Time for a Pro Democracy Movement in Arizona?

Commentary by Bob Karp

What do HB 2461 and SB1434 have in common other than being proposed by Republicans?  They both attempt to restrict participation in the most fundamental democratic activities of citizens - voting and elections.

In the case of HB 2461, Republican Rep. Bob Thorpe of Flagstaff wasn't happy when in 2016 the city voted to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.  He opposed it.  He particularly was irked that college students at Northern Arizona University were quite enthusiastic about the issue.  He has complained that "numerous constituents ... are angry as all get out" - Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services 1/22/2020. Like many Republican office holders he isn't a good loser on an issue.  Instead he had decided to change the rules - requiring that anyone living in a college dormitory "or other temporary college address" would be presumed to be there temporarily and would not be able to register at that address.

Thorpe seems to think that students only go to college for "five months, six months out of the year in Flagstaff."  Anyone who has lived away from home at college knows you are likely at college for nine or 10 months out of the year.  He seems to think that students are not part of the community where they attend college.  I'm sure he is more than happy to see them spend money in Flagstaff and generate sales tax.  Just don't vote there.

Thorpe also added a provision to the bill that would ban the use of any address at which the individual does not intend to reside for 12 months each year!  Really?  So all your Republican friends that have second homes, let's say in - Maine - and they spend summers there boating and enjoying the good life - would no longer be eligible to vote in Arizona?

SB 1424 presented by my state senator, David Gown, adds new requirements for recalls of state and local elected officials.  This technical bill focuses on paid petition circulators creating restrictions that have already been signed into law for initiatives.  The law creates two huge hurdles for recalls:  permits anyone challenging the recall to require paid circulators show up in court.  If they don't their petitions are thrown out; and requires that "strict compliance" to formatting standards and signature standards.  For those of you who have circulated initiative petitions you know how difficult this can be.

Again, the goal seems to be to make it harder for citizens to participate in elections.

Flip the AZ Senate

There are countless other attempts by the Republican majority in the Arizona state legislature to erode voter participation in elections.  This is a state that has consistently attempted to make it difficult to register to vote.  Requiring "opt in" registration when you get your driver's license rather than "opt out".  By enshrining an unfair candidate ballot listing process that allows the "winning party" in a county to have its candidates appear first on the ballot.

I support providing everyone who is eligible to vote the resources and access to register to vote.  I will not support attempts to shorten the period of time that early in-person voting can take place.  I do not support "strict compliance" when it comes to initiative petitions.  But if we must have that then stop exempting candidates for state office, such as myself, from the same requirements.

Let's make our state legislature "pro democracy".  Encouraging everyone to participate.  It's time for a change.

Posted in Ideas/Opinion.

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