Michele Reagan’s Election Law Changes

This column appeared in today’s Arizona Republic. I note for the record that in spite of several messages to Rep Reagan about concerns I have regarding these changes and others that have drastically affected municipal elections like in Scottsdale, she has yet to even acknowledge receiving them.

Changes in elections law will help, not hurt, voters

Much has been said lately about House Bill 2305 and the changes it makes to our elections laws. I’ve recently read some wild accusations that this bill is an attempt to disenfranchise cer­tain voters. Really? Nothing could be farther from the truth.

This bill was written with one goal in mind: being ac­countable to the voter, by pro­tecting the integrity of our elections system and ensuring that votes get counted in a fair and timely manner.

It’s time to stop all the non­sense hyper-accusations about HB 2305 for a minute and look at the real facts.

Fact: Prior to this bill’s pas­sage, Arizona was one of only a handful of states that did not have a specific law on who can handle or return a ballot. In fact, when speaking to legisla­tors from other states, whether red, blue, or purple, I found the practice of mass collection of ballots is unheard of.

One man turning in 4,000 ballots? That doesn’t really happen, does it? Surprisingly, yes. This fact was stated in tes­timony before my Senate Elec­tions committee.

Regarding the ability of county elec­tions officials to remove someone from the per­manent early­ voting list — every other state that has early ballot­ing has a way for the county re­corders to keep their lists clean and up to date.

Fact: Voters move and some voters have passed away. Many people are on the early-voting list, but choose to vote at the polls instead. How in the world can the voter lists be kept clean without the ability to update them as necessary?

I would agree that the word “permanent” probably wasn’t the best choice for a name when our elections officials set up this system, but the early ­voting portion of this bill is ad­ministrative cleanup and noth­ing else.

Critics of HB 2305 incor­rectly stated that this cleanup is retroactive to 2010. That is false. Any changes are only ap­plicable to 2012 and 2014, mean­ing the first time any changes can be made is in 2016. The goal is to get our lists up to date in time for the next presidential election. Why? Because after our last general election, vot­ers demanded change. They waited in long lines, and it took 15 days for the results to be counted.

And the hollow argument that this bill is aimed at a par­ticular segment of our voting population?

Fact: According to our coun­ty elections officials, the dis­trict expected to have the most early-voting list changes is Dis­trict 23 (Scottsdale and Foun­tain Hills), which has one of the lowest Latino voter popula­tions in the state.

So it seemed quite odd to me when I read that this bill is an attempt to offend minority vot­ers, when in fact this bill is nothing more than the solution to complaints made by these very same minority groups who picketed and protested af­ter ballots took so long to count in the last election.

Michele Reagan, a Republican, represents District 23 in the Arizona Senate.

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