By Terri Jo Neff |
Two election integrity bills sponsored by Sen. JD Mesnard were signed into law by Gov. Doug Ducey this week in an effort to ensure consistency among the state’s 15 counties and more quickly remove ineligible voters from the rolls.
Senate Bill 1260 amends Arizona’s election law to require the state’s 15 county recorders to cancel someone’s voter registration upon confirmation that the person has registered to vote in another county. This will include removing the voter from the Active Early Voting used to mail ballots to voters signed up to received them in advance of election day.
SB1260 also makes it a Class 6 felony for any person to “knowingly” assist someone to vote in Arizona if the voter is registered in another state. This allows criminal charges to be filed is if someone forwards an Arizona early ballot to a voter at an address other than what is listed on the early ballot packet.
The legislation takes effect 90 days after the Legislature adjourns for the session, so the provisions could be in place before the 2022 General Election.
Meanwhile, Senate Bill 1362 adds a new statute describing the process for on-site tabulation of early ballots brought by voters to a polling place on Election Day. Currently, those in-person “drop offs” might not be tabulated until the next day, a practice each county recorder or election director will now have the authority to set.
SB1362 also tweaks the criteria for when a county’s board of supervisors may reduce the number of polling places during an election. And it better defines the methods which election officials can use to reduce voter wait times at in-person polling places.
It too takes effect 90 days after the Legislature adjourns for the session.
According to Mesnard (R-Chandler), the bills will help improve voter confidence in our elections.
“Democratic systems only work if our elections are secure and their integrity unmatched,” he said after the signing. “That means ensuring that each person has one vote and that their vote is properly counted.”
Cochise County Recorder David Stevens is one of the election officials across Arizona who closely followed Mesnard’s bills. He told Arizona Daily Independent his county already has a procedure for when a voter reportedly moves away, but there is a delay in dropping the voter until a notice to be mailed and a response received.
Under SB1260, the process will be sped up by not having to wait to hear back from the voter. This allows county recorders to cancel the voter’s registration upon official confirmation of new registration in another county.
As to the section of SB1260 making it a crime to forward someone’s early ballot to another address, Stevens noted he is waiting to hear what the consequences will be, and whether the statute applies to U.S. Postal Service personnel involved in the forwarding process.
Stevens explained that some counties already offer election day tabulation of early ballots as described in SB1362. On-site tabulation provides a “a more complete election total” which Stevens calls “a good thing.”
He added that while the provisions of SB1362 will entail more work, it will be minimal.
“In the long run, any attempt to have clean rolls is worth the work,” Stevens said.