In its latest offensive against no-excuse mail-in voting, a staple of Arizona elections for the past three decades, AZGOP is looking to cast doubt on upcoming election results.
"There is historical precedent of vote-buying fraud which ultimately led to secret ballot laws,” the state GOP wrote in a July 20 press release announcing the reward money. “Unfortunately, the movement towards mass mail-in voting completely undoes secret ballot reform. Mail-in ballots are not secret — once a person has a ballot in their home, they can easily show it to anyone, including bad actors.”
The party is offering the rewards to the first two people who can provide evidence that results in an arrest and conviction for vote-buying — but not without caveats. Its bounty offer comes with 10 terms, including the need for formal charges to be filed by the end of the year and proof of a conviction by the end of 2023.
"Election integrity is of paramount importance," according to the press release.
Republican critics claim that the practice, derisively referred to as “ballot harvesting,” enables collectors to persuade or even pay voters to select a particular candidate before taking the ballot. The Arizona legislature banned the practice in 2016.
In the film, which was released earlier this year, D’Souza uses cell-phone metadata to argue that more than 2,000 Democratic operatives nonetheless carried out the process illegally in Arizona and four other swing states. Fact-checkers have criticized his methodology as far too imprecise to support his conclusions.
Arizona Democrats blasted the bounty as another GOP effort "that jeopardizes our democracy."
Dick added that the award could lead people to unfairly target election workers.
“The 2022 elections both next week in August and again in November will be safe, secure, and accurate thanks to the hard work of dedicated elections officials across Arizona,” she said. “Their public service should be commended, not disparaged."
The bounty offer follows a failed attempt by the state GOP and Ward, its chairwoman, to overturn or suspend vote-by-mail before the primary. In June, a Mohave County Superior Court ruled against their lawsuit challenging the practice, affirming that Arizona's constitution authorizes the state legislature to pass laws permitting no-excuse mail-in ballots and that existing regulations preserve secrecy.
The state GOP did not respond to a request for comment by the Phoenix New Times.