Jan Brewer Signs Repeal of Last Year's Changes to Voting Laws

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Governor Jan Brewer signed the repeal of last year's House Bill 2305, a bill that made several controversial changes to the elections process in Arizona.

After a coalition of non-Republican groups quickly gathered enough signatures to put the issue to voters after the bill's passage last year, the Republican majority decided to repeal the law this year ahead of any vote by the citizens.

The new law required minor-party candidates to get the same number of signatures as Democrats or Republicans to get on the ballot, creating a way for elections officials to remove people from the "permanent" early-voting list, and making it a crime to deliver someone's ballot to the polls -- a tactic that just so happened to be used in the successful recall of Republican Senate President Russell Pearce -- among other things. Although some of these laws were proposed individually last year, they ended up all being packaged together in one bill, which Brewer has now repealed.

The question is, were the Republicans acting with good intent in repealing the law? Republican leadership says yes.

The coalition that worked to get the issue on the ballot says no. Just last week, the Protect Your Right to Vote Committee and several Democratic lawmakers demanded that Republicans not go forward with the repeal.

Their belief is that the Republican majority will go back, and pass these provisions one-by-one. (One Republican lawmaker admitted to the Arizona Capitol Times that passing them one-by-one is the plan.) Had the issue been put to voters, there's a very good chance voters would have repealed it.

The difference is whether the Arizona Voter Protection Act would apply. That amendment to the Arizona Constitution is designed to prevent lawmakers and the governor from tampering with laws created by citizens. There's a concern that had voters been allowed to overturn it, then lawmakers wouldn't be allowed to pass any of those provisions of that bill.

Watch the Arizona Capitol Times' Luige del Puerto, Capitol Media Services' Howie Fischer, and the Phoenix Business Journal's Mike Sunnucks discuss this very issue on Arizona Horizon a few weeks ago, starting at the 11-minute mark:

The voting-rights coalition also wanted Republican leadership to pledge that they wouldn't try to pass these provisions this session. No such pledge was made, but the provisions haven't shown up -- yet, at least.

"It is unquestionably a win for Arizona that this assault on voting rights will not be enacted ahead of the next election," Protect Your Right to Vote Committee chairwoman Julie Erfle says in a statement. "That is not why we opposed the repeal. This issue was always about politicians trying to pick their voters, trying to take away our choices. We, as voters, stood up and earned the right to make this decision ourselves in November through the Protect Your Right to Vote referendum. We are confident the voters would have soundly rejected HB 2305."

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

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