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Activists to fight Arizona's new election law SB-1485, targeting early voting ballots

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Posted at 4:42 PM, May 12, 2021

PHOENIX — A day after Governor Doug Ducey signed a contentious election bill, which may remove more than 100,000 voters from the active early voting rolls, voting rights activists said they will now take their fight to Congress.

“This bill is simple, it’s all about election integrity,” the Governor said on Twitter, but Pastor Warren H Stewart Sr. of the African American Christian Clergy Coalition, a group that represents more than 100 churches said the bill is all about who voted in 2020.

“If it’s all about election integrity,” Pastor Stewart said, “Why did the PEVL [permanent early voting list] need to be changed after Arizona historically voted for a democrat as President of the United States after 30 years and elected it’s second democratic U.S. Senator in two years?”

Eighty percent of Arizona’s eligible voters turned out to vote in the 2020 Presidential election, with most of them voting by mail.

SB-1485 won’t begin to remove names from voting rolls until after the 2024 Presidential election. By then if someone who is on the list has not voted at least once in four elections, they’ll will receive a notice from their county recorder.

If they voter doesn’t respond to the notice, their name is removed from the list. They can still vote in an election but will not receive a ballot in the mail unless they sign back up to be on the list.

State Senator Martin Quezada said the bill targets people of color, who work a lot and vote "inconsistently." When their ballots don’t arrive at their door, they are the ones who will be confused and lessen their chance they’ll show up and cast their vote.”

Senator Quezada, Pastor Stewart and dozens of people representing various progressive organizations came to the Capitol Wednesday to decry voter suppression and promised to take their fight to Congress.

The U.S. Senate is considering two voting reform bills, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the For the People Act. They would negate more than 360 election bills introduced or passed by Republican legislatures in Arizona and 46 other states. There is no easy or quick road to passage.

On Tuesday, a U.S. Senate Committee voted 9-9 on one of the bills.

"We gotta get more than just a nod from Senator Kelly and Senator Sinema that we endorse HR1, we endorse SB1, we endorse HB4. We know you love John Lewis,” said Mel Hannah of the Arizona Commission of American Affairs.

So, the fight will move away from the Capitol to rallies in the coming days in Phoenix and Tucson.

Senators Sinema and Kelly support the voting rights bills, but both bills will need 60 votes to avoid a filibuster.

Unless the U.S. Senate changes its rules and neither senator has indicated they’d be willing to do that.