Election Integrity Bill Remains Stalled in Senate

By Terri Jo Neff

What promised to be Republicans’ most impactful state election integrity bill of the legislative session did not get voted on Monday, despite being on the calendar for a final reading in the State Senate.

Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita’s SB1485 has the potential to drop more than 207,000 inactive voter names from the Permanent Early Voter List (PEVL). Removal would not happen if a voter responds to a written notice about the impending change, which in no way alters or impacts a voter’s registration status.

Arizona’s 15 county recorders would collectively save tens of thousands of dollars each election through reduced printing and postage costs. But the biggest selling point for SB1485 is its election integrity benefit of ensuring 207,000 early ballots are not put into the U.S. mail system if voters do not intend to use them.

Getting Ugenti-Rita’s bill to Gov. Doug Ducey had been considered a sure thing due to Senate Republicans holding a 16 to 14 majority. That certainty ended last month when Sen. Kelly Townsend announced she will not vote for any election-related legislation until the Senate’s audit of Maricopa County’s 2020 General Election is complete.

Townsend has expressed displeasure with Ugenti-Rita’s lack of support for getting many of Townsend’s 18 election bills out of committee this session. As a result, Ugenti-Rita was forced into the embarrassing position of voting against her own bill to preserve any chance of revoting on SB1485 during a future Senate floor session.

That revote was set for Monday, but Senate President Karen Fann held the bill without further comment. The Senate is tentatively scheduled for daily floor sessions through Thursday but as of press time the PEVL legislation has not been added to any of those calendars.