After losing a hotly contested U.S. Senate race in 2018, Republican state legislators introduced a slew of bills that would suppress the vote across Arizona. The restrictive measures include: a bill (HB 2616) that would outlaw paying people to help register voters as they had been before; a bill (SB 1046) requiring individuals who receive ballots by mail to return the ballot through the mail, rather than return it to voting centers if they want; and a bill (SB 1188) to remove voters from the permanent early voting just for not voting (the Arizona Secretary of State estimated that 200,000 voters would be purged under this bill). 

Republicans in the Arizona House also introduced restrictive voting legislation that sought to eliminate the permanent early voting list altogether (HB 2202) and cancel the voter registration of voters who haven’t recently cast a ballot (HB 2130). 

Unfortunately, a bill (SB 1090) that limits early voting at emergency centers and a bill (SB 1072) that requires voters to show specific identification at early voting sites passed this term. We can be sure the Arizona GOP will continue to introduce bills that make it harder for citizens to vote in the terms ahead.

Moreover, bills that would have improved voting rights, including enacting automatic voter registration (SB 1521), early voting expansion (SB 1427), cutting down wait time at polling places (SB 1200), enacting same-day voter registration (HB 2629), lowering the voting age to 16 years (SCR 1007), and expanding voting centers (HB 2211) did not receive roll call votes. Democrats also proposed legislation (SB 1377) to automatically restore voting rights to justice impacted individuals after they have completed probation or been absolutely discharged from imprisonment. A coalition of Democratic legislators also proposed an amendment to the Arizona Constitution (HCR 2021) that emphasizes that the right to vote is a fundamental right, prevents restrictions on the right, and restores voting rights to individuals convicted of felonies. 

Finally, we are cautiously optimistic about an Arizona election integrity unit that was announced this May. The Arizona Attorney General office is set to receive $530,000 for a new voter fraud unit. A spokesperson for the Arizona Republican AG Mark Brnovich has stated that unit will not seek to find alleged voter fraud, but instead will debunk voter fraud allegations. AG Brnovich’s spokesperson stated: “The notion that there is fraud, pervasive fraud, in our elections is damaging to the collective confidence of the public in our elections and in our public institutions.” Another spokesperson has referred to the unit as the “myth busters of election fraud claims.” Widespread voter fraud is a myth, and we hope the election integrity unit will promote open, fair elections.