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Arizona Democrats Push Election Overhaul: Mail-In, Harvested Ballots, Automatic Voter Registration

January 27, 2022

By Corinne Murdock |

One of the main agenda items for Arizona Democrats in the legislature appears to be major election reform.

Three bills introduced recently would check several of the boxes on the Biden Administration’s election reform checklist: allowing counties to conduct mail-in elections for all elections, lifting the prohibition on ballot harvesting, and establishing automatic voter registration for felons, respectively. None of the bills have appeared before a committee for consideration. 

The bill to expand mail-in elections, SB1149, was introduced by State Senator Sean Bowie (D-Chandler). There were seven cosponsors on the bill: State Senators Rosanna Gabaldon (D-Sahuarita), Sally Ann Gonzales (D-Tucson), Lisa Otondo (D-Yuma), Raquel Terán (D-Phoenix), and Diego Espinoza (D-Tolleson), along with State Representatives Jennifer Jermaine (D-Chandler), and Jennifer Pawlik (D-Chandler).

“A county may conduct a mail ballot election for any election administered by that county, including elections administered for federal and state offices and measures, and elections administered for that county and for a city, town, school district, or special district and for any other jurisdiction’s election administered by that county,” read the bill. “A countywide mail ballot election may be conducted only after a vote of approval by the county board of supervisors for that county and if sixty percent or more of the county’s registered voters are on the active early voting list prescribed by Section 16-544.”

Legalization of ballot harvesting, HB2094, was introduced by State Representative Athena Salman (D-Tempe), and gained six cosponsors: Andrés Cano (D-Tucson), Andrea Dalessandro (D-Sahuarita), Melody Hernandez (D-Tempe), Sarah Liguori (D-Phoenix), along with State Senators Juan Mendez (D-Tempe), and Terán.

The bill would strike all provisions related to intentional collection of voted or unvoted early ballots, and the class six felony that comes with that act.

The automatic voter registration legislation, HB2259, was introduced by State Senator Espinoza (D-) and gained Dalessandro and Solorio (D-) as cosponsors. The bill would automatically restore a felon’s right to vote upon conclusion of their probation or imprisonment. 

Legislature Republicans have responded in kind with their own legislation. In particular, State Representative Jake Hoffman (R-Queen Creek) introduced three pieces of legislation to prohibit same-day voter registration, HB2237; to prohibit unmonitored ballot drop boxes for early-voted ballots, HB2238; and to require voter registration forms to include a statement notifying the registrant that their registration will be canceled if they permanently move to another state after registering to vote in Arizona, HB2243. All three bills passed through the House Government and Elections Committee narrowly on Wednesday, 7-6. Minority Leader Reginald Bolding (D-Laveen), Alma Hernandez (D-Tucson), Lorenzo Sierra (D-Avondale), Christian Solorio (D-Phoenix), Jermaine, and Liguori voted against them. Judy Burges (R-Prescott), Frank Carroll (R-Sun City West), John Fillmore (R-Apache Junction), Teresa Martinez (R-Oro Valley), Kevin Payne (R-Peoria), and John Kavanagh (R-Fountain Hills) joined Hoffman in voting for his bills. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

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