A Republican-backed bill that would purge the state’s Permanent Early Voting List of up to 200,000 voters has died, but it could come back at the state legislature. Critics, including state business leaders, say that the bill is an attempt at voter suppression. The bill’s sponsor is state Senator Michelle Ugenti-Rita.
Ugenti-Rita argues this bill was needed to protect elections and their integrity.
“As a state, we have an obligation to make sure our elections are fair, transparent, people believe in them, believe in the outcome, that they’re run well. All of that stuff makes for an electoral process that people have confidence in. One way to reinforce that is to address our mail by voting system or program. This is a voluntary program people can opt into. I vote by mail myself, so do hundreds of thousands of people here in Arizona. We do want to make sure that the list that people are on to receive their ballot is accurate,” Ugenti-Rita said.
Ugenti-Rita disagrees with critics that it is an attempt of voter suppression.
“I don’t know why we’re getting hung up on the permanent word. It’s permanent if you vote early. If you’re not voting, you are really not a mail-in voter. What is the incentive for the state to send ballots who are not voting?” Ugenti-Rita said.
Critics have also suggested this targets Democrats, Independents, and people of color. Ugenti-Rita argues that it targets everyone.
“Point to the line item, the page number where it targets one group and not the other. It applies to all voters,” Ugenti-Rita said.
Ugenti-Rita notes casual voters who don’t vote in every single election will receive a notice before they are removed from the list.
“Still, Arizona will send you a notice and say ‘Hey, are you still with us? Are you there? Have you moved? What’s going on? Do you still want to get your ballot by mail?’ If you sign the notice and send it back, you’re going to continue to get your mail-in ballot,” Ugenti-Rita said.