TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Some people call them voter suppression bills, while others defend them as protecting election integrity.
There are 23 bills left at the Arizona state legislature winding their way to the system, and some may end up on Governor Doug Ducey’s desk to be signed into law or possibly vetoed. They are sponsored by Republican lawmakers.
Several of the bills put more restrictions on early voting and vote by mail, which is used by 80% of Arizona voters. It has grown more popular since it started in 1991.
It picked up steam when the county’s recorders established the permanent early voting list. That is when voters sign up for the list to receive a ballot in the mail for each election automatically. It’s called PEVL for short.
Under SB 1485 any voter who misses two federal elections in succession will be purged from the list. It also changes the name from PEVL to EVL since a person’s name is no longer permanently on the list.
Another is SB 1713, which would require a voter to write a voter verification number or driver’s license number on the outside of a mail-in envelope. It’s another step voters must take and if they make a mistake, the vote doesn’t count. Right now, the voter is identified by a signature match.
Arizona is on board with several other Republican-led states which are trying to roll back some voter rights following the 2020 election.
“What’s new is the kind of fanatical push past the 2020 election to roll back some of the voter programs, voter-friendly programs, that led to a record-high turnout,” said Ryan Snow of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, the oldest and largest non-partisan non-profit voting rights organization in the country.
There are somewhere between 250 and 300 separate bills, which have been introduced in states across the country.
The GOP doesn’t believe it’s voter suppression- instead, bills to ensure voter integrity.
“We have a real challenge that we’re facing,” said Shelly Kais, the chair of the Pima County Republican Party. “I think our legislatures in 40 states are looking at these laws to identify ways to make sure our elections are free and fair.”
80% of Arizona voters cast ballots by mail, which are popular among both parties.
“It’s very, very popular and it’s been very, very effective,” Snow said. “Arizona is one of the leaders in making vote by mail safe and accessible and secure.”
And he added, “it’s tragic it’s being targeted this way.”