Arizona Capitol

Ban on Ballot Collection Voted Down by Arizona Lawmakers

Arizona lawmakers yesterday rejected another attempt to ban the practice of people collecting others' election ballots to turn in.

Such a practice was utilized by the group Citizens for a Better Arizona during the successful 2012 recall of then-Senate President Russell Pearce. CBA workers collected early-voting ballots from voters who agreed to have their completed ballot hand-delivered to elections officials to make sure it was counted.

A ban on such a practice was included in 2013's House Bill 2305, a Republican-backed package of changes to election law. Seeing that Democrats, third-party supporters, and other non-Republicans had enough support to put the issue on the ballot for voters to decide, the Republican-led Legislature repealed the whole law last year, but Democrats have kept their eye out for any attempts to pass parts of this bill again.

Such an attempt was made yesterday, in which the House Elections Committee voted on a proposal to make it a felony to collect someone else's ballot. A Republican vote against the bill spelled failure.

See also: -Viral Video of "Ballot Stuffing" in Phoenix Shows a Perfectly Legal Practice

"I did not support [H.B.] 2305," Republican Representative Heather Carter said. "This bill still does not address my concerns."

She said she has several concerns about the proposal, one of which is that it "could potentially make someone's aunt or uncle a felon" for making sure their relative's vote is cast.

The bill would have made it a felony for anyone who's not an immediate family member or political candidate to collect someone else's ballot. The state's election director said Republican Secretary of State Michelle Reagan supported the proposal.

Legislative staff said 32 states have some sort of restriction of collecting other people's ballots, though no one seemed to know exactly how many had a proposal like this one.

This proposal, however, was constructed to mirror a current California law.

Asked why such a practice needed to be a felony offense, Senator Don Shooter, the bill's sponsor, said, "Well, i think that would be a deterrent."

Democratic Representative Jonathan Larkin didn't seem to be on board with yet another change to election law.

"We change our election laws so much down here," he said. "Every time we run for re-election we have to study up on these things."

Ultimately, a 3-3 tie killed the proposal. However, that doesn't prevent the proposal from popping up again.

The issue has been targeted by Republicans several times.

Just last year, A.J. LaFaro, then the chairman of the Maricopa County GOP, suggested a worker for Citizens for a Better Arizona was committing voter fraud by dropping off a stack of ballots at election headquarters. It became a widely circulated story on conservative news websites.

Although it may seem like early ballots give people plenty of time to turn in their ballots, the reality is, thousands don't every year, and these collectors help to remedy that.

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Follow Valley Fever on Twitter at @ValleyFeverPHX. Follow Matthew Hendley at @MatthewHendley.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley