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Republicans rail against all-mail elections, but they vote by mail

In this March 10, 2020, file photo, a King County Election worker collects ballots from a drop box in Seattle for the primary election in Washington State, where elections are all mail. In Arizona, where voters can ask for a mail-in ballot, Democrats and some Republican election officials are calling for an all mail election, at least for this year as the coronavirus causes anxiety for face-to-face contact at the least and sickness and death at the worst. PHOTO BY JOHN FROSCHAUER/ASSOCIATED PRESS

In this March 10, 2020, file photo, a King County Election worker collects ballots from a drop box in Seattle for the primary election in Washington State, where elections are all mail. In Arizona, where voters can ask for a mail-in ballot, Democrats and some Republican election officials are calling for an all mail election, at least for this year as the coronavirus causes anxiety for face-to-face contact at the least and sickness and death at the worst. PHOTO BY JOHN FROSCHAUER/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Saying it is ripe for fraud, many Arizona Republican lawmakers oppose the idea of sending mail ballots to all voters during the COVID-19 crisis, but 79% of the GOP caucus opts for the U.S. Postal Service to deliver their vote.

According to public records, 72 legislators are currently registered onto the Permanent Early Voting List, or PEVL — 37 Republicans and 35 Democrats (one Republican’s voting record is sealed).

Lawmakers like Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, R-Scottsdale, Rep. Travis Grantham, R-Gilbert, Rep. Warren Petersen, R-Gilbert, Rep. Shawnna Bolick, R-Phoenix, and others have argued against election officials mailing all registered voters a ballot, even temporarily, saying either that it leads to voter fraud, or it disenfranchises voters by limiting their methods of voting.

Advocates for the switch argue that because there’s a pandemic that has already resulted in 27,000 deaths nationwide and 150 in Arizona, policymakers should send ballots to those who haven’t signed up for the PEVL to protect their health and safety while voting.

Election officials have also pointed out even if Arizona switches to an “all mail” election, they would still operate polling places to ensure everyone can vote.

Yavapai County Recorder Leslie Hoffman, a Republican, said polls in some precincts would still have to remain open for drop offs and ballot replacements.

Arizona already allows people to sign up for a mail ballot up to 11 days before an election, but Hoffman and others said that if you leave it up to voters to sign up, you’ll still have lines at the polls. April 15 was the unofficial deadline for the counties to plan for mail voting for the August primary, as election officials need to procure proper election materials. If the state wants to make the switch before the November election, policymakers will need to act by June 15, election officials say.

Some of the most ardent critics of universal voting by mail already receive their ballots in the mail, according to records from the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office.

Senate President Karen Fann, who has pledged that the Senate won’t take up any efforts to send ballots to all voters, gets her ballot in the mail.

Sen. Sine Kerr, R-Buckeye, who tweeted about how mail ballots are insecure, citing her husband’s alleged find of dozens of early ballots in 2019, apparently isn’t worried about hers getting lost on a rural highway – she gets her ballot in the mail. 

Sen. Vince Leach, R-Tucson, who recently shared a Breitbart story about 16 million mail ballots going missing and warned that mail voting “invites” voter fraud and could lead to millions of ineligible voters casting votes, votes by mail. And so does Sen. David Farnsworth, R-Mesa, who warned back in 2019 that mail ballots are a progressive idea that leads to fraud

Petersen, who warned recently that universal mail voting would lead to “universal ballot harvesting,” gets his ballot via mail and encouraged voters to use mail ballots to elect him back in 2016.  Ballot harvesting is a practice in which a voter with a mail-in ballot gives it to someone else to deliver to a polling station. Some political and community groups have made it a practice to go door to door, especially in neighborhoods where they thought sentiment would run in their direction, offering to take unmailed ballots to polling places. 

Arizona has outlawed the practice, but the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found the ban on ballot harvesting unconstitutional. 

Rep. Mark Finchem, R-Oro Valley,  who warned that “forcing” voters to vote by mail would lead to more ballot harvesting, also gets a mail ballot. Grantham, who told Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes that we should “stick to the constitution and rule of law” and not send ballots to all voters and that mail ballots make it “easier to cheat”, previously urged mail voters to support him and he gets his ballot in the mail. 

Rep. Leo Biasiucci, R-Lake Havasu City, who repeated President Donald Trump’s claim that mail ballots lead to corruption, votes by mail. 

And then there’s Rep. Bret Roberts, R-Maricopa, who called mail voting a “horrendously bad election integrity killing idea,” is living his ideals. He announced recently that he decided he will no longer vote by mail, and removed himself from the PEVL.

Though there are 90 total lawmakers in the state, only 89 of them appeared on the Secretary of State’s database, likely because one petitioned the court to keep her voting file secret. There may not be any way to find out if Bolick – who has been one of the harshest critics of all voters receiving their ballot through mail, and who penned two op-eds about how voting by mail is rife for fraud, which state election officials contend was riddled with inaccuracies – votes by mail herself.

That’s likely because she is married to Supreme Court Justice Clint Bolick.

State statute says any voter registered at the same residence as an “eligible person” may request that the general public be prohibited from accessing their personal information, such as their address, voting history and registration. Justices, judges (current or former), peace officers, and others are
eligible.

A spokeswoman for the court confirmed that that information is not a public record and therefore cannot be disclosed.

Bolick did not return a call for comment and Clint Bolick declined to comment on how he submits his ballot.

This battle extends beyond the Legislature to Gov. Doug Ducey, who on April 14 after a press conference on his latest actions in response to the coronavirus crisis, made it clear he’s not in favor of universal mail-in voting either.

“We’re not going to disenfranchise anyone from voting on Election Day,” said Ducey, who’s on PEVL. “We’re going to have more availability to vote, not less.”

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