Lawmakers are rushing to undo a controversial package of elections-law changes they approved last year in a move that has implications for this fall’s election. On a party-line vote Thursday, the House of Representatives approved House Bill 2196. If it is signed into law, the legislationwould derail a citizen referendum on the November ballot because the repeal would do away with the objectionable law. Republicans, who supported the bill, said they are heeding the will of the voters who pushed the initiative to repeal last session’s changes. But referendum backers want the matter on the ballot, where they believe voters will reject the changes. They don’t trust the Legislature to leave the matter alone and fear GOP lawmakers will introduce pieces of last year’s package, doing an end-run around their objections to the changes. “We have significant trust issues when it comes to this bill,” said Rep. Ruben Gallego, the assistant House minority leader.
The subject of the controversy is last year’s HB2305. It included numerous changes to elections procedures, ranging from tighter requirements on citizen initiatives to dropping voters from the permanent early-voting list if they do not vote in two consecutive primary and general elections.
Supporters said the changes are needed to make elections run more smoothly; opponents charged it was voter suppression, pointing to the early-voting list “cleanup” and tougher requirements for third-party candidates to qualify for the ballot.
Lawmakers approved the bill in a late-night vote during the closing hours of the 2013 legislative session; soon after, a coalition of citizen groups and labor unions circulated petitions to put the new law on hold until voters could decide its fate in this November’s general election.
Full Article: Arizona House approves bill to repeal election-law changes.