Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
Yesterday the Arizona legislature took up the so-called election "reform" bills designed to restrict your constitutional rights as an Arizona citizen to citizen initiatives and referendums and to make it more difficult to submit petitions, and to make it more difficult for some people to vote (aka voter suppression). The conference committee approved it in five minutes without any public testimony.
Once again, these so-called election "reform" bills have now been grouped together under HB 2305 pertaining to "Initiatives; filings; circulators," House Engrossed Version and Senate Engrossed Version (the conference committee bill is not yet available).
The Arizona Republic reports, Arizona lawmakers forward bill on election changes:
Lawmakers broke a stalemate over wide-ranging changes to Arizona election procedures Thursday, bundling several hotly disputed proposals into one bill and triggering warnings of potential lawsuits over voter suppression.
The changes, if approved by the House and Senate, would tighten procedures for citizen initiatives and referenda, limit who can return a voter’s ballot to the polls, and drop people from the permanent early-voting list if they fail to vote by mail in consecutive elections.
“The one commonality in the bill is inhibiting people’s ability to exercise the right to vote,” said state Sen. Steve Gallardo, D-Phoenix.
Gallardo attended the brief conference committee on House Bill 2305, which ran less than five minutes, did not provide any explanation of the proposed changes to the public in attendance, and passed without any comment from the four Republicans and two Democrats on the committee.
Among the provisions:
Recall campaigns must show “strict compliance” with the state Constitution and state laws. To date, the courts, have given citizen efforts some leeway in navigating state rules.
Another provision would require initiative backers to file their petition sheets in a precise order or risk having the state attorney general order them to refile. But it would not give them extra time, something that could be a problem since many initiative campaigns wait until the last minute to file their petitions.
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Voters who are on the permanent early voting list and who fail to vote using their mail-in ballot would be notified that they are being dropped from the list unless they indicate otherwise. It would apply to any voter who did not mail in their ballot in the primary and general elections in 2012, as well as in the primary and general elections of 2014.
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A person can give their completed ballot to another person to drop off at the polls as long as that person “is acting without direction from a political committee, group or organization.” The voter and the person returning their ballot must fill out an affidavit attesting the voter needed help getting the ballot returned to the polls. [Violation of the provision carries a Class 1 misdemeanor.]
The provision is a reaction to numerous Latino groups which last fall returned batches of ballots to the Maricopa County elections office. Officials feared ballot tampering, and cited incidents in which two individuals attempted to collect ballots while misrepresenting whom they represented. However, there was never any evidence of ballot tampering, and no charges were filed.
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Loosens signature requirements for legislative and congressional candidates to get on the ballot. It leaves untouched requirements for statewide offices such as governor and attorney general, as well as county offices.
“Once again, we make it easier for ourselves and make it difficult (for others).” Gallardo said.
This is a voter suppression bill that will restrict your constitutional rights as an Arizona citizen to citizen initiatives and referendums and to make it more difficult to submit petitions, and to make it more difficult for some people to vote. This conference committee bill will need to be voted on by both chambers of the legislature to advance.
Call your state legislators now to oppose this voter suppression bill, and keep calling them until this voter suppression bill has been defeated.
You should also oppose HB 2518, which includes Rep. Justin Olson's provision for "approval voting" in city or town primary or first elections (The voter in the primary or first election shall be permitted to vote for as many candidates for a single office as the voter chooses to approve - The two candidates who receive the highest and second highest number of votes in the primary or first election shall advance to the general or runoff election for that city or town without regard to whether any one candidate has received a majority of the votes cast for that office.) This flies in the face of the constitutional standard of "one person, one vote" and allows for the organized manipulation of the vote.