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Changes in elections law will help, not hurt, voters

By Michele Reagan My Turn, Fri Jul 12, 2013 6:29 PM

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 g so long to count in the last election.

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