During a State Senate briefing on Tuesday, True the Vote — the election integrity nonprofit behind the research for election fraud documentary “2000 Mules” — recommended Arizona clean up its voter rolls. Just several days before, Governor Doug Ducey vetoed a bill purging non-citizens and non-Arizonans from voter rolls.
The election integrity researchers also proposed an end to the mass mailing of ballots and drop boxes, as well as an increase in penalties for voter fraud. If ending the use of all drop boxes wasn’t feasible, the researchers proposed real-time video surveillance.
The bill vetoed by Ducey, HB2617, received support from House and Senate Republicans. It would’ve required the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) to submit information to the secretary of state every month regarding driver’s license or non-operating licenses issued in other states. Within 10 days, the secretary of state would then submit that information to the relevant county recorders to purge their voter rolls.
HB2617 would’ve also required the county recorder to compare their voter registration database to the Social Security Administration database on a monthly basis. Additionally, the secretary of state would’ve been required to report to the state legislature on a quarterly basis the death counts and voter registration cancellation notices issued to county recorders. Jury commissioners and managers would’ve been required to inform the secretary of state and their county recorder about individuals who indicated they weren’t U.S. citizens or living within the county.
The House and Senate may override Ducey’s veto with a two-thirds vote.
Ducey’s spokesman, C.J. Karamargin, said that the bill sponsor, State Representative Joseph Chaplik (R-Scottsdale), “knows” why Ducey vetoed the bill. Karamargin didn’t elaborate further.
In an explanatory letter, Ducey shared a concern that the legislation lacked due process for voters whose eligibility may be challenged, and that bad actors would capitalize on that aspect of the bill.
He criticized the bill’s implementation method as “vague” and lacking guidance for county recorders to execute properly. Ducey further criticized the residency determination provisions within the bill as subjective and lacking protections against false claims of non-residency.
Ducey didn’t object to the bill in its entirety. He commended the provisions directing ADOT, the secretary of state, and county recorders to communicate on proof of out-of-state licenses, new addresses, and non-citizenship.
Arizona Free Enterprise Club Vice President Aimee Yentes disagreed with Ducey’s concerns that the bill lacked due process for voters and that it would empower bad actors. However, Yentes expressed hope that they could work with Chaplik to bring a modified version of the bill more palatable to Ducey.
“This is a multi-pronged endeavor. You don’t fix all the numerous issues we have with election processes overnight or in just one session,” said Yentes.
In his first veto of the 2022 legislative session, Gov. Doug Ducey unexpectedly shot down an election integrity bill introduced by Rep. Joseph Chaplik (R-Scottsdale) with overwhelming support of the House Republican caucus.
House Bill 2617 dealt with the removal of voters from each county’s voter rolls, focused on non-U.S. citizens and non-Arizona residents. But Ducey announced his veto in a letter to Senate President Karen Fann and House Speaker Rusty Bowers. on Friday.
“Our lawfully registered voters deserve to know that their right to vote will not be disturbed without sufficient due process,” Ducey wrote. “This provision leaves our election system vulnerable to bad actors who could seek to falsely allege a voter is not a qualified elector.”
Chaplik’s HB2617 mandated county recorders to remove voters from their rolls based on a “reason to believe” the voter is not a U.S. citizen or a resident of the county. Such removal could not occur until the end of a detailed process which ensured the voter in question had 90 days to present satisfactory evidence that the person is in fact qualified to vote in their registered county.
The bill also included new reporting requirements for all jury commissioners and the Arizona Department of Transportation to help identify people who may no longer be eligible to vote in a specific county or were never eligible to vote in Arizona.
However, Ducey’s veto letter pointed to several concerns with the legislation, including the level of proof threshold.
“The subjectivity of this provision, as well as a lack of guardrails against false claims, included in H.B. 2617 leaves voter registration susceptible to being canceled based on fiction rather than fact,” Ducey wrote to Fann and Bowers.
