Early Ballot ID Requirement Passes Senate Elections Committee

Early Ballot ID Requirement Passes Senate Elections Committee

By Corinne Murdock |

On Monday, the Senate Elections Committee passed a bill requiring voter ID for those turning in early ballots on Election Day. The committee passed the bill, SB1135, along partisan lines: 5-3.

SB1135 also requires early ballots not delivered or mailed to the county recorder or other elections officers to be exchanged by the voter for a regular ballot at a polling place or voting center by 7 pm on Election Day. Electors who exchange their early ballot for a regular ballot must spoil their early ballot and receive a regular ballot from an election official.

An earlier version of the bill would’ve required automatic removal of voters from the Active Early Voter List (AEVL) if they bring their early ballot to a polling place to vote in person. However the bill sponsor, State Sen. John Kavanagh (R-LD03), removed this provision out of the bill via an adopted amendment.

State Sen. Juan Mendez (D-LD08) insisted that the requirement to spoil early ballots would disenfranchise voters, raising the hypothetical of a voter who forgets their ID and may not get to vote because of it. Kavanagh countered that those voters needed to prove that the early ballot legally belongs to them.

“How do I know you’re you if you don’t have ID? How do I know you didn’t find it on the street or you stole it from a friend’s house?” asked Kavanagh.

Mendez responded that signature verification would prevent that method of voter fraud. Kavanagh disagreed, arguing that signature verification is unreliable. Kavanagh said that signatures can be copied from government websites.

Kavanagh further argued that spoiling early ballots brought in on Election Day would reduce the current issue of weeks-long counting delays, since those ballots would be exchanged for regular ones tabulated on site. 

“Don’t have it go into a box and then two to three days later we still don’t know who won,” said Kavanagh.

Kavanagh noted that this spoliation process could be avoided with the passage of another bill, SB1105, which allows voters who bring early ballots in on Election Day to have their vote tabulated immediately if they bring valid ID. The committee approved that bill as well.

State Sen. Priya Sundareshan (D-LD18) argued that the bill makes voting more difficult and time-consuming. Kavanagh disputed the idea that early ballots are meant to be dropped off in person, saying that the current flexibility in law causes confusion and disorganization. 

Jen Marson with the Arizona Association of Counties (AACo) warned that SB1105’s language might undermine its intended purpose. Kavanagh promised to meet with the Association.

Among those who issued public comments on the bill was Ricardo Serna, a self-identified independent voter and poll worker. Serna claimed that the bill would disenfranchise college students because they simply didn’t have the time to cast their ballot as intended. Kavanagh said he didn’t believe that was true.

“I don’t know why you would limit choices for something so important as our elections,” said Serna.

Though Serna described himself as an “independent voter” and poll worker, he’s the president of Maricopa County Young Democrats. Serna was also the district field director for Progressive Turnout Project.

Majority Leader Sonny Borelli (R-LD30) pointed out that the state’s college campuses have early voting sites. Serna said that wasn’t enough.

The committee’s three Democrats were in opposition to the bill, claiming that it wasn’t inclusive enough and prioritized efficiency over accessibility. Sundareshan argued that early mail-in voting was essential to be inclusive of minority voters and other, unspecified groups. 

“We need to be providing more options to vote, more accessibility at the ballot,” said Sundareshan.

State Sen. Anna Hernandez (D-LD24) concurred, saying that voting needed to be easier for historically underserved groups. Mendez opined that the bill created more barriers and confusion for election officials.

State Sen. Ken Bennett (R-LD01) expressed concern that Kavanagh’s bill would potentially contend with other bills, such as SB1105. Bennett voted to pass the bill but indicated that he wouldn’t support it on the floor if it ultimately conflicted with legislative language with other bills. Bennett urged Kavanagh to work with other legislators issuing similar legislation to ensure its viability. 

“We have to keep voters’ ability to vote first,” said Bennett. “But I think we can have accuracy and speed up the process at the same time.” 

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

Ducey Returns To Town, Vetoes 22 Bills Over Budget Stalemate

Ducey Returns To Town, Vetoes 22 Bills Over Budget Stalemate

By B. Hamilton |

In what has being characterized by some lawmakers as a “tantrum,” Governor Doug Ducey announced on Twitter Friday afternoon that he has vetoed 22 bills and that he will not sign any other legislation until a budget is passed. In a series of tweets, Governor Ducey characterized the vetoed bills as containing “good policy,” but that he was unhappy that the legislature failed to pass a budget before temporarily recessing for the Memorial Day weekend.

The decision to veto nearly two dozen bills without warning shocked many at the capitol, especially since the Governor was out of town all week at the Republican Governor’s Association meeting in Tennessee.

“It’s unfortunate the governor had to veto 22 bills today including one very important bill dealing with the prohibition of critical race theory indoctrination in government,” Speaker Pro Tempore Travis Grantham told AZ Free News. “This is a direct result of a select few in both the House and Senate, who refuse to do what’s best for the citizens of Arizona and pass a fiscally sound conservative budget without wasteful spending and pork. It’s time to get to work and stay there until we put special interests aside, reduce burdensome taxes on our citizens, and vote for a responsible Republican budget.”

“The Governor’s decision to veto crucial election integrity legislation, as well as, his veto of a bill that would’ve banned taxpayer money from being used to teach the racist, bigoted Critical Race Theory (CRT) ideology is shocking and disappointing for the millions of Arizonans who support these measures,” said Rep. Jake Hoffman.

“The decision to employ strong arm tactics by vetoing over 20 Republican bills, presumably driven by some of his staff and advisors, reflects a fundamental miscalculation regarding the status and progress of the budget negotiations.” Hoffman concluded, “It is deeply concerning that they did not foresee how detrimental indiscriminately vetoing nearly two dozen bills would be on reaching consensus on the budget.”

Capitol insiders told AZ Free News that Governor Ducey has been absent throughout most of the budget negotiations, and most lawmakers have not heard from him or staff about the budget all session.  “Not being in town during these final stages of budget negotiations was a real disappointment. If he cares so much, why hasn’t he been here.” said one lawmaker who wished to speak off the record.

The bills vetoed by Governor Ducey today include:

SB1022 unborn child; statutory language

SB1030 guilty except insane; court jurisdiction

SB1074 governance; audits; training

SB1119 attorney general; federal executive orders

SB1121 marijuana; security

SB1127 vehicle speed limits

SB1135 taxes; 529 contributions; ABLE contributions

SB1176 nutrition assistance; benefit match

SB1215 liquor; sales; delivery; identification information

SB1408 medical marijuana; research; mental health

SB1514 emergency shelter beds; seniors

SB1526 prisoners; training; individual certificates

SB1635 reviser’s technical corrections; 2021

SB1716 Arizona state hospital; admission; governance

HB2296 restricted license; DUI; suspension

HB2303 marijuana; laboratories; proficiency testing

HB2414 marijuana; inspections; licensing; financial ownership

HB2554 party representative; resident; violation

HB2674 sex offender registration; termination

HB2792 early ballots; request required

The governor stated in his formal veto letter that the proposed budget agreement “makes responsible and significant investments in K-12 education, higher education, infrastructure and local communities, all while delivering historic tax relief to working families and small businesses.”

Another Capitol insider told AZ Free News, “I don’t think Governor Ducey realizes that his veto rampage likely created more problems than it solved. He wiped out a lot of hard work and expects lawmakers to come back because he now is finally interested in showing up to work after being AWOL all session? A lot of people down here won’t put up with this.”

Negotiations on the budget are expected to resume next week. The Legislature has until June 30th to pass a budget plan before the end of the fiscal year and avoid a government shutdown.