An Arizona lawmaker who signed on to be a “fake elector” for Donald Trump after the former president lost his bid for a second term has introduced a bill that would allow members of the statehouse to overturn future election results that they don’t like.
The bill, formally known as Senate Concurrent Resolution 1014 and sponsored by state Sen. Anthony Kern, seeks to bypass the popular vote altogether.
“[I]t is the responsibility of the Arizona Secretary of State to certify elections, including elections for President of the United States, but the sole authority to appoint presidential electors is granted to the Legislature,” the four-line bill reads. Therefore, it concludes, “[T]he Legislature, and no other official, shall appoint presidential electors in accordance with the United States Constitution.”
Giving the legislature absolute power to control Arizona’s electoral college votes, regardless of who won the popular vote, would disenfranchise millions of Arizonans.
“This is a full sound-the-alarm moment for American democracy. Arizona Republicans are attacking the most essential tenet of our elections: that the people decide their representatives,” Sam Paisley, national press secretary for the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, said in an emailed statement. “Since 2020, we’ve seen hundreds of Republican legislators across the country willing to support efforts to challenge and overturn election results, but this latest attempt to remove the will of the people from the presidential selection process is one of the gravest threats to democracy we’ve seen yet.”
Kern did not immediately respond to requests for comment left with his office on Tuesday.
A Minnesota native, Kern says in his official bio that he had a “heart felt [sic] desire to serve in the military during Desert Storm but being a single dad and raising two sons at that time he was unable to.” He has a degree in business administration, is self-employed, “believes in entrepreneurs and owed [sic] a private investigation business,” it goes on, noting that he has “been involved in the Block Watch program,” and “started the City of Phoenix Employees for Christ organization in 1995.”
A former code enforcement officer in the City of El Mirage, Kern was fired in 2014 for lying to his supervisor about a lost tablet computer. His name was added to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office’s so-called Brady List, a database of police employees with known credibility issues, that same year. (Kern later tried, unsuccessfully, to get his name removed from the list, only to be outed for the brazen attempt in a Phoenix New Times exposé.)
Paisley described Arizona’s Republican caucus as “a hotbed of MAGA extremism,” and Kern has made no secret of his affinity for the cause. He attended the Jan. 6, 2021, “Stop the Steal” rally and subsequent Capitol riot—although he has not been accused of entering the building itself—and allegedly used campaign cash to fund his trip.
“SOLIDLY TEAM MAGA,” Kern says on his campaign page for his current congressional run.
In October, Josh Gray, an IT worker who lives in Kern’s district, filed a complaint against the lawmaker, claiming he illegally spent roughly $2,000 donated to his failed re-election bid on airfare to and from D.C. plus lodging while there.
Reached by phone on Tuesday, Gray said Kern’s proposal to undermine the popular vote in Arizona is hardly a shock.
“It’s literally what he tried to do back in 2021,” Gray told The Daily Beast. “It doesn’t surprise me that Kern would be the one to put it out there, considering he was one of the fake electors in Arizona.”
Kern’s brazen behavior has largely “gone unchecked,” according to Gray, who said, “If there’s no accountability, it could inspire people” to follow his lead in other states.
“I’m not, like, a full-time activist, I work in IT,” Gray said. “I just don’t like some of the ways people try to manipulate the system, people like Kern, who attack democracy, in a way, to get their way. We’re pretty familiar with that in Arizona.”