Arizonans can all agree: it should be easy to vote but hard to cheat.
The Arizona Legislature has heard dozens of bills this session that are intended to renew trust in our elections by ensuring that every legal vote counts. This week, it is important for them to consider SB1713 and SB1485 to secure our early voting system. Arizonans support these measures, and our legislators should continue working with Gov. Ducey to secure our elections.
These reforms aren’t new and shouldn’t be controversial. In 2005, the bipartisan Carter-Baker Commission Report on Federal Election Reform was written for an American people who were losing confidence in the election system. We now face a crisis of confidence: most Americans believe either the 2016 or 2020 presidential election results were illegitimate. Today the report’s words of warning ring true: “If elections are defective, the entire democratic system is at risk.”
That’s why it’s so imperative to strengthen our elections and restore trust in their results. The Arizona Legislature is doing just that. The Carter-Baker commission noted that, “Absentee ballots remain the largest source of potential voter fraud.” To head off that potential, legislators are pushing several smart measures to secure our mail-in early voting system.
SB1713 would be a step in the right direction. This bill would require a form of voter ID for mail-in voting to make early voting more transparent and secure. This simple provision would help bring early voting requirements in line with in-person voting requirements and the Carter-Baker recommendation of voter ID for absentee voting.
Early voting still needs improvement, though, and SB1485 would get the job done. This piece of legislation would improve our Early Voter List by only sending ballots in the mail to those who are likely to return them. When a voter chooses not to use their early ballot in four consecutive elections (two primaries and two general elections), the voter will be notified and will have the option to confirm that they would like to stay on the Early Voter List. This is common sense — sending ballots to those who don’t use them wastes taxpayer resources while increasing the potential for abuse.
The Legislature has already seen success in passing bipartisan and common-sense election bills this year, such as HB2054. Gov. Doug Ducey recently signed this reform into law, which had overwhelming and bipartisan support — only one legislator voted against it. This common–sense measure now mandates the secretary of state compare death records with voter registrations and remove deceased voters. This new law serves as a reminder that secure elections are not a partisan issue.
Another important bill to tighten election laws and protect our system from vulnerabilities is HB2569, which Ducey signed into law on April 9. This law will prevent private groups from giving money to fund Arizona election operations, removing the corrupting influence of outside money from our election.
The law solves an urgent problem: In 2020, Arizona received $4.8 million in grants from a nonprofit group to ostensibly fund election operations. But the Foundation for Government Accountability found these funds disproportionately increased voter turnout on the left. All Americans ought to be in agreement that whether it’s foreign governments or private interests, our elections will not be bought.
Opponents falsely assert that election integrity bills to fix Arizona’s mail-in ballot system are an example of “voter suppression,” but nothing could be further from the truth. When voters trust elections, more will turn out to vote. Sixty-nine percent of Arizona voters support a photo ID requirement before casting a vote, for example. Voters know that every fraudulent vote negates a legally cast vote, robbing a citizen of their voice. An election system susceptible to fraud, or even suspicions of fraud, erodes the integrity of our elections, and allows fraudulent votes to be counted — that is the true voter suppression.
Reforms like these being protect the right to vote of all eligible Arizonans. Now is the time for the Legislature to act, as they have already done with HB2054 and HB2569, to restore confidence in our elections. The Legislature and governor should swiftly embrace SB1713 and SB1485, so that regardless of which side wins in our state, Arizonans will have confidence in our elections.
Jessica Anderson is executive director of Heritage Action for America. Nathan Duell is the Western regional coordinator for Heritage Action and a lifelong Arizonan.