The Arizona Senate revived an election omnibus bill Thursday that could limit early voting participation after Republican leaders pressured their caucus to pass the measure in the final hours of the 2013 legislative session. The legislation backed by state and local election officials seeks to trim the state’s permanent early voting list and limit who may return mail ballots for voters. Opponents portrayed the bill as a thinly-veiled effort to curb Democratic and Hispanic voter turnout. The 16-13 vote came after the Senate initially voted against the bill late Thursday. Republican Sen. Steve Pierce changed his vote and helped the measure pass when it was brought back for reconsideration. The House voted 33-26 earlier on Thursday to advance House Bill 2305. Republican Gov. Jan Brewer would not say on Thursday whether she would sign the measure into law.
Senate President Andy Biggs gave a passionate speech urging opponents to reconsider when it became clear the measure would not pass during the first vote.
“This particular bill, this critical bill, it does a variety of things and it actually is supported by every county recorder in the state,” Biggs said. “It’s supported by multiple groups that are interested in elections that have to deal with the ramifications of what we do. This bill is truly one of the most important bills that we are going to vote on in this legislative session.”
… Sen. Steve Gallardo of Phoenix accused Republicans of allowing partisanship to trump good policy. “The votes we are seeing up on the board have nothing to do with policy,” he said. “It’s not about what’s in the best interest of Arizona.”
Under the bill, election officials would be able to remove voters from the permanent early voting list if they didn’t vote by mail in the two most recent general elections. Voters could stay on the list if they returned a completed notice within 30 days confirming their intent to vote by mail in the future. Elected officials proposed the change because too many voters were showing up at local precinct places to vote after receiving mail ballots, fueling accusations of voter fraud.
Full Article: Arizona Senate passes election overhaul bill.