House Unexpectedly Rejects Identification Info On Early Ballot Affidavit

House Unexpectedly Rejects Identification Info On Early Ballot Affidavit

By Terri Jo Neff |

Republicans have touted making changes to Arizona’s election laws since long before the current legislative session began Jan. 11. But only one major election-related bill has been signed by Gov. Doug Ducey so far, and on Wednesday another bill died and a third was put on hold.

In an unexpected move Wednesday, Republican Reps. Joel John and Michelle Udall cast their votes with all 29 House Democrats against SB1713, the Sen. J.D. Mesnard-sponsored bill which would have required voters to provide one bit of personal identification information on their early ballot affidavit before mailing it in.

SB1713 was introduced by Mesnard (R-LD17) in February to address concerns that a signature on the affidavit without some other identifying information was not sufficient to ensure ballot integrity.  The bill later sat in the House for nearly two months before being amended Wednesday to require an early ballot voter’s date of birth to be included on the voter’s affidavit long with their Arizona driver’s license (or non-operating state ID) number or voter registration number.

The amendment passed but a short time later the newly worded bill failed 29 to 31 when John (R-LD4) and Udall (R-LD25) voted no, effectively killing the bill for the session.

Meanwhile, another election-related bill is on life support despite efforts by Sen. Kelly Townsend (R-LD16) and Rep. John Kavanagh (R-LD23) to push through more than 20 changes to how Arizona’s elections are conducted, changes Townsend says are needed to ensure “election integrity, election reform, and election security.”

Among the varied topics covered in SB1241 are the handling of data storage devices used during elections, affidavits for persons who process or count ballots, chain of custody requirements for election equipment, and what to do if there is a conflict between the state’s Election Procedures Manual and state law (hint: the law wins).

SB1241 also makes it easier to cancel a voter’s registration in another state upon their move to Arizona, allows voters who cast ballots at a voting location to request a receipt, prohibits any tabulation equipment from being connected to the internet, and requires all tabulation results to remain in the United States.

Some violations of the bill could be prosecuted as a Class 2 misdemeanor. In addition, it would force county elections officials to report to the Arizona Attorney General or the local county attorney any “inconsistent” signatures on early ballot affidavits.

A scheduled Third Read of SB1241 on Wednesday did not happen due to budget negotiations which led to the House recessing for the next week or so.  Assuming it passed the House at some point, it would still need to go back to Senate to vote on the current amended version of the bill.

Mesnard And Ugenti-Rita Push Back Against Claims That Election Integrity Bills Equal Suppression

Mesnard And Ugenti-Rita Push Back Against Claims That Election Integrity Bills Equal Suppression

By B. Hamilton |

An exasperated Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita was joined by Sen. JD Mesnard on Monday at a press conference held in anticipation of votes in the Arizona House on their election integrity legislation. Mesnard and Ugenti-Rita fielded questions and pushed back hard against suggestions that reforms amount to voter suppression.

“Don’t let the screen door hit ya, where the good Lord split ya,” said Ugenti-Rita in response to a reporter’s question as to whether the reforms would prompt people to leave Arizona.

Contrary to the reporter’s question, the reforms sought by Mesnard and Ugenti-Rita would send few fleeing from the state as the bills enjoy widespread support according to recent polling.

Mesnard’s bill, SB1713, would add requirements to the early balloting process designed to help ensure the voter is the person using the ballot.

“The premise behind the bill is simple. We wanted to create continuity and standardization across the various methods of voting. If it was good enough for those voting in person, it should be good enough for those voting by mail,” said Sen. Mesnard, who sponsored SB1713. “Immediately the bill was condemned by radical progressive groups and those willing to perpetuate their outrageous narrative. Yet, no one could explain to me why having the same or similar process in both cases was bad public policy. It seemed no one was interested in debating the bill for what it actually did.”

SB1713 would simply require voters that vote by mail to include additional identification when voting.

Ugenti-Rita’s bill, SB1485, would drop a voter from the Early Voting List only after they received a ballot by mail and refused to vote it on four consecutive occasions (elections).

“Election integrity is non-negotiable,” she said. “We’re not going to back down from something that’s reasonable, that is commonsense, and protects the integrity of our elections.”

While the issue of election integrity has been a contentious one at the state legislature this session, a recent poll shows that a majority of Arizona voters support election integrity reforms with big majorities in favor of voter ID laws.

“The vast majority of Americans support voter ID laws and election integrity reforms,” said Arizona Free Enterprise Club President Scot Mussi. “The Club commends Senators Mesnard and Ugenti-Rita for sponsoring bills that help make Arizona’s election system more accessible and fraud-proof. And we call on the House to pass both SB1713 and SB1485.”

Both bills come after the turbulent 2020 election, where many voters and lawmakers were left questioning the election process.