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Romero: Voting bills would disenfranchise Arizonans

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Romero: Voting bills would disenfranchise Arizonans

'This is not the first time our Legislature has entertained legislation that attacks the civil rights of communities of color.'

Tucson Mayor Regina Romero sent a letter Thursday to Gov. Doug Ducey leaders in the state House and Senate, about legislation that would change Arizona election laws:

  • The Honorable Gov. Doug Ducey
  • Honorable Senate President, Sen. Karen Fann
  • Honorable Minority Leader, Sen. Rebecca Rios
  • Honorable Speaker of the House, Rep. Rusty Bowers
  • Honorable Minority Leader, Rep. Reginald Bolding

Dear State Leaders:

I write to you today to express my strong opposition to SB 1713, SB 1485, and SB1106. While these bills vary in their substance, they all would have the same result of disenfranchising voters from our most fundamental democratic institution: our elections.

SB1713 imposes burdensome documentation requirements on voters, disproportionately harming low-income Arizonans and seniors. One in five Arizonans over the age of 70 lack access to a driver’s license, which this bill effectively requires for early ballot affidavits if one does not know their voter registration number. SB1485 and SB1106 would make it easier for voters to be purged from the Permanent Early Voter List (PEVL), disproportionately affecting Arizonans living on reservations and communities of color.

Proponents of these bills argue that they are necessary for protecting election security yet are unable to cite any credible concerns about the security of our elections. Instead of making it more difficult to vote, we should be making it easier for Arizonans to participate in the democratic process. For example, in our local city elections, we mail every registered voter a ballot, regardless of whether they are signed up for PEVL.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time our state Legislature has entertained legislation that attacks the civil rights of communities of color. In 2010, our state Legislature passed the now infamous SB 1070, otherwise known as the “Show-Me-Your-Papers" law. This anti-immigrant legislation gave Arizona a black eye that we are still recovering from today both in terms of the damage it has cost our state’s reputation and the resulting economic consequences. The last thing we need is another black eye, which is exactly what we would get if these voter disenfranchisement bills are signed into law. We’ve seen the corporate blow back and boycotts underway in Georgia — let us learn from our peers and our history and not repeat the mistakes of the past.

In a recent opinion piece, Greater Phoenix Leadership Inc. writes that these bills “are ‘solutions’ in search of a problem. They are attempts at voter suppression cloaked as reform — plain and simple.” I could not agree more. I appeal to lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to carefully consider whether the proposed voter disenfranchisement bills truly serve the best interest of Arizonans, or whether they will promote voter suppression and inflict harm on our state’s reputation.

It is also my understanding that there may be forthcoming amendments to these pieces of legislation. Let’s be clear: voter suppression is voter suppression and no amendment can remedy this simple fact.

As Arizonans, all of us – Republicans, Democrats, and Independents – take pride in our American democracy and hold the right to vote as sacred. Thank you for your thoughtful consideration on this matter, and for your service to the residents of Arizona.

In community,

Tucson Mayor Regina Romero

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