A proposal by Republican election deniers in Arizona who want 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 that would be counted by hand, has caused anxiety among top Republicans in Washington, who fear being drawn into a messy fight.
The state party leader rejected the Maricopa County Republican Committee’s proposal shortly ahead of a deadline on Friday after days of frenzied discussions that involved national Republicans and advisers to former president Donald Trump — likely setting up political backlash in 2024 in a state whose GOP has been pulled to the right in recent years by MAGA loyalists and election skeptics.
Jeff DeWit, chair of the state party, concluded that the party does not have the money, the manpower or the infrastructure to run an election for an estimated 1.4 million eligible voters.
The fight over management of the state’s nominating contest on March 19 demonstrates most vividly the divide between conservatives who want to radically change voting procedures after Trump’s 2020 electoral defeat and those who have accepted his loss and want to work within institutional election norms during the 2024 contest.
The battle — which is playing out within the largest voting jurisdiction in a state thatwill help decide the presidency and control of the U.S. Senate — follows years of vilification of voting norms by Trumpand his supporters. It is a consequence of deepening dysfunction within the party on an issue that has accelerated Democratic gains in the newly competitive state.