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Election reform bills pass Senate

Sen. Michele Reagan, R-Scottsdale, chairs the Senate Election Committee. (Cronkite News Service Photo by AJ Vicens)

Three election-reform bills cleared the Arizona Senate, sending Sen. Michele Reagan’s trio of bills to the House despite objections from Democrats that the bills would infringe on voter rights and undo years of get-out-the vote efforts by activist groups.

Reagan’s bills were approved by senators on 16-12 party line votes Monday afternoon, and would make sweeping changes to the elections process. SB1003 would allow only members of a family or household to turn in one another’s mail in ballots.

SB 1261 would purge the Permanent Early Voting List – a headache-inducing list for county recorders in the most recent election – of anyone who doesn’t use early the ballots to vote in two consecutive election cycles and also fails to re-opt into the program when prompted by the state.

And SB1264 would invalidate signatures collected on petition drives from out-of-state circulators who aren’t registered with the Secretary of State. Paid out-of-state circulators would still be allowed to work on recall petitions, but they would have to make their residency clear to people they collect signatures from.

Reagan, R-Scottsdale, guided each bill through the Senate Elections Committee, which she’s chairing in the committee’s first year.

While acknowledging Reagan’s attempts to address concerns that arose from the 2012 election cycle, Democrats voted against each bill, arguing that some of the measures would make it harder for some in the state to vote.

House Minority Leader Leah Landrum Taylor, D-Phoenix, said Arizona’s early voting programs have given the state’s minority population a greater voice. “But current legislation making its way through the legislature make it much harder to vote using an early ballot,” she said in a statement. “We agree that we must take steps to streamline how our votes are counted, but those steps cannot come at the expense of anyone’s ability to vote.”

 

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