Arizona Governor Signs Bill to Make Purging Inactive Voters Easier

The law allows election officials to purge voters from the mail-in ballot list if they skip two elections in a row, including local ones.

(Courthouse News photo / Brad Poole)

(CN) — Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed a bill Tuesday making it easier for election officials to purge voters who skip elections from a list of those who automatically receive mail-in ballots.

Arizona’s 4.3 million voters can choose to automatically get mail-in ballots, which they can use for any reason, for each election. The new law changes the name of the Permanent Early Voting List to Active Early Voting List and requires voters to opt in to the list if they miss two consecutive elections, including local ones.

Voters will be removed from the list if they do not opt in after a postcard from the state. Ducey released a statement calling the measure good policy that will strengthen Arizona’s election system.

“Others have suggested that ‘now is not the time’ for election reform,” the Republican governor said. “I could not disagree more. The politics of the moment should not impede good policy, and SB 1485 is a measure that ensures our voter lists remain verified and accurate, will free up resources for local election officials, and strengthen trust among citizens in our election system.”

Trust in elections is flagging among Arizona’s Republican leaders.

The GOP-controlled state Senate is weeks into a months-long external audit of more than 2 million ballots from Arizona’s most populous county, Maricopa, home to Phoenix. President Joe Biden won Arizona by slightly more than 10,000 votes, surprising many with a win in heavily Republican Maricopa County.

The state Senate ordered the audit after two internal audits, including a hand recount, found 100% accuracy. The Senate then hired Cyber Ninjas, a Florida internet security firm with no election experience, to conduct the audit.

The hand count has included examining ballots with ultraviolet light for undisclosed reasons and checking ballots for bamboo after a rumor that counterfeit ballots from China were injected into the election. The GOP-controlled Maricopa County Board of Supervisors fought the audit in court, deeming it a waste of money and time, but a judge forced them to turn the ballots over.

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat who has criticized the Cyber Ninja audit, disagreed with the governor via Twitter. Last week, Ducey authorized state police protection for Hobbs because of death threats she got after she criticized the audit.

“This is a mistake that will undermine our elections, not strengthen them,” Hobbs tweeted.

Also via Twitter, the state Democratic Party offered a simple reaction.

“The GOP is the party of voter suppression,” the Democratic Party account tweeted.

In a joint statement, Arizona Democratic Party chair Raquel Terán and state Senator Rebecca Rios, who chairs Arizona Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, noted 80% of Arizonans vote by mail and called the bill “retaliation by Republicans for losing the 2020 elections at the top of the ticket.”

“After admitting that our elections were secure, Governor Ducey could not wait to sign this bill to satisfy far-right radicals who believe conspiracy theories over facts. Instead of listening to the independent-minded voters of our state, the AZGOP is cutting out the voters who challenge their fringe agenda,” the women said in the statement.

“Instead of leading, Ducey and the AZGOP handed their party over to conspiracy theorists.”

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