The Arizona Legislature voted to send the Arizonans for Voter ID Act to the ballot as a proposition this fall, and 15 more election integrity bills passed the Arizona House. The Arizonans for Voter ID Act was initially launched as a citizens’ initiative by the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, which would have required 237,645 valid signatures to get on the ballot. SCR 1012, which passed along party lines, bypasses that time-consuming and often difficult process.
State Rep. Jake Hoffman (R-Queen Creek), who has six election integrity bills that have passed the House, told The Arizona Sun Times, “Republicans at the Capitol are fighting like hell to protect the integrity of Arizona’s elections with bills like HB 2492, among many others, so that voters can have confidence that every legally cast ballot matters. Election integrity isn’t just the right thing to do and critical for restoring voter confidence, it has become the civil rights issue of our day.”
He went on, “My Republican colleagues and I are committed to ensuring that in Arizona it’s easy to vote and hard to cheat, and what terrifies the radicalized Democrats in the legislature is that the overwhelming majority of Arizonans agree with us. I’m very confident that this legislative session will see more than two dozen critical election reforms pass out of the state House and Senate and be signed into law by the Governor. My Republican colleagues and I are committed to ensuring that in Arizona it’s easy to vote and hard to cheat, and what terrifies the radicalized Democrats in the legislature is that the overwhelming majority of Arizonans agree with us.”
State Senator Kelly Townsend (R-Apache Junction), told the Sun Times, “Today the Senate Republican caucus met to discuss which bills they can support. We were able to get through much of what we have been proposing and received support from nearly all the members with two absent and not weighing in. I’m excited to see good election reform moving forward, ideas that will fortify election security so that voters can feel more secure about their votes. Bills deal with securing technology, ballot paper, chain of custody, removing drop boxes, improving signature verification, cleaning of the voter rolls, and many other items that we are looking to fix.”
The Arizonans for Voter ID Act requires voter ID on mailed-in ballots, enhances the requirement for dropped-off ballots, improves in-person voting ID requirements, and provides a free voter ID to address voter disenfranchisement accusations. Mail-in ballots will be required to include the voter’s date of birth and either their driver’s license number, the last four digits of their social security number, or their voter ID number. The current system merely compares voters’ signatures on the envelope to their signature on file. And voters who show up at polling locations will no longer be able to use just a utility bill as ID.
The vast majority of voter fraud occurs with mail-in ballots. The independent Maricopa County ballot audit of the 2020 election found that the acceptance rate of ballots with questionable signatures got increasingly sloppier as the days went on leading up to the election and afterwards, until it was clearly violating the law as to what ballots were being accepted.
A similar election integrity law just went into effect in Texas, and is already nabbing thousands of improper ballots. Over one-third of ballots mailed in for the primary in Harris County were rejected.
Of dozens of election integrity bills proposed this session in the Arizona Legislature, 15 major ones have passed the House. Almost all of them passed along party lines, 31 Republicans to 26 Democrats. Several of them were meant to address problems caused by the Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs.
Hoffman sponsored the most: six of the bills that made it this far. HB 2236 bans automatic voter registration, and HB 2237 bans same-day voter registration. HB 2243 modifies voter registration forms to add a line notifying the voter that their registration will be canceled if they move to another state.
HB 2289, sponsored by State Representative John Fillmore (R-Apache Junction) makes it easier for representatives of a political party to observe ballot tabulation all the way through the process.
State Representative Shawnna Bolick (R-Phoenix), who sponsored four bills and has created a “Roadmap to Restore Election Integrity,” introduced HB 2378. It prohibits the secretary of state from entering into settlements that materially affect county recorders without consulting them, and also authorizes county recorders to enter those civil actions. HB 2379, also sponsored by Bolick, provides that state law will supersede the state elections procedures manual if there is a conflict, and adds the legislature to provide personnel to the secretary of state when working on the manual.
HB 2492, another bill from Hoffman, requires proof of citizenship to vote and turns those who attempt but are not citizens over to the attorney general for prosecution. Hoffman’s HB 2494 requires the secretary of state and county recorders to post on their websites a record of what events they or their staff attend where there is voter registration.
Bolick’s HB 2602 allows emergency voting centers only in the case of a genuine emergency, and allows electioneering to occur outside 75 feet from polling locations unless they have been very clearly designated non-electioneering locations.
HB 2617, sponsored by State Representative Joseph Chaplik (R-Scottsdale) makes it easier for county recorders to cancel voter registration when it’s clear someone no longer lives in the state, is a felon, or other valid reason. It requires the secretary of state and county recorders to regularly check to see if voters are no longer eligible, by checking relevant government databases including those containing deaths and driver’s license information, and requires jury managers to send the secretary of state and county recorders jury questionnaires when the person has stated they are not a citizen.
HB 2710, sponsored by State Representative John Kavanagh (R-Fountain Hills) makes voter registration information public records, makes it easier to be removed from the active early voting list, makes it easier for political parties to observe voting tabulation, adds publication requirements before commencing hand counts, and makes it easier for political parties to provide board watchers for hand counts.
Another bill by Kavanagh, HB 2780, requires county recorders to publish a list of registered voters prior to elections, publish a list of who voted and whether they voted by mail or in person after elections, publish ballot images, and identifying numbers that make it possible to connect ballots to batches that were counted.
HB 2783, by Bolick, makes it a class 6 felony for the secretary of state to fail to complete the state elections manual every other year. It passed the House, but a motion was made to reconsider it within 14 days.
Hoffman’s HB 2786 prohibits election officials from comparing voters’ signatures to their signatures on unofficial forms.
Finally, Kavanagh’s HB 2170 requires documents and links sent to voters that contain official voter information, voting registration, or early ballot requests to disclose in large writing, and clearly, that the information is not being sent from the government.
There were also a few other bills that passed the House that could be construed as election integrity bills, such as one addressing precinct committee persons.
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Rachel Alexander is a reporter at the Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Rachel on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Kelly Townsend” by ArizonaSage. CC BY-SA 4.0. Background Photo “Arizona State House Floor” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 3.0.