Last week, the Biden Administration officially filed a lawsuit against Arizona over HB2492, which bolsters safeguards to our voter registration process to require proof of citizenship ensuring only U.S. citizens are voting in our elections.
To many, it sounds absurd. Not HB2492, but the revelation that in Arizona, and in every state in the country, people are registering to vote and voting without ever providing proof of citizenship.
Several more Arizona voters have come forward to AZ Free News to report they’ve been receiving ballots for voters that should’ve been removed from the rolls years ago – in at least one case, several decades. This report is not to say that this is a widespread issue, but to reflect the fact that AZ Free News has received more reports of this issue from concerned voters.
One voter, Christine Accurso, told AZ Free News that her cousin, Nadia, had moved from her residence to Kuwait a decade ago. Despite her and Nadia both telling Maricopa County for years that Nadia no longer resides in Arizona, the county has continued to send ballots in Nadia’s name to Accurso’s address. Now, Accurso has another ballot for her cousin for Maricopa County’s jurisdictional elections.
The struggles began several years after Maricopa County purportedly removed Nadia from the voter rolls in 2011 at Nadia’s request. As expected, no ballots arrived for Nadia in the 2012 and 2014 election cycles. (However: even if the county had neglected to remove Nadia from their voter rolls initially, Accurso added that Nadia wouldn’t have gotten a mail-in ballot. Nadia had only ever voted in person, and confirmed with Accurso that she’d never signed up for the Permanent Early Voting List (PEVL) or any opt-ins to receive her ballot by mail.)
Then in 2016, Accurso said that she received a mail-in ballot for her cousin. They both contacted the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office. At first, they were relieved to hear from the office that Nadia would be removed immediately. Then 2018 came – and with it, another ballot for Nadia.
“The weirder thing is that we didn’t get [ballots] in 2012 or 2014 – for those other elections we didn’t get one for her. Then all of a sudden in 2016 we got one,” said Accurso. “The thing that bothers me the most is the fact that [Maricopa County has] been told multiple times [to remove her], and we’ve called and confirmed multiple times [that she was removed]. Then this year I got another one. Something is just wrong.”
AZ Free News was also informed that another individual received a ballot in 2020 for her husband, who’d been deceased for 20 years. That was the first year the deceased individual received a ballot, and for some of the family members it reportedly opened up old wounds connected to the loss.
Yet another concerned voter told AZ Free News that she received ballots for her son in 2018 and 2020 – despite the fact that he moved out of the state in 2017. She marked and returned the ballots to Maricopa County election officials both times to indicate that he no longer lived there.
“I haven’t checked [this year] to see if he still hasn’t been taken off of the [registered voter] list,” explained the voter. “I just remember thinking – how easy to cheat!”
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.
Members of the Public Policy Committee of Greater Phoenix Leadership recently endorsed an editorial entitled “Disenfranchising Voters is Not Election Reform”.
“As an organization of CEOs at the helm of hundreds of thousands of employees in Arizona“, they felt it their public duty to warn of efforts in the legislature not only “undermining our carefully crafted voting system“ but also “actually attempting to suppress the votes of Arizonans“.
They were especially incensed by the “stringent new identification requirements for those voting by mail“ and the “purge of voters from the Early Voting List”. They grouped these bills with other less important measures, then claimed that all of them had “one thing in common: making it more difficult for Arizonans to vote”.
Voter suppression is a serious accusation. It evokes our racist past and implies serious civil rights violations. It’s a cheap slander when charged carelessly without reasonable proof.
There was one critical element missing in the CEOs’ argument: even a single example of how any of these bills would make voting more difficult. Did they even read the bills? There is no such case to be made.
Let’s look at some facts. Voter ID is required for all in-person voters. Their ballots are handled securely throughout the process and their votes are made without any inappropriate influence.
Yet for bulk mail voting (I.e., voting with a ballot not specifically requested by the voter), all the rules go out the window. No ID is required either for receiving nor submitting a ballot.
