Commentary by Bob Karp
April 2, 2020: Right now there are reasons not to obsess over small political issues. However, making sure that the upcoming Arizona primary election on August 4, 2020 and the general election on November 3, 2020 can be conducted in a way that guarantees the broadest participation possible is certainly not trivial.
I'm not surprised that many Republicans in the Arizona state legislature do not seem to be concerned about the challenges of voting in the midst of a virus pandemic. Arizona is one of many enlightened states that allows mail-in ballots. The infrastructure exists in all the counties to handle vote-by-mail elections. In fact, in Cochise county the city of Douglas has conducted its city council elections as vote-by-mail.
Before adjournment at the end of March, Republicans refused to consider making changes to statutes to make it easier to get on the Permanent Early Voting List (PEVL). Changing to automatic enrollment of new registrations rather than opting in. Also allowing county election officials to mail ballots to all registered voters regardless if they asked for them.
Now we have Rep. Shawnna LM Bolick, a (Republican, District 20 and is a member of the House Elections Committee) who has made several arguments in keeping things the way there are:
- Arizonans have options on how to vote
- Mailed ballots carry inherent risks
- Mail-only election require more staff
- Voting in person is more accurate, secure
We can debate all the above and I believe I can make good arguments about each. But the reality right now is that to protect the integrity of the vote in our 2020 elections it is up to our political leaders to make every effort to make sure that there are few, if any barriers to voting. My suggestion to Arizona Republicans - stop making access to voting a partisan political issue. The more people that vote the better. It is that simple!
Read Representative Bolick's op ed piece at AZCentral.com