PHOENIX — It’s officially President Biden's time in office now. But the aftermath of the November 3 election is still playing out in Arizona.
At the State Legislature, lawmakers will soon begin deciding on a number of bills aimed at changing the state’s election law.
Some Republicans call it restoring integrity to the system. Opponents see it as a case of sore losers out to make it harder to vote.
More than 3.2 million people on Arizona’s permanent early voting list either mailed or dropped off a ballot in November. It amounted to 80% of the vote.
“You got proposals that would force people to get their ballots notarized, you got proposals that would purge hundreds of thousands of people from that list,” says Emily Kirkland the Co-Director of ProgressNow Arizona.
Kirkland has her sights on several Republican-sponsored election bills. One wants to require voters on the permanent voting list to get their ballots notarized.
Another, a bill from Senator Michelle Ugenti-Rita (R) Scottsdale District 23, would remove voters from the list if they haven’t voted in two successive election cycles and then failed to respond to a notice warning them they’ll be dropped.
“We want to reduce the opportunity for undue influence, for fraud for manipulation,” Senator Ugenti-Rita said. “So how we manage and run elections is important.”
Ugenti-Rita says her bill provides more transparency, more integrity, and more convenience. “You want people to have confidence in the outcome of the election,” she said.
Despite accusations of election fraud from Arizona Republican Party Chair Kelli Ward and Congressman Paul Gosar, there was never any evidence to support it. Every time a case went to court, it was thrown out.
But Ugenti-Rita counters that she authored a similar bill in 2019. She believes it’s good public policy and strengthens the statutory structure for running elections.
Emily Kirkland says if Ugenti-Rita’s bill was in effect for the November election, 225,000 voters would have been removed from the permanent voting list.
State Senator Martin Quezada (D) Phoenix, District 29 believes that is just wrong. “Who knows how many of them would have been confused by that process,” Quezada said, “confused by the fact it was a permanent system and now it’s not.”
Quezada dismisses the notion if you haven’t voted you don’t want to be on the permanent voting list. “In some cases not to vote, that’s a vote in and of itself,” he said. “Instead of removing people from that list we should be doing, as elected officials from both sides of the aisle, is improving our platforms and actually encouraging people to vote.”
As he signed the vote certification on November 30, Governor Ducey said “Arizona knows how to do elections.” But his seal of approval may not be enough incentive for the legislature to vote against any changes to Arizona’s election laws. Some of those bills may very well end up on his desk.