In a move that’s sparked widespread concern and debate, Arizona State Sen. Anthony Kern, a Republican, has introduced a controversial measure that could fundamentally alter the way presidential electors are chosen in the state, effectively removing the power directly from the hands of voters. This proposal, known as Senate Concurrent Resolution 1014, is raising eyebrows and alarm bells about the future of democratic processes in Arizona.
Kern’s proposal suggests a radical shift from the longstanding tradition of utilizing the popular vote to determine which candidates receive the state’s 16 Electoral College votes. Instead, it would place the power squarely in the hands of the state legislature, a move that, while technically legal under the U.S. Constitution, diverges sharply from the democratic norm established in the mid-1800s. The U.S. Constitution does grant state legislatures the authority to decide the method for appointing presidential electors, but every state has chosen to rely on the popular vote for well over a century.
This measure, which still needs to pass through both chambers of the state legislature and receive the approval of Arizona voters via a referendum, faces a steep uphill battle. The very notion of asking voters to relinquish their direct say in presidential elections is unprecedented in modern times and is viewed by many as a direct assault on the foundational principles of democracy.
The backdrop to this dramatic proposal is the 2020 presidential election, in which Joe Biden secured a narrow victory over Donald Trump in Arizona, flipping a state long considered a Republican stronghold. Sen. Kern, a staunch Trump ally, has been actively involved in efforts to challenge the legitimacy of the 2020 election results, including participating in the dubious “audit” conducted by Cyber Ninjas and attending the rally on January 6, 2021, that preceded the Capitol riot.
Democratic critics, including the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, have condemned Kern’s resolution as an attack on the core principle that the people should decide their representatives. The move is seen as part of a broader trend of election-denying actions and legislation that seeks to undermine public trust in the electoral process and consolidate power within partisan legislative bodies.
As Arizona and the nation watch closely, Kern’s resolution is a stark reminder of the ongoing debates surrounding election integrity, the role of state legislatures in determining electoral outcomes, and the importance of safeguarding democratic norms and practices. Whether this proposal gains traction or not, it underscores the significant challenges facing the U.S. electoral system and the need for a vigilant defense of democratic principles.