Arizona Republican lawmakers are pushing a bill that would gut the state’s Permanent Early Voting List.
A bill passed out of the House Elections Committee last week would purge voters from a list that automatically provides them with an early voting mail-in ballot if they don’t vote in either the primary or general election for two consecutive election cycles, the Arizona Republic reported. The legislation now faces a vote before the full GOP-controlled House before going to Republican Gov. Doug Ducey’s desk.
Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs is pushing for the measure’s defeat, estimating that some 200,000 voters would have been removed from the list if the law had been in effect during the 2016 and 2018 cycles, the newspaper reported.
The bill represents the latest bid by the state GOP to undermine voting access after the surprising results of the 2018 midterm elections. After slow ballot counts in the heavily populated, traditionally Republican Maricopa County were complete, Hobbs and Democratic Senate nominee Kyrsten Sinema won their races.
In short order, local Republicans proposed curbing the authority of Maricopa County’s top elections official, who happens to be a Democrat, and restricting the state’s early voting practices.
Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita (R) is the force behind several of these measures, including the most recent proposal to purge to the Permanent Early Voting List. A previous proposal of hers would ban people on the Permanent Early Voting List from dropping off mail-in ballots at polling places or early voting centers.
Democratic lawmakers have questioned the need for the list purge, warning that it would suppress turnout and make it harder to voters to participate in the 2020 elections.
“What is the goal we are trying to serve?” Rep. Diego Rodriguez, a Democrat on the House Elections Committee, asked during debate last week, according to the newspaper. “If this is not an issue of voter suppression, then please go back and fix this bill because the effect of it makes it look that way.”
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