PHOENIX – State, County and City elected officials, civic engagement groups and community leaders gathered Monday morning at the Arizona State Capitol to call for an end to ballot blocking bills and focus on passing needed legislation, namely Automatic Voter Registration. Led by Samantha Pstross, incoming Executive Director for the Arizona Advocacy Network and the League of Women Voters Arizona, the coalition demanded real solutions for making Arizona’s elections secure and accessible to all voters regardless of party affiliation.
Ballot blocking House Bill 2023, sponsored by Michelle Ugenti Rita, does nothing but criminalize election volunteers, making them a class 6 felon, punishable by up to one year of jail time and a fine of $150,000.
“HB2023 is a solution needing a problem that does not exist,” said Shirley Sandelands, President of the League of Women Voters of Arizona.
Representative Ken Clark stated, “Make no mistake. This [HB2023] is a ballot-blocking bill that will hurt the elderly and the home-bound voters in Arizona.”
Positive solutions like Automatic Voter Registration would modernize the voting system, strengthen security, increase accuracy and protect the fundamental right of every American to participate in our democracy. Democratic legislators have already introduced several bills that make voting more secure. The bills include HB 2097, SB 1007, SB1392 and HB 1260.
“We’re here today to focus on safe and secure voting measures for our modern society. Automatic Voter Registration would register eligible citizens to vote when they get their driver’s license. Automatic Voter Registration restores security, accessibility and accuracy to our elections,” Pstross said.
Senator Martin Quezada has introduced legislation proposing to modernize Arizona elections with Automatic Voter Registration. "It’s time for Arizona to focus on real solutions that upgrade the voting system to ensure all eligible votes are counted and that nobody votes who isn’t eligible. My bill SB1392 and other Automatic Voter Registration bills would do just that." Quezada said.
Steve Gallardo, Maricopa County Board Supervisor agreed, saying, “Arizona needs monumental changes to our election process to enable and encourage more Arizonans to exercise their constitutional rights; not frivolous legislation that is aimed at reducing participation in our democracy.”
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton echoed these messages. “Bills like HB 2023 are about politicians wanting to pick their voters instead of voters picking their politicians. Instead of erecting roadblocks to voting, we need to explore ideas like Automatic Voter Registration that would make our voting more secure, more modern and would make sure all eligible votes are counted,” Stanton said.
About AZAN: Arizona Advocacy Network works for electoral justice, political rights and full civic participation to achieve government of, by and for the People. Our work includes: strengthening Arizona's Clean Elections system; advocating for full, immediate disclosure of all campaign contributions; promoting anti-corruption and conflict of interest laws including gift bans; guarding voting rights, voter registration and election integrity; defending Arizona’s judicial merit selection system, and protecting Arizona's ballot initiative and referendum processes. Learn more at www.AZadvocacy.org.