PHOENIX — The Arizona House is expected to debate the first of two controversial election bills Tuesday that are expected to reach the floor this week.
SB 1485 changes the "permanent voting list" to the "early voting list." More importantly, it removes voters from the list if they have not voted at least once in two successive election cycles. Opponents say the bill will eliminate 150,000 voters from the permanent voting list. The bill was on the floor earlier this month when it was abruptly pulled because there were not enough Republican votes to ensure its passage.
Speaking at a press conference Monday, State Senator Michelle Ugenti-Rita, the author of the bill, and State Senator J.D. Mesnard accused the media and business leaders of trying to derail their efforts to reform Arizona’s elections.
Mesnard is the sponsor of a second bill requiring a voter’s driver’s license number, date of birth and signature be included in any ballot by mail.
“It’s not about the merits of the policy apparently. It’s reactionary political rhetoric,” Mesnard said in reference to a letter signed by 48 members of the Greater Phoenix Leadership urging lawmakers to vote against the bills, arguing they disenfranchise voters and should not be considered election reform.
“I’ve campaigned on it and won time and time again and GPL wants to come in and say they represent people, what have they done?” Ugenti-Rita said.
Progressive groups have mobilized community, church, and business organizations to lobby lawmakers and oppose the election legislation.
“This is a piece of the ongoing effort to undermine faith in our election process and use it to justify more restrictions on voting,” said Joel Edman of the Arizona Advocacy Network.
Both Mesnard and Ugenti-Rita believe their election bills are good public policy. But if the legislation makes it to the governor’s desk it’s only because every Republican voted for the bills. Neither has Democratic support.