Upset Over 2018 Defeat, Republicans Are Making It Harder For Arizonans To Vote

Democrats had a very successful 2018 midterm election in Arizona. We elected the first woman and bisexual to represent the state in the United States Senate, narrowed the GOP’s hold on the state legislature, and flipped two statewide seats from red to blue. Now, upset over their defeat, Republicans in Arizona have turned to the same strategy their party uses across the country — imposing laws to restrict voters from accessing the ballot box.


Republican lawmakers in Arizona have proposed a number of laws that could block Arizonans from the polls:


SB 1090 would make early voting harder by requiring Arizonans who cast emergency ballots to sign affidavits before being able to vote.


Arizona Capitol Times: “The main objection from Democrats came over sworn affidavits that voters would have to sign declaring a voter is experiencing an emergency that requires them to vote in such a fashion… Democrats said that, despite the language in the bill stating those affidavits aren’t a public record, they’d be subject to subpoenas, perhaps from lawyers trying to challenge vote counts in tightly-contested elections. That concern echoed testimony from the Secretary of State’s Office, which questioned the purpose of keeping such a record in the first place, if not to challenge votes.”


SB 1188 would unnecessarily purge voters from the Permanent Early Voting List, making it harder for an estimated 200,000 Arizonans to vote.


Arizona Mirror: “Numerous people testified against the bill. Officials from the Secretary of State’s Office, Maricopa County Recorder’s Office and the Arizona Association of Counties opposed the bill, saying they saw no need for it and that pre-existing laws are adequate for removing people from the PEVL… Others said SB 1188 would add a new barrier to voting. If someone expects to receive a ballot in the mail and doesn’t, it could discourage them from voting, several critics said.”


Arizona Republic: “The Arizona Secretary of State’s Office estimates that about 200,000 voters would be removed from the list if the law had been in effect for the 2016 and 2018 elections.”


HB 2616 would place restrictions on the same voter registration strategies that helped register record numbers of young voters in 2018.


Arizona Capitol Times: “The state House voted Monday to create some new crimes for certain voter-registration activities in a move several lawmakers suggested will suppress voting, particularly by the young and minorities. HB 2616 would make it a misdemeanor to pay someone based on the number of people they sign up to vote. Violators would be subject to six months in jail and a $2,500 fine..”


SB 1046 would outlaw Arizonans who vote by mail from dropping off their ballots at polling locations on Election Day, hindering them from having adequate time to make educated decisions on candidates and issues.


Cronkite News: “The Arizona Senate is considering a measure that would prohibit early voters from dropping off their mail-in ballots on Election Day, a move advocates say would simplify elections and opponents say would hamper voter rights… ‘This bill is still one of the worst voting rights bills I’ve seen in my time following the Legislature,’ said Joel Edman, executive director of the Arizona Advocacy Network, which works to expand access to the ballot.”


Meanwhile, Democrats are fighting to ensure that all eligible Arizonans have the right to vote.


Phoenix New Times: “The proposed Democratic resolution on a ‘voters bill of rights’ says that all voters in Arizona have the right to vote without facing unnecessary barriers, no matter where they live or what language they speak. Voters also have the right to propose and enact laws, vote by mail, and know that their elected officials are working for voters and not donors or lobbyists, the resolution says… Additionally, Democratic Representative Athena Salman of Tempe announced at the new conference that she will file a bill on Monday seeking to enshrine the right to vote in Arizona’s constitution ‘so that the voters of Arizona understand that the highest governing document in Arizona protects their right to vote.’”