By EJ Montini, The Arizona Republic
Only in Arizona would repealing a voter suppression law be an act of voter suppression. But that’s what is happening. Last year the Arizona Legislature passed House Bill 2305, a wickedly broad piece of voter-suppression legislation that they hoped no one would notice. But they did.
In response a coalition of citizens groups got together and collected enough signatures to put HB2305 on the November ballot for everyone in Arizona to decide whether the law should stand. Now, lawmakers want to make an end run around voters again.
They plan to repeal the old law, leaving them the option of reintroducing it piece by piece. At least that’s how it looks. Organizers of the petition drive have been trying to get legislators to promise they will not bring back elements of HB2305 in other bills. So representatives of the groups that collected the signatures gathered at the State Capitol on Monday in an effort to draw attention to what lawmakers are planning (Or is plotting a better word?). They went there to confront the suppressors.
Back when HB2305 passed, Barry Hess of the Libertarian Party told me, “It’s unbelievable. It’s bizarre. These people (the Republican legislators) don’t seem to understand that to win by exclusion isn’t to win. It’s to cheat. It’s a lack of character.” The Protect Your Right To Vote Committee collected well over 100,000 petition signatures. They set out the boxes on the Capitol lawn Monday.
When lawmakers made their move to repeal the law and deny citizens their right to vote, Julie Erfle, chairwoman of the Protect Your Right to Vote Committee, told me, “We are not shocked by their tactics. We thought they would try to mess with it somehow. Clearly, legislators realize that HB 2305 was not popular and would most likely be overturned. Unfortunately, that doesn’t appear to have stopped them from making another attempt at doing exactly what the voters don’t want them to do: Take away our vote.”
But they are. The only way voters can guarantee it never happens again is to note of every politician who goes along with the scheme and, when those names appear next on the ballot box, suppress their re-election.
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