It’s no surprise that several election experts and commissions have tagged bulk mail voting as a potential source of significant fraud, even though any fraud that does occur is largely undetectable. With mailed ballots, unlike in-person ballots, it’s impossible to know who filled them out and under what circumstances.
The “stringent new requirement“ for mail-in voters would simply require the mailed ballot to include either a voter registration or Arizona Drivers License number. The measure is far from a comprehensive solution but…voter suppression? Give me a break.
The purported “purge“ of the Permanent Early Voting List (PEVL) is nothing more than routine maintenance of the files of bulk mail voters that inevitably become inaccurate with time. County recorders would be required to send a notice to voters who had not returned a mail ballot in four consecutive elections, most likely persons who have died, moved or simply lost interest.
If the addressee failed to respond within 30 days, they would be removed from the list. However they would still be registered to vote and could request reinstatement on the PEVL at any time.
No harm, no foul. Yet this is “Jim Crow 2.0“ according to Democrats desperate to maintain the fraud-vulnerable status quo. But even if passed, these reforms would still not be as restrictive as many laws already on the books in California, Connecticut, DC and other Democrat strongholds never accused of “voter suppression“.
The phenomenon of woke CEOs pressuring legislatures to push left-wing electoral nonsense is not unique to Arizona. Georgia legislators suffered withering criticism from their business community after passing bills similar to those being considered here.
As in Arizona, Georgia activists like the CEO of Coca-Cola were unable to offer any specific objections, other than generic “voter suppression”. With President Biden‘s encouragement, Georgia was nevertheless penalized with the loss of baseball’s All-Star game. Arizona too is facing the threatened loss of scheduled sports championships.
The GPL CEOs, like athletes and entertainers seeking influence, mostly just reiterate the talking points of the Democrat/media crowd. They claim the that voting issues are non-partisan when in fact even mild reforms are unanimously opposed by Democrats.
The CEOs write that voters are satisfied with the current system, so there is nothing to fix. Again, the reality is different. Non-partisan polls reveal a clear majority of voters harbor at least some distrust of our system and favor specific reforms like Arizona’s.
Election integrity isn’t racist, it’s essential to our right to vote. Your vote has been stolen if it is canceled by fraud or manipulation just as surely as if you were refused a ballot.
Dr. Thomas Patterson, former Chairman of the Goldwater Institute, is a retired emergency physician. He served as an Arizona State senator for 10 years in the 1990s, and as Majority Leader from 93-96. He is the author of Arizona’s original charter schools bill.
More than 100,000 Arizona voters on the Permanent Early Voting List (PEVL) have not voted by early ballot in the past four years.
Think about that for a moment. These are people who asked to be on the PEVL but are choosing not to use the system. Not only does this waste taxpayers like you money by sending out unwanted ballots, but it compromises the integrity of our elections.
If someone isn’t using the system, they shouldn’t continue to receive an early ballot by mail. Thankfully, the Arizona Senate addressed the PEVL on Tuesday by passing SB1485, a bill sponsored by Senator Michelle Ugenti-Rita (R-LD23). And predictably, as the bill heads to the Arizona House, Democrats are losing their minds. While most of them are mischaracterizing this bill as “voter suppression,” others have called it a “full-on assault on Democracy,” and Representative Athena Salman (D-LD26) couldn’t help but label it as “racist.”
But while Arizona Democrats proceeded to hurl unhinged attacks and insults at proponents of the legislation, it’s important to look at what this bill actually does. And it’s not that complicated.
SB1485 simply changes the name of the list from the PEVL to the Early Voting List (EVL). That means voters can continue to vote early and by mail as long as they are on the list. But if an individual doesn’t vote by early ballot in both the primary election and the general election for two consecutive cycles, he or she will receive a notice from their county recorder. Failure to respond to the notice means the voter will be removed from the list.
As you can see, this isn’t some sinister conspiracy like Democrats are making it out to be.
There’s nothing in the bill that prevents a voter from being placed back on the list. And it certainly has no impact on someone’s voter registration status.