Restore Voting Rights, Stop Voter Suppression

Target: Arizona Governor Janice Brewer

Goal: Veto Arizona’s last-minute voter suppression bill

On the 11th hour of its last day of a special session, the Arizona legislature passed a bill to restrict voting rights, citizen initiatives, and referendums. It will now be more difficult to submit petitions. The code word for this bill is election “reform”, and the bill’s identification number is HB 2305. A conference committee approved it in five minutes without hearing what the public thought about it. The bill is now on the Governor Jan Brewer’s desk, and there is a small window of opportunity to persuade her to veto it.

One of the most egregious provisions in the bill is that voters who are on the permanent early voting list and who fail to vote using their mail-in ballot would be notified that they are being dropped from the list unless they indicate otherwise. This provision applies to any voter who failed to mail the ballot in 2012, and will apply in 2014.

Then there is also an issue of “approval voting” in city or town primary or first elections. Voters will be permitted to vote for as many candidates for a single office as they choose. Then, the two candidates who receive the highest and second highest number of votes will move to the general or runoff election for that city or town without regard to whether any one candidate has received a majority of the votes cast for that office. The concept of “one person, one vote” is blatantly violated in this scheme.

HB 2305 even criminalizes volunteers and makes it more difficult to bring someone else’s ballot to the polls. Now both the voter and a person submitting the ballot must sign an affidavit that the voter needed help to return the ballot to the polls. The person bringing the ballot in cannot act on direction from a political committee, group or organization. Clearly, this provision is the reflection of last year’s elections, when numerous Latino groups returned batches of ballots to the Maricopa County elections office. The officials feared that the ballots had been tampered with; however, no evidence was ever found and no charges were filed.

State Senator Steve Gallardo (D-Phoenix) put it blatantly: “The one commodity in the bill is inhibiting people’s ability to exercise the right to vote”. Please urge Arizona’s Governor Jan Brewer to veto the voter “wrongs” bill.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Governor Brewer:

House Bill 2305 is currently awaiting your signature. This bill is not good for Arizona, and runs counter to democracy that America was founded on. The conference committee did not receive any input from the public about the proposed legislation, and it was passed in five minutes. It was passed in an undemocratic manner, which is the first sign that this bill should be scrutinized.

HB 2305 provides that voters who fail to vote by mail in the previous election will be notified that they are dropped from the voter rolls unless they indicate otherwise. A democratic concept of “one person, one vote” is also blatantly violated by this legislation. It makes more difficult to bring someone else’s ballot to the polls. HB 2305 requires that an affidavit be signed both by the voter and the person delivering the ballot that the voter needed help in that regard. Political committees, groups and organizations are not permitted to help with this task, and that makes it harder to vote for some people.

This bill does nothing else but inhibit people’s ability to exercise their right to vote. Please use your executive power to veto this bill and bring democracy back to Arizona.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Taro The Shiba Inu via Flickr

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