By B. Hamilton
An exasperated Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita was joined by Sen. JD Mesnard on Monday at a press conference held in anticipation of votes in the Arizona House on their election integrity legislation. Mesnard and Ugenti-Rita fielded questions and pushed back hard against suggestions that reforms amount to voter suppression.
“Don’t let the screen door hit ya, where the good Lord split ya,” said Ugenti-Rita in response to a reporter’s question as to whether the reforms would prompt people to leave Arizona.
Contrary to the reporter’s question, the reforms sought by Mesnard and Ugenti-Rita would send few fleeing from the state as the bills enjoy widespread support according to recent polling.
Mesnard’s bill, SB1713, would add requirements to the early balloting process designed to help ensure the voter is the person using the ballot.
“The premise behind the bill is simple. We wanted to create continuity and standardization across the various methods of voting. If it was good enough for those voting in person, it should be good enough for those voting by mail,” said Sen. Mesnard, who sponsored SB1713. “Immediately the bill was condemned by radical progressive groups and those willing to perpetuate their outrageous narrative. Yet, no one could explain to me why having the same or similar process in both cases was bad public policy. It seemed no one was interested in debating the bill for what it actually did.”
SB1713 would simply require voters that vote by mail to include additional identification when voting.
Ugenti-Rita’s bill, SB1485, would drop a voter from the Early Voting List only after they received a ballot by mail and refused to vote it on four consecutive occasions (elections).
“Election integrity is non-negotiable,” she said. “We’re not going to back down from something that’s reasonable, that is commonsense, and protects the integrity of our elections.”
While the issue of election integrity has been a contentious one at the state legislature this session, a recent poll shows that a majority of Arizona voters support election integrity reforms with big majorities in favor of voter ID laws.
“The vast majority of Americans support voter ID laws and election integrity reforms,” said Arizona Free Enterprise Club President Scot Mussi. “The Club commends Senators Mesnard and Ugenti-Rita for sponsoring bills that help make Arizona’s election system more accessible and fraud-proof. And we call on the House to pass both SB1713 and SB1485.”
Both bills come after the turbulent 2020 election, where many voters and lawmakers were left questioning the election process.