And so I’ve decided to heed my own advice and join a coalition that has banded together to overturn legislation that will negatively impact the vast majority of voters in Arizona.
HB2305, an elections overhaul bill passed on a party-line vote during the waning hours of the last legislative session will drastically change elections in Arizona. Some of the more damning parts of this bill include:
- Criminalizing volunteers who collect early ballots – ballots that have already been completed, signed and sealed – to drop them off at the polls.
- Increasing the number of signatures required for Libertarians by 4000%, while decreasing the number required for Republicans.
- Changing the Permanent Early Voting List to a “sort of permanent” list by requiring voters to reconfirm their intent to be on a permanent list if they haven’t voted in the last two election cycles.
- Requiring “strict compliance” instead of the current “substantial compliance” on citizen initiatives and recall campaign laws, making a successful recall or initiative almost impossible.
Why, you may ask, did incumbent Republicans feel the need to make the most sweeping changes to our election laws in decades WITHOUT first receiving voter approval? The answer is simple: our demographics are changing, and they do not favor the brand of politics espoused by extremist politicians. Instead of appealing to voters, these incumbents would rather forgo a “big tent” and change the laws to benefit their pup tent.
Here’s the how and why:
Criminalizing those who collect ballots is a direct result of a growing Latino movement that has learned how to successfully get out the vote. There was nothing criminal about what volunteers did in the last election — ensuring first-time voters, those with mobility issues and those who often forget to turn in their ballots had their votes counted. Since this isn’t criminal behavior, incumbent Republicans moved to change the law to make it criminal, which just so happens to benefit them as well.
Increasing the number of signatures required for third party candidates and Democrats was a direct result of Republicans losing competitive Congressional districts in the last election. Republicans erroneously believe Libertarians will automatically vote for a Republican if no Libertarian is on the ballot. But as Robert Robb points out in the Arizona Republic, it’s unlikely Libertarians are the spoilers Republicans think they are.
Changing the PEVL to a not-so-permanent early voting list was pitched as a way to help ease the strain on overburdened elections officials who spent an inordinate amount of time verifying early ballots turned in at the polls. While I can sympathize with county recorders on this part of the bill, I have to wonder if there isn’t a better way to fix this issue without kicking people off the PEVL. I also wonder if county recorders still want this part of the bill, knowing that it’s now tied to several voter suppression measures.
Changing initiative and recall petitions to strict compliance is an easy way to ensure initiatives and recalls never happen. Incumbent Republicans would like nothing better than to rid our state constitution of this because it is incumbent Republicans who have been on the losing end of a recall (Russell Pearce) and many initiatives, including medical marijuana.
Strict compliance, something the courts do not currently use, will invalidate thousands of valid signatures in any petition challenge. This is great news for elections lawyers, and bad news for citizen groups or anyone wanting to put a check on Arizona’s elected officials.
All in all this is one big win for incumbent Republicans and one huge loss for the rest of Arizona’s electorate.
I don’t think this elections overhaul should become law without the say of those affected by it… the voters. This is why I agreed to chair the Protect Your Right to Vote Arizona Coalition with the goal of letting voters decide the fate of HB2305.
Based upon the overwhelming response I’ve received from my readers over the last week, I think many Arizonans are ready to toss out this law. If you would like to help with the referendum by volunteering your time, signing the petition or donating to the cause, please contact us by email at ProtectYourRightToVote@gmail.com or by calling 480-382-1102.
Don’t let incumbents stack the deck in their favor. Sign the petition, and protect your right to vote.