent years even though it is the most popular way for Arizonans of all political parties. to make their votes.

In 2019, the Republican-controlled Arizona legislature and then governor, Republican Doug Ducey, added about half a million dollars in funding for a “voter integrity unit” in the attorney general’s office. Since then, the unit has brought many legal cases, including charges against four Latina women to a rural area of ​​the state to collect other people’s votes, which is illegal in Arizona.

It is not clear what will happen to the issues that are currently being done, including the collection of votes in Yuma County, Mayes’ office said. An attorney general’s web page has been created to allow people to file election complaints for investigation. live forever.

Until recently, the head of the unit under the former Republican attorney general, Mark Brnovich, was Jennifer Wright, a lawyer who criticized the Maricopa county election and send a letter in the district that is trying to study his election process. Wright left the office shortly after Mayes took over.

Since its inception, the unit has come under fire from Democrats who find its presence unnecessary, calling it lawyer to ask, and said it was done with fake news about the elections. Republicans also criticized the unit for not going far enough on election fraud. In one notable case, the unit investigated claims of hundreds of ballots cast by deceased persons, get only one voter with those whose names are said to be dead a vote was actually held.

When Brnovich sought funding for the unit, his office protect the action it is a way to protect elections and eliminate false information of fraud.

Despite the large number of full-time employees and hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding each year, the unit has not shown any social media or coordination. Most are 20 chapters it brought more than three years of individuals, breaking the electoral law, such as people using the vote of a dead family member or making a vote despite ineligibility to vote.

In a study published last yearThe Washington Post found that the work of the unit did not strengthen people’s confidence in the election process but instead “deepened doubts among many who rejected the victory of President Biden and wasted the resources of the good job”.

Brnovich could not be reached for comment on the unit and its fate under Mayes.

Other states led by Republicans have created similar voter fraud groups, some with more workers than Arizona. A Virginia unit including more than 20 employees who moved from other parts of the attorney general’s office to focus on election issues, and organizations such as the NAACP struggling to get information on what that unit is doing. In Florida, a new office dealing with election crimes was announced by Governor Ron DeSantis it led to the arrest of 20 people those with criminal records who falsely cast their ballots while believing they could vote.

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