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.
A new state law resolves one of the most controversial aspects of the pandemic – who gets to decide whether a child must wear a mask or face covering.
On Monday, Gov. Doug Ducey signed House Bill 2616 which puts the mask or no mask decision squarely in the hands of parents instead of school officials or any other bureaucrat.
“Parents should make decisions for their children, not the government,” said Rep. Joseph Chaplik, who sponsored HB2616 to require the express consent of the parent or guardian of anyone under age 18 before a government official can require a child to wear a mask.
“Arizona law already requires parents to be consulted before instituting medical requirements for children,” noted Chaplik (R-LD23). “This commonsense bill extends the law to include masks, joining other freedom states in protecting the right of parents to make decisions for their child.”
The prohibition on mask mandates of children applies to the State of Arizona, its political subdivisions, any governmental entity, school districts, and charter schools. The entire Republican caucus of the House and the Senate voted in support of HB2616, which was sent to the governor’s desk last week.
The Senate Government Committee is scheduled on Monday to consider HB2616, a bill requiring governments to receive parental consent in order to require a minor to wear a mask. That applies to political subdivisions and entities like public and charter school districts as well.
The masking choice bill passed the House last month along party lines, 31-28.
House Democrats insisted that the bill worked against science. State Representative Marcelino Quiñonez (D-Phoenix) cast Republicans as those inviting discrimination by not normalizing mask-wearing.
“There seems to be a hesitancy to accept the science and go with the science. Instead of doing that, we continue to create barriers to ensure that people feel othered by wearing a mask, instead of following the science,” said Quiñonez. “The legislation to create another barrier, another bureaucracy, is overdue. And so with that, I encourage my colleagues to follow the science and vote ‘no.’”
On Wednesday, the House Government and Elections Committee narrowly approved a bill from State Representative Joseph Chaplik (R-Scottsdale) prohibiting government entities or schools from requiring minors to wear a mask without the express parental consent. All Democrats voted against HB2616, ensuring Republicans edged out a narrow 7-6 victory.
“I believe parents should make decisions for their children, not the government,” asserted Chaplik. “The states of Florida and Virginia, with bipartisan support, have passed this similar policy. I will continue to stand for freedom in Arizona for our constituents.”
HB2616 would’ve had greater reach than government and K-12 education: the original bill also prohibited mask mandates in private businesses for both adults and for minors, unless the business had express parental consent for the child to wear one. An approved amendment to HB2616 from State Representative John Kavanagh (R-Fountain Hills) struck those additional provisions.
During the committee hearing, Chaplik explained that obtaining consent was up to the schools. When State Representative Sarah Liguori (D-Phoenix) expressed confusion as to whether schools would be required to obtain written consent for a child that showed up to school wearing a mask, Chaplik clarified that the child arriving to school in a mask was sufficient parental consent.
Liguori lambasted her colleagues for “buying into a political narrative.” She claimed that school districts with mask mandates have opt-out options for parents. That is incorrect. Tucson Unified School District (TUSD), for one, doesn’t mention the option to not wear a mask on school property.
“I hate to get caught up in the politics of the masks, which I believe was intentionally designed as an illusion but its even more of a fantasy to think we as legislators know more than the experts who have trained their entire lives in these fields and have studied the science and data on this day in and day out for the past two years,” said Liguori.
State Representative Jake Hoffman (R-Queen Creek) challenged Liguori’s assertion that the experts were infallible and that the masks were a political issue. Hoffman reminded the committee of the CDC’s track record of changing their guidelines and goalposts constantly.
“In reality, the science is on the side that kids should not be forced to wear masks,” said Hoffman. “This is not a political argument, it’s an actual medical science argument. There’s countless medical studies to support this, and there are countless health professionals at the highest levels — especially medical doctors, not just public health professionals because there’s a very big difference between an actual medical doctor and a public health professional — they support this.”
On Tuesday, the American Federation for Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten pushed back in an interview with MSNBC against the beginning trend to drop mask mandates in schools. Weingarten admitted that masks are not only intolerable but an impediment to learning.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky has also pushed back, arguing in an interview with Reuters this week that “now is not the moment” to drop mask mandates.