PHOENIX – A Democratic lawmaker is calling upon the U.S. Department of Justice to monitor three election-related bills being considered by the Legislature.
“I think these bills are designed to do one thing: put a lid on a very strong Latino community that is coming out to vote,” said Sen. Steve Gallardo, D-Phoenix.
Joined at a news conference by four groups that have been working to increase the Latino vote, Gallardo complained that the Republican legislation was crafted behind closed doors.
“These bills have been created not with the input of minority communities,” Gallardo said. “These bills are created in a vacuum.”
SB 1261 would allow counties to purge from permanent early voter lists people who don’t vote in both the primary and general elections in a given year. SB 1003 would make it a felony to turn in the early ballot of someone other than a relative.
Both of those bills have won party-line approval from the Senate Elections Committee, of which Gallardo is a member.
HB 2350 would require voters to have their signatures notarized to get on the permanent early ballot list or to receive early ballots. The House Judiciary Committee tabled that measure.
Gallardo shared a letter dated Tuesday asking the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division to monitor the three bills.
“The current language in these bills will making (sic) the voting process more cumbersome and difficult and thus will have the unintended consequences of disenfranchising a huge segment of our citizens,” the letter said.
Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act requires Arizona and other states with histories of racial discrimination to receive Justice Department approval before changing election laws.
Dena Iverson, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said in an email that the department would review Gallardo’s letter when it’s received.
At the news conference, Alessandra Soler, executive director of American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, said the Senate bills would disenfranchise Latino voters.
“We as an organization are very concerned about these so-called election reform bills because they have absolutely nothing to do with reform and they have nothing to do with elections,” Soler said.
Randy Parraz with Citizens for a Better Arizona noted that last year his group collected over 4,000 ballots, many of them from Latino voters, and turned them in at polling places, something that would be a felony under SB 1003.
“This is, at its very base, discriminatory and targeted at certain communities of Latinos who for whatever reason trusted the person who came to their door,” Parraz said.
Gallardo said that he asked the sponsor of both bills, Sen. Michele Reagan, R-Scottsdale, to hold them so that they could be discussed with groups that work with Latino voters.
Reagan, chairwoman of the Senate Elections Committee, said in a phone interview that she specifically requested that Gallardo be on her committee because he represents a constituency she doesn’t want to disenfranchise.
“Where I need him is at the table helping me make decisions, not standing out in the lawn screaming and yelling, but that’s his choice it’s not mine,” Reagan said.
- Stretches and exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
- The best Major League ballparks have their own personality
- Comparing the best regular seasons: The '96 Bulls and '16 Warriors
- 3 Arizona road trips and the vehicles to get you there
- Colon cancer is preventable. Check these signs and symptoms to stay healthy.
- 6 of the biggest skin cancer myths
- Affordable small home makeover ideas
- Locals helping locals: 6 success stories you need to know about
- Sunscreen facts that could save your life
- 6 energy saving hacks for your home
- 5 tips for choosing a company to end your timeshare
- Overlooked water tips to save you money
- 5 of the most adored gentlemen in professional sports today
- The real danger of sitting at your desk
- Most surprising NBA playoff performances of the last 40 years
- 11 classic baseball movies you must see again
- Finally getting rid of fat: 3 methods that actually work
- 4 reasons cancer survivors should focus on food
- 5 spring cleaning spots everyone forgets
- 5 reasons to look forward to watching the D-backs this season
- Common virus attributed to spike in head and neck cancers
- 5 signs it’s time to end your timeshare ownership
- 3 most overlooked ways to keep your home healthy
- 6 ways the air in your home could be making you sick
- CrossFit dangers: 5 common injuries and how to deal with them
- Today's radiation treatments offer better success, fewer side effects
- Tips to make watching TV on the patio even better
- What really happens when you donate to a community college?
- Sun and skin cancer: Separating fact from fiction
- 5 critical lifestyle changes for a healthy colon