On the heels of a contentious 2020 General Election, Republicans in the Arizona State Legislature have introduced a flurry of proposed bills in both the State Senate and House of Representatives aimed at various tweeks to the state’s election rules.
As of Friday, six election-related bills had been introduced into the State Senate and another two bills in the House. But there is still plenty of time for more bills to be introduced in the coming weeks.
So far all election-related bills have been introduced by Republicans.
Remove deceased from voter logs
According to state statute, each month the department of health services sends records of all residents who have died to the secretary of state who uses those records to cancel the voter registration of those who have died.
Statute goes on to require the department of health services to provide the names of all deceased persons annually. State law currently says the secretary of state may compare those annual records to the state voter registration database.
But District 15 Rep. Steve Kaiser has introduced a bill that would make the annual comparison mandatory - meaning the names of everyone who has died will be cross referenced with the voter registration database each year in addition to the monthly updates. Kaiser’s bill, HB 2054 has three co-sponsors in the house of representatives including District 5 Rep. Regina Cobb, and one co-sponsor in the senate.
District 14 Rep. Gail Griffin is hoping to amend an existing state law that currently requires at least 2% of precincts undergo a hand recount prior to election results being certified. But HB 2039 would increase that to at least 5% of precincts or 5 precincts - whichever is greater.
Griffin’s proposed bill also stipulates that a voting center is deemed to be a precinct for hand counting purposes.
Early voting signatures
For early ballots, Arizona election law stipulates that the envelope the ballot is returned in must be signed by the voter. District 23 Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita of Scottsdale has introduced SB 1003 which proposes that if an early ballot is not signed, the voter must correct the ballot no later than 7 p.m. on election day.
Currently, Arizona law allows voters five business days after the election to correct their ballot if the county recorder determines the signature on the envelope is inconsistent with the signature on record.
Instructions and procedures manual
Arizona already has a process to review the official election instructions and procedures manual which is updated every two years. According to state statute the governor and the attorney general are currently responsible for approving the manual. But Ugenti-Rita’s proposed SB 1068 would give final approval to the legislative council and the governor’s regulatory review council instead.
District 16 Sen. Kelly Townsend is seeking to extend the amount of time an elector has to contest a state election after the election has been canvassed and declared by the secretary of state or governor. The current deadline is within five days of the results being declared. Townsend’s SB 172 would extend that deadline to 30 days.
No more Sharpies
Townsend’s proposed SB 1023, takes aim at what voters use to mark their ballots after questions were raised about the use of Sharpies during the 2020 election.
The bill would bar a board of supervisors from requiring a specific marking pen on paper ballots. It would also keep supervisors from providing any pen that creates marks visible on the reverse side of the ballot, or a pen that would damage or spoil the ballot.
In the event of an overvote or irregularity with a ballot, Townsend’s proposed SB 1025 would require the voter to be notified of the consequences of submitting that ballot. The proposed bill adds a stipulation into election law that requires the election official to tell the voter that if they choose to override a detected overvote when submitting their ballot, their vote for that office or measure will not be counted.
Study voting systems
Townsend’s SB 1036 would establish a joint study committee to examine voting systems technology and best practices. The bill proposes a 13-person committee, to be appointed by majority leaders in the House and the Senate, and one appointee by the governor.
The committee would have until June 30, 2022 to submit a report of its findings and recommendations.