The following column is the opinion and analysis of the writer:
In the midst of a global pandemic last year, more Arizona citizens than ever before decided to register to vote: 4,735,320 to be exact, up by 692,686 from 2016. 3,420,465 of these registered Arizona voters cast their ballots in the 2020 general election, a record turnout at 79.9%.
You would think that every member of our state Legislature would be proud of this progress to expand democracy in Arizona. Instead, over 40 bills have been introduced by our local elected representatives that would chip away at voting rights in our state, making registering to vote, casting a ballot, and passing ballot propositions more burdensome than they already are. It is shocking and appalling.
Some of the worst bills, like getting rid of our Permanent Early Voter List entirely, seem to be dead. But here are the ones we are currently most concerned about:
House Bill 2373 would force any person or group that registers voters to get a tracking ID number in each county. For example, the League of Women Voters and other organizations involved in voter registration activities would be required to have unique IDs to register voters. For what purpose exactly? The bill doesn’t say.
Senate Bill 1003 would allow voters to cure unsigned early ballots only until 7 p.m. on Election Day, which would treat unsigned ballots differently from others that have longer, post-election cure times.
SB-1485 was known as SB-1069 until last week, when it was voted down. It’s back now as a striker bill, where legislators can replace all the language in a bill with new wording. It would allow county recorders to remove voters from the Permanent Early Voter List (PEVL) who haven’t voted with an early ballot in both the primary and general election for two consecutive statewide elections.
A record number of voters who did not vote in 2016 or 2018 voted in 2020. This bill particularly targets independents, who often don’t vote in primaries, and could remove over 200,000 voters from the PEVL, making it not permanent.
SB 1106 would make it a felony to move to Arizona solely for the purpose of registering to vote and not intending to remain in the state. How exactly would the state investigate and prove a person’s intent to move?
SB 1358 prohibits County recorders from registering voters anywhere that is not government property. This is a blatant effort to restrict and limit the role of county recorders in educating the public and registering voters.
It’s no secret that the last election in Arizona had seismic consequences — not just in this state, but across the country. Many of us are exhausted with politics after enduring one of the most bitter elections in history. Believe us, we’d rather be relaxing right now.
Instead, we’re seeing red. And we’re not backing down from this fight.
The League of Women Voters has been a nonpartisan organization for 101 years. We never support or oppose parties or candidates, but we take positions on issues. And voting rights is the cornerstone of our organization. We’re asking Arizona voters to join us in calling our respective representatives and senators in the state Legislature to ask them to oppose these bills. If they tell you that they support them, ask why they’re trying to destroy democracy and free elections in Arizona.
Kate Stewart is the president-elect of the League of Women Voters of Greater Tucson.