The attack on Voting Rights has slowed a bit as the Legislature is winding down, but this is still a time for vigilance.
AZ Supreme Court Filing
In Arizona Republican Party v. Hobbs the petitioners requested that the Court invalidate all early in-person and mail-in voting, which the state has had in some form for more than a century. This change would have made Arizona stand alone in the nation as the only state to require all voting to occur in person on Election Day. LWVAZ among others, filed briefs opposing this case. In a success for voters, the Arizona Supreme court declined to take up this lawsuit. A suit could still be filed in a lower court.
HB2492 – A newly enacted law that is confusing, potentially unconstitutional and increases barriers to voting.
HB2492 was proposed by Jake Hoffmann (R - Queen Creek) on Jan 24, enacted by the Arizona Legislature and signed into law by Governor Ducey on Mar 30, 2022. What does this mean for Voter Registration and Voting in Arizona? A lot of confusion about provisions of the law, legal challenges to constitutionality and more barriers to voting.
Currently, to register to vote in Arizona you must be a US citizen. Many voters prove this via an Arizona Driver’s or Non-operating license (which since 1996 has included updated citizenship requirements), a Tribal ID card, or Naturalization Papers. Copies of other proofs such as a birth certificate or a passport can be provided. While this may sound easy, many circumstances might stand in the way of doing this - a young voter without a driver’s license yet, an older voter who has an expired license, a person who uses public transport and never learned to drive, a person who has lost their birth certificate, a person who has just moved and can’t find their proof, a person with proof but no access to copy equipment. Most often, a potential voter will not be carrying around copies of needed documents. As a result of a 2013 US Supreme Court decision, these voters can still exercise their basic right to vote in Federal Elections (President and Congress) by attesting “yes” they are a citizen and signing the registration form. They are then given a “Federal Only” ballot at the time of elections.
HB2492 is an attempt to further bar or restrict “Federal Only” ballots. County recorders must immediately reject any form without proof of citizenship, unless it is a Federal voter registration form prepared by the US Elections Assistance Commission (USEAC). For USEAC forms the Recorder must use “available resources to verify the citizenship status”. If verified, the voter is properly registered. If the recorder is unable to find evidence of citizenship, the voter is not eligible to vote by mail or vote in a Presidential election. If determined to be a “non-citizen” the voter must be referred to the County Attorney and AG for investigation. Voting by non-citizens is extremely rare. Unnecessary checks with unvalidated databases, and referrals to prosecution are intimidating voters from exercising a basic right.
The registration process also becomes more difficult for all. A voter must now also provide proof of residence and list place of birth when registering to vote. The Arizona Association of counties has testified that proof of residence is required when voting so this is redundant. Requiring place of birth is not relevant to voting and cannot be easily verified. Requiring a voter to state their place of birth is another intimidation in a nation grown increasingly hostile to foreign born citizens.
This law may also result in the purging of many older, longtime Arizona residents from election roles. In 2004 a ballot initiative passed requiring proof of citizenship to vote. Legislation “grandfathered in” voters who registered prior to 2005, allowing them to remain on the election roles. Many legal experts conclude this law will supersede prior legislation. The Arizona Association of counties has testified counties will need to pore over election roles and may be required to purge nearly 200,000 voters who have not made a change to their registration since 2004.
Although the Legislature is attempting to delay this bill, it may take effect after the primary and shortly before the November general election, potentially generating even more confusion and barring voters who cannot complete extra documentation in time.
This bill does not make Democracy work better. It sows confusion, places unnecessary barriers to voting, and may lead to unjustified voter purges. The League of Women’s voters is exploring options to join other groups in litigation.
LWV is dedicated to helping our volunteers help voters. If this law proceeds as planned, we will be providing additional guidance and training to our Registration Volunteers.
And now a chance for positive action…
Arizonans for Free and Fair Elections Initiative
LWVAZ continues to fight for voters. Most recently we have signed on as a partner in efforts to secure passage of the Arizonans for Free and Fair Elections Initiative. This initiative is an effort to protect many of the voting rights now under attack. The initiative would protect Vote-by-Mail and restore the Permanent Early Voting List (PEVL), simplify voter registration, help get money out of politics and safeguard our right to pass our own laws.
To place this initiative on the November Ballot 237,645 signatures must be collected by July 7. To learn more, find out where to sign a petition or volunteer to help collect signatures visit AZFE.org. We also have a number of petitions available for volunteers in LWVNAZ to circulate. Contact us at LWVNAZ@gmail.com for information.
To sign up for state advocacy alerts contact firstname.lastname@example.org