Arizona GOP Makes ‘Full-Scale Assault’ On Voting Rights After Losses
Several voting rights groups in Arizona warn that a number of bills proposed by the state’s GOP lawmakers will severely restrict voting access.
An initial bill planned to strike several thousand voters from Arizona’s early voting list was shelved in the Senate on Tuesday, but activists and experts warn the bill is the first of many from the GOP.
After suffering losses in the 2020 election, Arizona’s GOP went on the offensive to maintain their, now very slim, margin in the state’s legislature. Arizona Republicans are currently debating bills to invalidate early voting requests from people without an outstanding medical reason, fortify state voter ID laws, increase roadblocks to requesting absentee ballots, require notarization for mail-in ballots and force voters to return mail-in ballots in-person.
“We are looking at dozens and dozens of bills that put barriers in the way of voters, that undermine the vote by mail system, that would gut the grassroots ballot initiative process and criminalize protests. It’s a full-scale assault on democratic norms, ideals and institutions,” said Emily Kirkland from Progress Arizona on Tuesday. Kirkland was addressing a conference call of advocates from Stand Up America.
“It’s a really urgent situation,” Kirkland warned “It feels like a five-alarm fire.”
Kirkland’s comments are echoed by Randy Perez, democracy director for LUCHA Arizona, another state advocacy group. “The growing power of communities of color and our willingness to turn out in elections for the past 10 years, especially here in Arizona, is being met with such resistance, blatant white supremacy, and just a naked attempt to hold on to power by the majority party at our state legislature.”
Perez’s statement reflects that the barriers Arizona’s GOP lawmakers hope to implement will disproportionately affect communities of color. A 2018 poll from Public Religion Research Institute and The Atlantic found that black and Hispanic voters in the 2016 election were three times more likely to not have the proper ID restrictive laws like Arizona’s would require.
Automatic voter purges like the one Arizona’s GOP is debating also have a strong racial bias. In the 2020 presidential election, Georgia and Wisconsin were the center of GOP plans to purge thousands of voters from registration pools. Theodore Johnson, an expert from the Brennan Center for Justice, explained that since the 2013 Supreme Court decision to alter the Voting Rights Act allowing states to change their election laws without federal approval, voter record purges have occurred 40% more often.
Between 2014 and 2016, more than 16 million voters were purged from the rolls. The Brennan Center’s Kevin Morris wrote, “We found sustained higher purge rates in parts of the country that have a demonstrated history of discrimination in voting. If these formerly covered jurisdictions that reported their data each year had purged voters at rates consistent with the rest of the country … they would have purged 1.1 million fewer voters between 2016 and 2018.”