Two bills dealing with elections in Arizona are currently being discussed by the state Legislature and are receiving a lot of opposition, especially from the Latino community. Share it: Tweet
Senate Bill 1003 would limit who can drop a person’s ballot off at the polls by requiring a signed statement from both the voter and the person assisting them. Senate Bill 1261 would remove people from the list of eligible early voters who have not voted early in any of the last four consecutive statewide elections.
The two bills were passed by the Senate at the end of February and await action in the House.
The goal expressed by the author of the bills, Republican Senator Michele Reagan, is to protect the integrity of statewide elections. She is concerned that there are not enough safeguards in the early ballot system since the common practice for advocacy groups, campaigns, and political parties to collect these ballots and submit them en masse presents a serious risk to the electoral process.
Thus, SB 1003 would prevent members of a political committee, party, or organization from collecting ballots and any violations of the return procedure would be guilty of a Class 6 felony.
Advocates of SB 1261 say the bill is justified because of the high number of provisional ballots received in the 2012 elections from people on early voting lists. These provisional ballots not only delayed the results by more than a week, but represented an extra cost for local election officials.
However, organizations dedicated to increasing voter participation, especially in Latino communities, believe this is another attempt by the Republican-governed Legislature to undermine the votes of minorities who tend to vote Democratic.
The Latino community, which currently makes up nearly twenty percent of the state electorate, is expected to grow to the point that Arizona could become a blue state by 2025, according to some reports.
The proposed changes to the electoral process would adversely affect efforts made by Latino and other minority organizations to increase voter turnout among low propensity voters. Collecting ballots from people has become a major tool for these groups to assist voters who rely on the help and Latino voters are three times more likely to vote early than on Election Day.
With the 2004 Arizona ID law currently being reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court, many people are concerned about the additional impact SB 1003 and SB 1261 could have on the minority vote, especially among Latino voters.