This week got off to a great start. On Monday, the Arizona House passed HB2492, a bill that would safeguard our voter rolls by ensuring that only qualified, U.S. citizens are registered to vote, able to vote in Presidential elections, and eligible to vote by mail.
But the good news didn’t stop there.
The House also passed SCR1012, known as the Arizonans for Voter ID Act. And with the Senate already passing this ballot referral late last week, that means the people of Arizona will now get to decide on universal voter ID in November.
This is an important step to ensure the integrity of our elections. “Easy to vote and hard to cheat” should be the benchmark for every election we have. And in Arizona, voters certainly have many ways to exercise their vote, including day-of-polls, early voting, and mail-in voting.
But the security of our elections has been a different story…
Voters may be asked to approve the requirement of ID for early ballots, according to the Arizona legislature’s approval of a proposed constitutional amendment, SCR1012. The resolution, sponsored by State Senator J.D. Mesnard (R-Chandler) and now headed to Governor Doug Ducey for approval, passed 31-26 along party lines in the House on Monday and 16-12 in the Senate last Thursday.
SCR1012 would require voters to sign an affidavit including their date of birth and their early voter ID number: either their driver’s license number, their nonoperating ID license number, the last four digits of their social security number, or their unique identifying number. For security purposes, the legislation clarified that concealment measures must be undertaken when delivering or mailing the ballots. If a voter can’t mark the ballot themselves, they must include their assistant’s phone number and relationship to them.
Election workers must ensure that this additional information is present and accurate. Inability to confirm the information would first require election workers to contact the voter before disqualifying the ballot.
Additionally, on-site early voting locations must require voters to present their ID before receiving a ballot. The legislation prohibits the state from charging for nonoperating ID licenses required for registering to vote or voting.
The legislation would apply no earlier than the next primary elections in 2024.
During last week’s vote on the bill, Senate Democrats argued that the bill would cause severe lags and disruptions at best and outright voter suppression at worst. Senate Republicans responded that signatures alone weren’t a sufficient identifying measure.
State Senator Martín Quezada (D-Quezada) noted how after a similar bill was enacted in Texas, a rate of 40 percent of ballots were rejected in the largest county, Harris County, to the tune of thousands of ballots. Quezada said that the potential rejection rates were too great to pass the bill. He argued that it would be “suppressing the vote.”
In response, State Senator Kelly Townsend (R-Mesa) rebutted that signatures alone weren’t enough. She declared that about 90 percent of signatures from the 2020 election were obvious mismatches, along with 39 percent of those being probable mismatches. Townsend raised the greater concern of accountability for the election workers who decided to approve those ballots with mismatched signatures, questioning whether they would also rubber stamp ballots with missing, unmatched, or incorrect ID numbers or birth dates.
“Why are we wasting our time on this? What’s the point? May the best cheaters win. You know? Because no one’s going to hold you accountable. So maybe that ought to be the new narrative: whoever can outplay the system the best is the one who wins the election,” said Townsend. “You guys say ‘voter suppression’; we need cheating suppression.”
State Senator Sean Bowie (D-Chandler) argued the bill was unnecessary. He said that over 80 percent of his district’s voters vote by mail. Bowie said that people weren’t capable of adapting to the changes of additional requirements on their ballot.
State Senator Vince Leach (R-Tucson) pointed out how Democrats weren’t insulted at the idea of IDs for other parts of public life, including traveling, but expressed displeasure concerning elections.
“It’s beyond the pale that when it comes to a ballot box that, all of a sudden, everything goes out the window of everyday life. The world is changing because of one small card the size of a credit card. It’s unbelievable,” said Leach.