Voter’s Rights

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The League of Women Voters of Arizona, in cooperation with Arizona State University, is holding a Voters’ Rights Summit January 7. The summit will focus on removing barriers to the ballot box. League of Women Voters board member Rivko Knox and Carol Mattoon, the chair of the League’s Summit Planning Committee, will discuss the summit and voters’ rights and barriers to those rights.

TED SIMONS:THE LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS OF ARIZONA, IN COOPERATION WITH ASU, IS HOLDING A VOTERS' RIGHTS SUMMIT ON JANUARY 7TH. THE EVENT WILL FOCUS ON REMOVING BARRIERS AT THE BALLOT BOX. HERE TO DISCUSS THE SUMMIT AND THE PROTECTION OF VOTERS RIGHTS, IS LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS BOARD MEMBER RIVKO KNOX AND CAROL MATTOON, THE CHAIR OF THE LEAGUE'S SUMMIT PLANNING COMMITTEE. GOOD TO HAVE YOU BOTH HERE.THANKS FOR JOINING US.THIS SUMMIT, A VOTING RIGHT'S SUMMIT. WHAT ARE WE TALKING ABOUT?

KNOX: WE HAVE SEEN IN THE LAST FEW YEARS A NUMBER OF MOVES ACROSS THE COUNTRY AND HERE IN ARIZONA TO CURTAIL VOTERS RIGHTS IN ALL KINDS OF WAYS. NATIONWIDE WE KNOW THERE WAS SOMETHING CALLED SECTION 5 OF THE VOTER RIGHT ACT AND THAT'S BEEN OVERTURNED SO THE STATES CAN NOW, INCLUDING ARIZONA, CHANGE VOTING PROCEDURES, MANY OF WHICH HAVE NEGATIVE EFFECTS AND CURTAIL VOTERS ABILITY TO VOTE, TO REGISTER AND TO VOTE.

TED SIMONS: SO THE SUMMIT IS DISCIPLED TO REMOVE BARE YOURS TO THE BALLOT BOX. WHAT ARE THE BARRIERS?
MATOON: THE SUMMIT IS TO PULL OF A VARIETY OF PEOPLE TOGETHER. WE ARE GOING TO HAVE TEN SPEAKERS TALKING ON A VARIETY OF ISSUES. WE THOUGHT IN THE BEGINNING THAT WE WOULD TAKE ONE ISSUE AND LOOK AT IT DEEPLY, BUT THERE ARE SO MANY FACETS, WE THOUGHT IT WOULD BE BETTER TO EDUCATE PEOPLE ON THE DIFFERENT AREAS OF WHAT WE ARE LOOKING AT. WE HAVE TEN SPEAKERS THAT ARE EXPERTS COME IN AND BREAK OUT GROUPS. ITS NOT JUST FOR PEOPLE TO COME AND HEAR PEOPLE SPEAK. BECAUSE WE ARE TRYING TO INVITE EDUCATORS AND LEGISLATORS AND ALL -- GROUPS INTERESTED IN THIS KIND OF STUFF, COMING TOGETHER THAT HAVE A LOT OF EXPERIENCES AND LOOK AT THE ISSUE DIFFERENTLY SO WE CAN SEE WE HAVE PEOPLE RUNNING ELECTIONS AND PEOPLE WANTING TO VOTE. WE ARE LOOKING AT DIFFERENT ASPECTS OF THAT. WE WANT THE DISCUSSION TO GO ON SO AS WE SEE THE BARRIERS WE CAN LIST, WE HAVE DIFFERENT INPUT. WE CAN COME TOGETHER AND LOOK AT THE LONG TERM WAY OF HOW CAN WE MAKE IT EASILY ACCESSIBLE, EFFICIENT AND OPEN TO EVERYBODY. WE DON'T WANT TO LEAVE ANY VOTER OR VOTES BEHIND.

TED SIMONS: AS FAR AS THE BARRIERS, WHAT BARRIERS ARE OUT THERE?

KNOX: THERE ARE ALL KINDS OF BARRIER. FOR EXAMPLE, PEOPLE HAVE TO HAVE THE CORRECT I.D. TO VOTE. THE LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS DOES NOT SUPPORT VOTER I.D. THERE IS NO SIGNIFICANT INSTANCE OF VOTER FRAUD. THERE ARE BARRIERS YOU HAVE TO REGISTER FOR EXAMPLE 30 DAYS BEFORE. UNLIKE SOMEONE LIKE ME INVOLVED CONSTANTLY, A LOT OF PEOPLE DON'T PAY ATTENTION UNTIL CLOSE TO THE ELECTION. THEY CAN'T VOTE. THERE ARE FOR EXAMPLE, IN THE PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARIES THERE WERE NOT ENOUGH POLLING PLACES. THERE WERE VERY LONG LINES. WHEN PEOPLE STOOD IN LINE, ESPECIALLY WITH DISABILITIES, THERE WAS NO PLACE TO SIT. WE HAVE SITUATIONS IN WHICH THE VOTING PLACES ARE NOT ACCESSIBLE TO PEOPLE THAT DON'T HAVE CARS. THERE ARE A NUMBER OF DIFFERENT BARRIERS.

