Republicans are cooking up yet another large-scale voter suppression scheme.
The Republican Party has opened a new front in its war on voting in Arizona.
After losing key statewide races in 2018, Arizona Republicans are on the cusp of passing a massive voter suppression bill that would unilaterally purge as many as 200,000 voters from the state's Permanent Early Voting List.
The bill flouts the definition of the word "permanent" by removing voters from the Permanent Early Voting list if they don't vote in just two consecutive federal, state, or local elections. The bill passed out of a critical House committee late last week, and will soon move to the full House. It has already passed the state Senate.
An estimated 200,000 Arizona voters would have been removed from voter rolls in the next election if such a law had been in place in 2016 and 2018, according to the Arizona secretary of state's office. That number could be even higher in the future.
Pro-democracy groups and legislators have blasted the bill as having no other purpose but to suppress voters.
"Purging people from something called a Permanent Early Voting List, I have to say, it's really unconscionable," Sandy Bahr, director of the Sierra Club's Grand Canyon Chapter, told the Arizona Republic.
Under current law, voters can sign up to be on the Permanent Early Voting List and receive a ballot in the mail 27 days before an election for the rest of their life. In the state, roughly 3 in 4 voters cast their vote by mail, according to the Arizona Republic.
And there are already guardrails in place to protect the integrity of voting. The state removes names from the list when voters die, or if voters move and don't provide a new address.
At a hearing about the bill, Democrats noted that 2018 saw record voter turnout, and that this bill seems to be nothing more than "an issue of voter suppression." In the 2018 election, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema won a close election to replace the retiring Sen. Jeff Flake, flipping the seat from red to blue. Republicans also lost the secretary of state race.
Aggressive voter suppression tactics are nothing new for Republicans. In Georgia, Republican Brian Kemp spent years as secretary of state making it harder for certain populations (mostly young people and people of color) to vote. In 2018, his voter suppression efforts helped carry him to a narrow victory over Stacey Abrams.
In North Carolina, Republicans have engaged in both voter suppression and election fraud over the past several years. A federal court found that one voter suppression law passed by North Carolina Republicans targeted black voters "with almost surgical precision."
In the 2018 midterms, the Republican nominee financed an election fraud effort that involved collecting absentee ballots and either discarding them or filling them in for the GOP nominee. The fraud was so widespread that even the Republican candidate admitted a new election was necessary.
In the House of Representatives, the new Democratic majority prioritized voting rights in their marquee legislation, H.R. 1. The bill passed the chamber in March with unanimous support from Democrats and unanimous opposition from Republicans.
Instead of changing their message to voters after losing, Republicans are just trying to make it harder for citizens to participate in the democratic process.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.