Arizona Republicans are pushing hard for a slew of new laws that would make it harder to vote.
Republicans say the measures will prevent voter fraud in future elections. Measures include eliminating all-mail balloting, eliminating the permanent early voter list, bar the counting of late-arriving ballots and give selected lawmakers control over elections procedures, rather than the governor and secretary of state.
The bills mostly stem from complaints about the conduct of the 2020 elections, including claims of widespread fraud. Judges rejected all of those claims in a flurry of lawsuits.
The 2020 election saw record turnout. By the time the smoke cleared, Republicans had defended their narrow majorities in the state House and Senate and all the congressional incumbents had won re-election. However, the state ended up with two Democratic U.S. senators for the first time in decades and President Joe Biden narrowly won the presidential vote.
Republican Gov. Doug Ducey certified election results, saying that Arizona had one of the best regulated, most widely used mail-in balloting systems in the country, including verification of the signatures on every ballot.
Judges quickly dismissed a dozen Republican lawsuits saying the actions presented no evidence of illegally cast or miscounted votes sufficient to change any of the election outcomes.
The Arizona Legislature continues to pursue another audit of vote results in Maricopa County, although the county has conducted repeated audits of the vote count and the voting machines finding no irregularities. The Legislature fell one vote short of holding the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors in contempt last week, after the supervisors decided not to turn over copies of all the county’s mail-in ballots and access to its voting machines. State law requires the ballots to be locked up unless a judge orders their release.
This week, the Arizona Senate brought back from the dead as a strike-all bill a measure that would drop an estimated 200,000 people from the automatic early voting list. People would be dropped from the list to receive early ballots unless they vote in at least one election every two years. The state has for two decades relied heavily on mail-in balloting and roughly 80% of voters rely on the system. In most Arizona elections, Republicans are more likely to take advantage of the system than Democrats. This year, Democrats edged out Republicans in their reliance on mail-in balloting. No studies have shown a higher incidence of fraud in mail-in balloting than in in-person balloting.
Other bills that would affect voting making their way through the Legislature including a law that would prevent election officials from counting any mail-in ballots postmarked after the Thursday before an election and require counties to mail out ballots 22 days before an election, rather than 27. Another bill would require mail-in ballots to include an affidavit with the voter’s birthdate and proof of identity.
The state Republican Party put out an email alert this week, urging people to contact their state legislative representatives to support a host of new restrictions on voting.
Those bills include:
HB2794: Makes registering a voter the day of the election a class 6 felony.
HB2794: Makes changing any election deadline a class 6 felony.
HB2793: Requires voters to request a mail-in ballot for each election, rather than relying on an automatic “permanent” early voter list.
HB2792: Prohibits mass mailing of ballots to voters who do not request a ballot, effectively eliminating the all-mail balloting used by many towns and school districts and heading off a Democratic proposal.
HB2569: Prohibits private funding of elections activities, like the $400 million donation Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg made to elections offices throughout the country to help hold elections during the pandemic.
HB2039: Increases from 2% to 5% the percentage of ballots or precincts to be used in a hand count to double check the totals on voting machines.