Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Voter suppression redux

Here is a prediction already known to be true.

2015 was a year of attempts by the Republicans in the AZ idioture to suppress the vote. We can look forward to more of the same in 2016. GOPlins never give up. Here's a report on the first salvo - a bill to outlaw "ballot harvesting" - from Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required).

Republican Rep. Anthony Kern of Glendale is reviving a years-running controversial measure to ban volunteers from collecting voters’ early ballots and delivering them to elections officials.

Kern pre-filed a bill for the 2016 legislative session that would outlaw the practice of “ballot harvesting” that was pioneered by Latino get-out-the-vote groups to engage low-efficacy voters, and turn out the vote for mostly Democratic candidates.

And, as in 2015, efforts to suppress the vote are based on unfounded rumors and bogus information.

... Kern said he has heard rumors that volunteers have committed fraud in their ballot collections, and that banning volunteers would boost confidence in the election system.
“There are rumors out there of (fraud) happening, but I don’t know about any instances in particular,” he said ...

... Democratic Sen. Andrew Sherwood of Tempe noted that there have been no verified instances of voter fraud associated with the practice of ballot harvesting. He questioned what problem Kern and other Republicans are trying to solve with the bill, other than to thwart an increase in Democratic turnout.

“Republicans go after bills like this if they find them to be politically profitable… You can’t run this bill and say you’re doing the people a favor if this doesn’t help people make their voice heard in an election,” Sherwood said.

Remember that the 2014 voter suppression legislation was pulled by the legislature itself after a petition gathered enough signatures to refer it to the voters. Never to let a bad idea laid to rest ...

In 2015, Republican lawmakers attempted to revive the [2014 version of the] ballot harvesting ban, but the bill died after the Senate adjourned for the year while the House was in a middle of a vote on the legislation.

But Kern noted the bill had enough votes to pass the House when the vote was canceled, and said he expects enough Republican senators to support it to ensure this is the year the bill becomes law.

Sherwood, however, warned that Democrats and community groups have long fought the legislation tooth and nail, and have so far prevailed.

“There are not many bills where collectively (Democrats) feel this is a battle of good versus evil. With the ballot harvesting bill, a lot of my colleagues and I feel this is in fact a battle of good versus evil, and (stopping) this needs to be of the highest priority,” he said.

The one thing that voter suppression legislation is designed to help? Making our Democracy work less well by limiting the voice of the people.

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