Saying it will maintain election integrity, Gov. Doug Ducey on Wednesday signed legislation to make felons out of those who collect the ballots of others to bring them to the polls. HB2023, which takes effect later this year, will allow judges to impose a presumptive one-year prison term and potential $150,000 fine for the current practice by civic and political groups of going out to see if people remembered to return the early ballots they had requested by mail. Ducey’s signature came just hours after the measure gained final Senate approval on a party-line vote. And it came moments after state Republican Party Chairman issued a statement saying the change “restores the public’s respect for a process that had potentially dangerous implications and provided too much opportunity for fraud and tampering with an election.”
The governor’s own prepared comment echoed that sentiment. “This bill ensures a secure chain of custody between the voter and the ballot box,” Ducey said. “We join 18 other states in this common-sense approach to maintaining the integrity of our elections.”
The partisan nature of the measure did not go unnoticed and uncommented.
Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, said there has never been a documented case of anyone actually picking up someone else’s ballot and then failing to deliver it. “The problem we’re solving is that one party is better at collecting ballots than the other one,” he said. “The other one tried and they failed,” Farley continued. “And, therefore, it’s time to change the rules.”