By Terri Jo Neff |
Whether Arizonans will be able to receive assistance registering to vote while applying for a state fishing, hunting, or trapping license is now up to the Arizona Senate.
On Tuesday, the state House of Representatives approved Senate Bill 1170 by an overwhelming bipartisan 42 to 9 margin, with 9 representatives not voting. The bill requires the Arizona Game and Fish Department to assist with voter registration when accepting license applications, with the goal of allowing Arizonans the ability to update their voter registration or register to vote when they apply for AZGFD tags.
But getting the legislation to Gov. Doug Ducey’s desk will first require a vote by the state Senate.
Rep. David Cook (R-Globe) noted while voting in favor of SB1170 that the Arizona Department of Motor Vehicles already assists voters to register to vote. The same convenient, non-party affiliated option should be available for those seeking AZGFD licenses.
Cook’s comments came after Minority Leader Reginald Bolding Jr. spoke against SB1170, which he said is “singling out” AZGFD over other state agencies. Bolding (D-Laveen) claimed lawmakers have “spent a number of hours and resources” this session to make it more difficult for some departments to register individuals to vote, but SB1170 targets “a specific type” of individual with help in registering to vote.
Also speaking—and voting—against SB1170 was Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley, who has voted against several election integrity bills this session.
“It seems to me that this distributed process would add a lot of potentially untrained people registering people,” Powers Hanley (D-Tucson) stated in explaining her no vote. “There would be a lot of paper forms out there in multiple locations where they sell these permits, and I think that adding more people and more locations adds more risks for fraud in the future.”
If SB1170 is signed into law, it formally repeals similar AZGFD voter assistance language added to state law last year before the Arizona Supreme Court struck down the budget bill the language was included in. The new language includes two options for voter assistance, the first involving the AZGFD website.
If an Arizonan applies online for a fishing, hunting, or trapping license they would see a link to the Arizona Department of Transportation’s voter registration webpage. On the other hand, those applying for a license at a AZGFD office would be offered a paper voter registration form.
Those forms would come from the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office, which is exactly where the completed forms are to be returned. From there, the AZSOS would forward any forms to the appropriate county recorder to determine voter eligibility.
As to the question of whether state agencies should be involved in voter registration efforts, House Speaker Rusty Bowers told the chamber during Tuesday’s vote about recently receiving a letter from Arizona Health Care Cost Containment Systems (AHCCCS) in regard to his daughter who died last year.
With the letter was a voter registration form as a courtesy, said Bowers (R-Mesa).
SB1170 is a way to increase the number of people registering to vote while ensuring they “do it right,” Bowers added, and “is right in line” with efforts to ensure election integrity. Having a state agency involved in promoting voter registration “is totally appropriate,” he said.