Arizona Senate votes to investigate campaign practices of social media, search engines

PHOENIX — State senators voted Wednesday to spend $500,000 to investigate the practices of social media platforms and search engines to see if they are violating campaign finance laws.

The provision, inserted at the last minute into the state budget, is part of a proposal by Sen. Sonny Borrelli, R-Lake Havasu City, to enact what he said are reforms to state election laws and provide more security for elections.

For example, Senate Bill 1819 requires new security features on ballots, like holograms, hidden numbers visible only under ultraviolet and the use of thermochromic, tri-thermochromic, photochromic or optically variable inks. Borrelli said these are designed to prevent counterfeit ballots from being counted.

“Such countermeasures are used in protecting our currency,” he said. “Shouldn’t your ballot have the same protections?”

But during floor debate, Sen. Tony Navarrete, D-Phoenix, said this appears to be more about politics than security.

“It continues to solidify the conspiracy theories that continue to exist across Arizona and, quite frankly, across the country,” he said.

Sen. Martin Quezada, D-Glendale, questioned whether Borrelli — or any of the other Republicans supporting the plan — has any idea what they are proposing.