A proposal by Republican election deniers in Arizona to opt out of the state’s government-run presidential primary election in 2024 and instead hold the party’s own one-day, in-person election with paper ballots has caused anxiety among top Republicans in Washington. The proposal was rejected by the state party leader, as the party does not have the resources to run an election for an estimated 1.4 million eligible voters.
The divide between conservatives who want to radically change voting procedures after former President Donald Trump’s 2020 electoral defeat and those who have accepted his loss and want to work within institutional election norms has been demonstrated most vividly in Arizona. The battle over the management of the state’s nominating contest follows years of criticism of voting norms by Trump and his supporters.
Arizona officials who support and oppose the paper ballot initiative have lobbied Trump’s top aides to back their position. Some officials believe Trump would support the proposal, considering he has called for paper ballots in the past. However, other Arizona officials, including the state party leader, believe the proposal is unworkable and could bankrupt the party.
The proposal by the Maricopa County Republican Committee runs counter to efforts by the Republican National Committee (RNC) and groups allied with Trump to embrace early voting. The RNC launched a “Bank Your Vote” program to encourage early voting, and other efforts are underway to build programs for collecting and returning early ballots.
The Maricopa County GOP proposal drew criticism from the state party, with Chairman Jeff DeWit saying it would breach the party’s bylaws and invite legal complications. The Arizona Democratic Party confirmed that it will participate in the traditional government-run primary in March.