Arizona lawmaker Wendy Rogers Wants to Change Election Law

Arizona lawmaker Wendy Rogers Wants to Change Election Law

Republican Arizona lawmakers filed nearly a wish-list of nearly a dozen election reform measures to reshape how people vote and impose new criminal charges on some violators.

Under the banner of tightening election security, lawmakers want to create a new election bureaucracy, make it a crime to misplace a ballot and ban most drive-up voting.

It’s no surprise that Arizona politicians are keen to change election laws in the state after a contentious presidential election and partisan audit.

While it’s unlikely that all the bills — or any — would make it out of committee, here is what the legislature will start considering on Monday. About 1,900 bills were filed in the Arizona House and Senate in 2021 during the regular session and 446 were signed into law, or about 23.4% of bills became law last year.

Arizona isn’t alone in the flurry of election-related legislation, there were 3,676 bills related to election law in state legislatures nationwide in 2021, the highest since the National Conference of State Legislatures began tracking the metric in 2001. But 285 bills across 42 states and two U.S. territories beca

click to enlarge Republican State Senator Wendy Rogers - ARIZONA LEGISLATURE

Republican State Senator Wendy Rogers

Arizona Legislature

me law last year.

In Arizona, State Senator Wendy Rogers, who represents rural Coconino, Yavapai, Navajo, and Gila counties in District 6, wants to set aside $5 million to stand up a new state governmental entity, a Bureau of Elections through SB 1027. The sole purpose of this bureau would be to investigate any allegations of fraud in local, county, or state elections.

Rogers is also stumping to make primary and general election days paid holidays for all workers in Arizona. Some argue SB 1043 could increase voter participation.

At the same time, with SB 1085 she wants to prohibit any drive-up voting process for everyone who is not disabled and protected by the federal Americans with Disabilities Act law for reasonable accommodations. Progressive election officials have pushed back already.

“If you were wondering whether or not the attack on voting rights was over in AZ, it’s not. They want us to ask people for proof of disability for drive-up voting and limit drop boxes,” said Pima County Recorder Gabriella Cázares-Kelly on Twitter. “Not only is it impractical to ask voters to disclose their disability status, it is reprehensible and unacceptable to do so.”

Employers are not allowed to ask individuals if they are disabled according to the Americans with Disabilities Act, so it seems unlikely that ballot box volunteers would be legally permitted to do so.

Special paper stock is another popular election reform among Republicans. Senator Rogers’ bill, SB 1028, would require contractors to sell paper ballots with watermarked, holographic designs with thermochromic or photochromic inks with stealth numbering in ultraviolet, infrared, or taggant inks with a unique bar code that tracks the ballot through the whole process. The cost for such a paper was not disclosed in the bill.

State Representatives Walter Blackman, Joesph Chaplik, Mark Finchem, Quang Nguyen, and Arizona Senator Sonny Borrelli proposed a similar bill, HB 2041. It would require paper ballots to have holographic foil and many other measures like ultraviolet microtext to prevent potential ballot tampering.

click to enlarge Arizona State Representative Mark Finchem - GAGE SKIDMORE/FLICKR

Arizona State Representative Mark Finchem

Gage Skidmore/Flickr

A cohort of Republicans wants to see all voter ballots once cast during an election to become public records with digital images searchable online in HB 2023. The group is led by Finchem, but co-signed by Judy Burges, Lupe Diaz, Tim Dunn, John Fillmore, John Kavanagh, Kevin Payne alongside Senate Presidenti Karen Fann, along with Borrelli and Vince Leach. Voting registration records are already public records such as Democrat or Republican, addresses, and phone numbers. But the votes themselves are not public records.

State Republican Senator Michelle Ugenti-Rita proposed SB 1008 to change the margin of victory for a recount during an election from one-tenth of one percent (or 200 votes or fewer) to one-half of one percent of the total votes for the two most popular candidates. During the 2020 presidential election, Joe Biden won 49.4 percent of the vote and Donald Trump won 49.1 percent of the vote, a difference of 0.3 percent, or 10,457 votes.

click to enlarge Arizona Senator Michelle Ugenti-Rita - ACTV

Arizona Senator Michelle Ugenti-Rita

ACTV

Republican State Senator Kelly Townsend, who represents District 16, spanning from Apache Junction in Maricopa County to just over the Pinal County line, filed several bills to change the election process.

click to enlarge Republican State Senator Kelly Townsend - ARIZONA LEGISLATURE

Republican State Senator Kelly Townsend

Arizona Legislature

With SB 1012 , she wants to mandate the Arizona Secretary of State’s office to provide access to a statewide voter registration database during any election integrity audit. She would, with SB 1054, designate a committee to review election equipment security and deliver post-election reports to the legislature.

Townsend also wants to penalize any contractors who fail to perform on election-related contracts to face misdemeanor charges on top of monetary damages with SB 1055. Meanwhile, anyone who misplaced a voter’s ballot could face misdemeanor charges in SB 1056. If that ballot is misplaced and can’t be counted in that election, the voter can file an action for damages against the election administers for the loss of their right to vote. 

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