TED SIMONS: YET, AT THE SUMMIT YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO HAVE PEOPLE FROM DIFFERENT ANGLES. WILL YOU HAVE PEOPLE AT THE ANGLE THAT SAY NEED VOTER I.D.THE REASON IS BECAUSE WE ARE VIGILANT WE DON'T WANT FRAUD TO CREEP IN. ARE YOU HAVING THOSE PEOPLE SPEAKING AS WELL?

MATOON: WE ARE GOING TO HAVE A VARIETY OF SPEAKERS. WE HAVE THE SECRETARY OF STATE OFFICE THERE, WE HAVE THE FEDERAL COMPLIANCE OFFICER THERE, A POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR, AN ELECTION LAW ATTORNEY. BECAUSE THE LEAGUE IS NONPARTISAN, WE WANT THIS TO BE AN OPEN CONVERSATION WHERE EVERYONE HAS A POINT OF VIEW.

TED SIMONS: I THINK THE DEFINITION OF A BARRIER IN PLACE WOULD BE THE FIRST STEP. SOME PEOPLE DON'T SEE THOSE AS BARRIERS.

KNOX: WE ARE OPEN TO HEARING THAT AS WELL. WE HAVE INVITED ALL OF THE STATE LEGISLATORS. WE ARE ENCOURAGING OTHER ELECTED OFFICIALS TO COME. WE WOULD LIKE TO HEAR DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES.


TED SIMONS: AS FAR AS VOTING FORMATS, ALTERNATIVES TO THE CURRENT VOTING FORMAT, WHAT IS OUT THERE? WHAT CAN BE DISCUSSED?

KNOX: THERE IS SOMETHING CALLED RANK CHOICE VOTING, WHERE WE'RE TALKING ABOUT DIFFERNT WHERE RIGHT NOW YOU VOTE FOR ONE PERSON AND THEN IN THE PRIMARY, AND THEN THERE IS THE GENERAL ELECTION. IN RANK CHOICE VOTING, YOU HAVE FOUR OR FIVE NAMES ON THE BALLOT.YOU IDENTIFY THE TOP CHOICE, SECOND, THROUGH FOURTH ETC. THERE IS ONE ELECTION. CANDIDATES HAVE TO APPEAL TO A BROADER RANGE OF PEOPLE. THEY KNOW THEY MIGHT BE THE VOTERS FIRST CHOICE, THEY MIGHT BE THE SECOND. THERE ARE EXAMPLES LIKE THAT AS A DIFFERENT ALTERNATIVE TO VOTING. THERE IS SAME DAY REGISTRATION AND VOTING WHICH IS A DIFFERENT APPROACH. ARIZONA IS PRETTY GOOD ABOUT DOING ONLINE VOTING WHERE YOU REGISTER ONLINE. SOME STATES ARE GOING TO ALL ONLINE VOTING.
TED SIMONS: ARE THERE MECHANISMS IN PLACE TO FACILITATE THESE KINDS OF CHANGES?
MATOON: THESE CHANGES ARE TAKING PLACE IN COLLEGES, IN OTHER COUNTRIES. IT'S NOT LIKE WE ARE INVENTING THE WHEEL. YES, THERE ARE MECHANISMS. THERE ARE GROUPS WORKING NATIONALLY AS WELL AS LOCALLY ON THESE ISSUES. IT'S THE WILL TO MAKE IT HAPPEN.

TED SIMONS: AS FAR AS THE FORUM ITSELF, WHAT DO YOU WANT FOLKS TO TAKE FROM THE EVENT?
MATOON: SO OFTEN YOU SEE PEOPLE COME TO THESE GREAT LECTURES AND THEY GO AWAY ENTHUSED, BUT NOTHING HAPPENS. SO WHAT WE'RE HOPING BECAUSE WE ARE WORKING TOGETHER, BRAINSTORMING SHORT TERM GOALS AND LONG TERM GOALS, SO WE ARE HOPING OUT OF THIS SUMMIT WILL COME A WORKING GROUP TO WORK ON THESE THINGS. AND BECAUSE YOU HAVE LEGISLATORS AND YOU HAVE A VARIETY OF PEOPLE, THE SOLUTIONS, YOU HAVE SOME OF THE PEOPLE BUYING INTO IT.THEY ARE THE ONES THAT ARE GOING TO HELP MAKE IT HAPPEN. WE DO HOPE THIS IS NOT GOING TO BE A ONE DAY EVENT, BUT OUT OF THIS, AT THE END OF THIS WE'LL COME TOGETHER AFTER SMALL GROUP DISCUSSIONS. PICK COUPLE OF THINGS WE WANT TO DO, AND WE HOPE PEOPLE WILL SIGN UP AND SAY, WE WANT TO WORK ON THIS ON A LONG TERM BASIS.WE DON'T WANT IT TO BE JUST A ONE DAY BASIS.
TED SIMONS: WHEN? WHERE IS THE EVENT? WHO'S INVITED, GIVE US THE PARTICULARS.
KNOX: ITS GOING TO TAKE PLACE ON JANUARY 7TH, SATURDAY AT ASU NEW COLLEGE WEST 4701 WEST THUNDERBIRD ROAD. IT STARTS AT 9:00 IN THE MORNING AND ENDS AT 4:00.YOU CAN GO ONLINE TO WWW.LWVAZ.ORG, AND YOU CAN EASILY REGISTER ONLINE.
TED SIMONS: VERY GOOD INFORMATION. GOOD TO HAVE YOU BOTH HERE. WE APPRECIATE IT.

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