Arizona lawmakers disagree on bill which allows inmates to vote

Published: Mar. 27, 2023 at 10:03 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) -The Arizona Senate Elections Committee, by a partisan vote, Republicans five yes and Democrats three no, approved a due pass recommendation for HB2325, which will change the rules for incarcerated voters.

According to the sponsor, District 3′s Republican legislator Alexander Kolodin, the bill will tighten the rules on what needs to be done before and during the voting process.

But Democrats on the panel said it will not pass constitutional muster, nor will it win in the courts.

“This legislation still has carve outs for folks to be denied the right to vote,” said Democratic Senator Anna Hernandez.

Arizona puts a lot of people in jail. According to the Prison Policy Institute, about 117,000 Arizonans end up in jail every year. Most are charged with petty crimes and misdemeanors, but many are held because they can’t make bail. They are held while awaiting trial.

Under Arizona law, those people are allowed to vote and anyone requesting a ballot is required to receive one.

Now comes HB2325, a Republican-sponsored bill that would tighten the rules for the incarcerated to vote. A bill that the democrats say is unconstitutional and would actually deprive many inmates of the right to vote because of its wording, among other things.

‘’There will be no pretrial voting if it is not done in this manner,” said State Senator Priya Sandareshan, a Democrat from Tucson. “That it would remove the ability to for someone to vote if they are in detention for a misdemeanor.”

The bill would also require the requiring the inmate to show identification before receiving a ballot.

Because inmates are often booked under aliases or other names, and many don’t carry ID at all, tracking down the ID could be difficult and could be left to the sheriffs.

Opposition to this bill from elections directors, recorders and many sheriffs.

The bill’s sponsor, Representative Alexander Kolodin, says the bill is a vast improvement over the system being used not.

“We aren’t insuring that people who have not been adjudicated or found guilty of committing crimes are able to vote,” he said. “And this piece of legislation is an effort to improve that problem.”