As a state legislator, one of my priorities will be to engage more Arizonans in our democratic process.
Here’s the hard reality: Arizona has a mixed record on democracy. In one generation, we took a bold step to reduce money in our politics but also witnessed our largest public utility company buy two elections. Arizona was one of the first places to vote for women’s suffrage, yet it is also home to a nationally-infamous campaign of voter suppression.
Let’s set a new agenda for democratic participation, government transparency, and confidence in our state institutions. Here are some steps forward:
It's hard to trust the institutions when you're prevented from participating in them. This is the reality for 220,000 Arizonans who can't vote because of a past felony conviction. This is like disenfranchising all of Santa Cruz County – four times over. Voting is a right and it should be treated as such. I urge Arizona to become the third state in the nation to completely de-couple one's criminal history from the right to vote.
Receiving a voter registration card should be easier than receiving a library card, but that is not the case in Arizona. I support the growing movement for automatic voter registration, currently available in 16 states.
Recent research suggests that voting is a habit, not unlike smoking or other well-known habits. If voting is habit-forming, let’s do all we can to create the habit.
In 2016, Arizona voters required employers to offer paid sick leave to their workers. Let’s extend this concept to Election Day. I support requiring larger companies to offer two hours of paid voting leave on Election Day.
In Arizona, registered independent voters (one-third of all voters) are not allowed to vote in the presidential preference elections (ie, presidential primary) held every four years. This causes confusion and frustration. We must do everything we can to reduce negative associations with voting and to encourage the habit. This is why – in this rare instance – I agree with Gov. Doug Ducey, who supports opening up the presidential preference elections to independent voters.
The voting booth is not the only place to practice democracy. Workplace democracy happens every time co-workers join in common cause to improve workplace conditions. This habit-forming behavior is one reason I support the repeal of Arizona’s anti-democratic “right-to-work” law.
In 2017, the federal government found that Russians had attempted to hack Arizona’s elections system in the lead-up to the 2016 elections. Arizona’s reaction has been underwhelming. Arizona devotes less state budget money to elections security than to the regulation of cosmetologists. Still today, some Arizona counties have failed to take simple steps to secure elections websites, and statewide security protocols remain limited. Since the 2016 elections, the Arizona Legislature has considered zero pieces of legislation to reduce the risk of electronic tampering with our elections.
During my first legislative session, I will sponsor legislation to:
- Require risk limiting post-election audits – a cost-saving method of automatically hand-counting a sampling of paper ballots
- Create a dedicated “elections integrity” fund within the Secretary of State, to be distributed to the 15 county elections systems on a formula basis and supplementing existing Help America Vote Act funding
- Require ongoing, periodic security training of county elections officials, to be funded by the State
Following the famous march in Selma, Alabama, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act in 1965. This required some states to obtain “preclearance” from the federal government before changing its voting laws. Because of its history of racial disparities, Arizona was one of a small number of states that required preclearance. In 2013, however, the U.S. Supreme Court gutted this provision. Since 2013, the Republican-led Legislature has been free to change election laws, regardless of possible racial disparities. This lack of oversight must end. Although the federal government can no longer undertake such oversight, nothing prevents the creation of an independent state commission for the purpose.
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