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House repeals 2013 election law that angered many

PHOENIX — The Arizona House voted Thursday to repeal a sweeping 2013
Arizona election law that included trimming the state’s permanent early voting
list and a host of other provisions that incensed voter-rights advocates.

Majority Republicans who pushed House Bill 2305 through last June voted to
repeal the law on a 33-26 party-line vote Thursday. An identical bill is making
its way through the Senate and could get a vote next week, sending it to GOP
Gov. Jan Brewer.

The passage of the election law in the final hours of the 2013 session angered
Democrats, some conservative Republicans and third-party candidates. They came
together to collect more than 146,000 signatures to place the law on hold and
put it on the November ballot.

Republicans pushing the repeal say they are following the will of the voters
and expressed worry that the many provisions in the bill could not be changed
without a supermajority vote of the Legislature if it is repealed by voters and
not the Legislature.

Repealing the law will cancel the voter referendum.

Democrats argued that the GOP is thwarting the will of the voters and worry
Republicans will simply re-enact its provisions piecemeal. Republicans in the
House turned back a Democratic amendment Thursday that would have revived the
voter referendum if any of the provisions were adopted by the current
Legislature. Another Democratic amendment that would delay the repeal until
after the election also designed to prevent re-enactment was also rejected by
the GOP lawmakers.

“This is exactly what they’ve asked for, that 2305 not go into effect. This is
exactly what I am giving them,” said Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, R-Gilbert, the
bill’s sponsor. He repeated again that he is not pushing a piecemeal effort to
revive provisions of the law, although he said he couldn’t guarantee others
won’t.

“A lot of us are concerned, I think we all know this, that once this actually
passes there may be an effort down here to put some piecemeal bills together to
try to construct a kind of some Frankensteinian version of HB 2305 and allow it
to rumble through the village called the state of Arizona,” said Minority
Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix.

Farnsworth pushed back.

“You can challenge me on the trust all you want. But I can guarantee every one
of you know that when I tell you what I’m going to do, that’s what I’m going to
do,” he said.

Many Republicans, including House Speaker Andy Tobin, have said that there are
some provisions of the bill being repealed they think are badly needed,
including a provision that incensed Democrats making it illegal to pick up
vote-by-mail ballots and the provision cutting voters from the vote-by-mail
list.

Tobin said he would not block any of those pieces from debate, but he hopes the
two parties could work together to fix some of the problems that overwhelmed
election officials with provisional ballots after the 2012 elections.

“I’ve made no commitments not to move anything,” Tobin said. “There’s
clearly places to go where we can make improvements here.”

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