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Today's newsletter is 854 words — a 3.3-minute read.

1 big thing: 🗳️ The deepfake election is here

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

Prepare yourselves, voters. Election deepfakes are coming, and fighting them is going to be difficult.

Why it matters: This is the first election cycle since the rapid adoption of generative artificial intelligence that can realistically mimic public figures.

  • Misinformation and disinformation have long been staples of elections, but AI and deepfakes will make it harder to distinguish truth from fiction.

Driving the news: Arizona is among the states where lawmakers are considering legislation to combat this new technology.

  • Legislation sponsored by state Rep. Alexander Kolodin (R-Scottsdale) would give candidates two years to ask a court to officially declare an image or audio to be a digital impersonation — but it would not give them the ability to sue for damages.
  • For deepfakes published within 180 days of an election, candidates could seek an expedited preliminary declaration.

Flashback: The New Hampshire presidential primary may have provided a glimpse of the future when voters received a deepfake phone call from President Biden's manipulated voice urging them not to vote.

Zoom out: There are existing laws against voter suppression and election disruption that can be used against deepfakes, Secretary of State Adrian Fontes tells Axios.

What he's saying: Fontes calls Kolodin's bill a good start, but he wants stricter laws against spreading election misinformation and disinformation.

But, but, but: Legislation can go only so far.

  • Fontes says there needs to be open communication between election officials, the media, law enforcement, political parties and others to repudiate deepfakes.

Plus: He says social media companies bear some responsibility, too. Several major tech companies last week signed a pact to voluntarily adopt "reasonable precautions" against the use of AI to disrupt elections.

Reality check: Voters will also have to become savvier when it comes to sniffing out the new generation of election disinformation.

Read the full story

2. 🥐 Food waste, begone!

Photo: Courtesy of Too Good To Go

A new app that connects shoppers with discounted restaurant food that would otherwise be thrown away officially launches in metro Phoenix today.

Why it matters: Consumers and businesses in Arizona produce about 2.5 million tons of surplus food annually, per data from the nonprofit ReFED.

  • This wastes resources and contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.

How it works: The Too Good To Go app allows local restaurants to list surplus food at about one-third of retail price.

  • Users reserve a "surprise bag" that will include that day's unpurchased items and then schedule a time to pick it up.

Zoom in: More than 70 Valley restaurants — including Proof Bread, Tres Leches Café and BoSa Donuts — joined the program during its soft launch and more are coming online each day.

What they're saying: "To be honest, we were always scared to make extra of everything. It's a lot of money wasted," Spce Coffee owner Andy Kemp told Axios.

  • "This gives us the confidence to be able to make a little bit more. We're not throwing it away."

Tell a foodie

3. ⛪ "Yes in God's backyard"

Valley Interfaith Project members discuss housing legislation on Feb. 15. Photo: Jessica Boehm/Axios

Valley faith leaders are pushing a bill to fast-track affordable housing development on property owned by churches, synagogues and other religious entities.

Why it matters: Arizona's shortage of about 270,000 residential units has driven up rent and house prices.

  • The Valley Interfaith Project hopes to offer a solution and valuable asset: vacant land.

How it works: HB2815 would effectively exempt housing development on land owned by religious groups from zoning reviews.

By the numbers: There are at least 6,400 Arizona properties owned by religious institutions, according to the national think tank Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.

What they're saying: "None of our churches have the resources to solve the crisis of affordable housing and homelessness. … But what we do have in many cases is property," Bishop Jennifer Reddall of the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona said at a press conference last week.

What we're watching

4. Chips & salsa: Homeless services may face cuts

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

💸 Central Arizona Shelter Services, Arizona's biggest homeless services program, faces a $1.5 million budget shortfall and may have to cut services. (KJZZ)

🏀 UofA hired the University of Missouri's Desireé Reed-Francois as its new athletic director. (ESPN)

🍽 Chef Doug Robson, of Gallo Blanco, Otro Cafe and Otro Cafecito, will open Tesota, a new restaurant in central Phoenix to replace Southern Rail, which closed in December. (Phoenix New Times)

Republican U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs spoke at a Second Amendment rally at the state Capitol that was co-sponsored by two extremist organizations, including a student group that promotes notorious antisemitic texts. (AZcentral)

5. ✈️ 36 hours in Phoenix

A hiker at the top of the Hole in the Rock trail. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon /AFP via Getty Images)

The Valley got the New York Times travel treatment earlier this month, with a feature on how to best spend 36 hours in Phoenix.

Credit where credit is due: We think they did a pretty solid job, highlighting some of our favorite restaurants (Barrio Café and The Fry Bread House) and can't miss attractions (Desert Botanical Garden, Taliesin West and Hole in the Rock).

But, but, but: We want to know the hidden gems that make Phoenix sing.

You tell us: What is the one thing you always recommend to out-of-state visitors?

  • With your help, we'll pull together our own guide!

Editor's note: Yesterday's top story was corrected to reflect the accurate spelling of Chuck Coughlin's name.

🏀 Jeremy hears good things about UofA's new athletic director and is stoked about the hire.

🐕‍🦺 Jessica's pups have noticed she's feeling better and are demanding long walks to make up for her lazy weekend.

This newsletter was edited by Emma Hurt and copy edited by Jay Bennett.

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