But Ducey’s criticisms did not sit well with supporters who saw Chaplik’s bill as a much needed and long overdue opportunity to establish confidence in the legitimacy of Arizona’s voter rolls.
AZGOP chair Kelli Ward called Ducey’s move “unAmerican” while Rep. Jacqueline Parker (R-Mesa) tweeted that the governor “apparently wants dead people to be able to vote again.”
Sam Stone, former Phoenix city staffer and current city council candidate, was “hugely disappointed” in Ducey’s veto and questioned the governor’s motives.
“Cleaning up our voter rolls is essential to secure elections,” Stone tweeted. “There is not one legitimate reason to leave people who have died or moved on our voter rolls, especially with automatic vote-by-mail.
Stone further suggested “the only reason to leave people who have died or moved on our voter rolls” is to commit voter fraud.
Ducey’s veto brought forth a more detailed rebuke from the Arizona Free Enterprise Club (AFEC).
“Contrary to what is stated in the veto letter, #HB2617 provides ample safeguards to ensure eligible voters do not have their registrations improperly cancelled,” AFEC tweeted after the veto was announced. “In fact, the bill stipulates that counties must confirm that the voter is ineligible, then requires the county to send a notice to the voter.”
It is only after the registered voter fails to respond to the notice within 90 days that the registration would be cancelled, AFEC pointed out.
“A broad coalition of local and national election integrity leaders signed onto a letter urging Governor Ducey to sign HB2617, and explained in great detail the need for the enhanced voter roll maintenance requirements and the safeguards contained in the measure,” AFEC further tweeted.
The letter referred to by in the tweet was signed by AFEC President Scot Mussi along with representatives of Heritage Action for America, America First Policy Institute, Election Transparency Initiative, Honest Elections Project Action, FreedomWorks, Amax ACTION, and the Foundation for Government Accountability.
Ducey noted he would consider signing a new voter roll bill with revised language if Chaplik and the rest of the Legislature wants to consider his feedback.
FreedomWorks activist Merissa Hamilton is among those hopeful Chaplik will consider the governor’s criticisms and reintroduce a new version of HB2617 this session. She said a path to clean voter rolls is “needed to secure our Arizona elections.”
On Monday, the Arizona Senate passed HB2617 to require county recorders to cancel voter registrations for individuals who are proven to not be qualified electors, such as those who aren’t U.S. citizens and those who have a driver’s license or other non-operating license in another state. The bill passed along party lines, 16-13. Since HB2617 was amended in the Senate, it will be reviewed by the House before it’s passed on to Governor Doug Ducey.
In further detail, HB2617 will require the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) every month to submit information regarding who’s been issued a driver’s license or non-operating license in another state to the secretary of state. Then within 10 days, the secretary of state will also be required to furnish county recorders with a list of registered voters for their county that were issued a driver’s license or a non-operating ID license in another state.
Additionally, HB2617 requires the county recorder to compare their voter registration database to the Social Security Administration database on a monthly basis. In the event an individual doesn’t provide satisfactory proof of citizenship, county recorders must compare their file to the Electronic Verification of Vital Events System.
Furthermore, the secretary of state will be required to report the number of deaths and number of voter registration cancellation notices issued to county recorders to the state legislature on a quarterly basis. Jury commissioners and managers must also forward information about individuals who indicate they’re not a U.S. citizen or reside outside of the county to the secretary of state and county recorder.
Prior to canceling the voter registration of the person in question, county recorders must submit notice to the individual and give them 90 days to provide evidence that they’re qualified to vote in Arizona. If the person doesn’t respond with satisfactory evidence within 90 days, each individual case may be referred to the county attorney or attorney general for further investigation.
Progress Arizona, a progressive activist nonprofit, argued that the legislation would “harm vulnerable communities,” calling it an “unnecessary barrier to vote.”
House Republicans insisted that the legislation, sponsored by State Representative Joseph Chaplik (R-Scottsdale) would ensure that those who didn’t belong on the voter rolls would be purged.