By Dr. Tom Patterson
Members of the Public Policy Committee of Greater Phoenix Leadership recently endorsed an editorial entitled “Disenfranchising Voters is Not Election Reform”.
“As an organization of CEOs at the helm of hundreds of thousands of employees in Arizona“, they felt it their public duty to warn of efforts in the legislature not only “undermining our carefully crafted voting system“ but also “actually attempting to suppress the votes of Arizonans“.
They were especially incensed by the “stringent new identification requirements for those voting by mail“ and the “purge of voters from the Early Voting List”. They grouped these bills with other less important measures, then claimed that all of them had “one thing in common: making it more difficult for Arizonans to vote”.
Voter suppression is a serious accusation. It evokes our racist past and implies serious civil rights violations. It’s a cheap slander when charged carelessly without reasonable proof.
There was one critical element missing in the CEOs’ argument: even a single example of how any of these bills would make voting more difficult. Did they even read the bills? There is no such case to be made.
Let’s look at some facts. Voter ID is required for all in-person voters. Their ballots are handled securely throughout the process and their votes are made without any inappropriate influence.
Yet for bulk mail voting (I.e., voting with a ballot not specifically requested by the voter), all the rules go out the window. No ID is required either for receiving nor submitting a ballot.
It’s no surprise that several election experts and commissions have tagged bulk mail voting as a potential source of significant fraud, even though any fraud that does occur is largely undetectable. With mailed ballots, unlike in-person ballots, it’s impossible to know who filled them out and under what circumstances.
The “stringent new requirement“ for mail-in voters would simply require the mailed ballot to include either a voter registration or Arizona Drivers License number. The measure is far from a comprehensive solution but…voter suppression? Give me a break.
The purported “purge“ of the Permanent Early Voting List (PEVL) is nothing more than routine maintenance of the files of bulk mail voters that inevitably become inaccurate with time. County recorders would be required to send a notice to voters who had not returned a mail ballot in four consecutive elections, most likely persons who have died, moved or simply lost interest.
If the addressee failed to respond within 30 days, they would be removed from the list. However they would still be registered to vote and could request reinstatement on the PEVL at any time.
No harm, no foul. Yet this is “Jim Crow 2.0“ according to Democrats desperate to maintain the fraud-vulnerable status quo. But even if passed, these reforms would still not be as restrictive as many laws already on the books in California, Connecticut, DC and other Democrat strongholds never accused of “voter suppression“.
The phenomenon of woke CEOs pressuring legislatures to push left-wing electoral nonsense is not unique to Arizona. Georgia legislators suffered withering criticism from their business community after passing bills similar to those being considered here.
As in Arizona, Georgia activists like the CEO of Coca-Cola were unable to offer any specific objections, other than generic “voter suppression”. With President Biden‘s encouragement, Georgia was nevertheless penalized with the loss of baseball’s All-Star game. Arizona too is facing the threatened loss of scheduled sports championships.
The GPL CEOs, like athletes and entertainers seeking influence, mostly just reiterate the talking points of the Democrat/media crowd. They claim the that voting issues are non-partisan when in fact even mild reforms are unanimously opposed by Democrats.
The CEOs write that voters are satisfied with the current system, so there is nothing to fix. Again, the reality is different. Non-partisan polls reveal a clear majority of voters harbor at least some distrust of our system and favor specific reforms like Arizona’s.
Election integrity isn’t racist, it’s essential to our right to vote. Your vote has been stolen if it is canceled by fraud or manipulation just as surely as if you were refused a ballot.
Dr. Thomas Patterson, former Chairman of the Goldwater Institute, is a retired emergency physician. He served as an Arizona State senator for 10 years in the 1990s, and as Majority Leader from 93-96. He is the author of Arizona’s original charter schools bill.