Every American, no matter their political party, should have a significant interest in the wholesale integrity of the election process.  And yet the business of ensuring citizens voting is honest, clean and untampered with, has been a fiercely partisan issue, dividing Republicans and Democrats into two camps: the party for election integrity and the party against “voter suppression.”

The integrity of the elections systems is two-fold: ensuring there are legal and procedural safeguards to maintain clean and accurate voting rolls and preventing, discovering and deterring fraudulent activity.

One would think that maintaining up to date voter rolls would be an innocuous issue.  After all, neglecting to do so all but guarantees records will be cluttered with deceased persons and those who have moved out of state. In a 2012 study, the Pew Research Foundation found that 24 million voter registrations in the United States were either invalid or significantly inaccurate – that is one in every eight registrants.  This vast vulnerability directly dovetails into susceptibility of election fraud.

The issue of election fraud is as old as elections themselves and take form in a variety of ways including – double voting, ineligible voting, and voter registration fraud, etc. Yet, this type of crime is notoriously difficult to catch, document, and enforce, which makes the problem significantly underreported.

Following the Arizona general elections of 2018, many voters voiced concerns over how specifically the Maricopa County recorder’s office conducted operations.  And given the thin margins in many of the state-wide races, a little bit of fraud can have a big effect.

As a result, several Arizona lawmakers have introduced legislation to insert more practical checks into the system to both scrub voter rolls and fills cracks where the system is susceptible to fraud.

The best batch of election integrity bills have been introduced by Senator Michelle Ugenti-Rita (R) and include:

  • SB 1046 requires voters who receive a ballot by mail to return that ballot by mail. If they do not, they may vote in person on election day with a standard ballot.  Practically, this bill helps prevent the illegal practice of ballot harvesting.
  • SB 1072 requires voters to show identification when voting at an early voting location. This makes the identification requirements consistent across all methods of in-person voting.  And although Democrats want to claim the basic function of showing I.D is burdensome to voters, 76 percent of Americans believe such requirements should be mandatory.
  • SB 1188 requires a county recorder to remove a voter from the permanent early voting list and cease sending them early ballots if the elector has not voted in two consecutive primary or general elections.
  • SB 1090 requires electors voting at an emergency voting center to sign an affidavit under penalty of perjury that they did in fact suffer an emergency. Also requires the County Board of Supervisors to sign off on location, quantity and hours of emergency voting centers.

Given the reasonable proposals being suggested, one might be surprised by the very vocal fidelity of the left to the notion that 1. Fraud doesn’t exist, 2. When it does it is insignificant, and 3. Any legal framework that inserts predictable rules and guidelines into the system disenfranchises voters.

This is less surprising when you consider the bills drafted by Democrat legislators this year which take a free-for-all approach.  Their philosophy seems to be the more votes cast the better – even if those votes are duplicative, unverified, or non-citizens.  These bills include repealing the prohibition of ballot harvesting, same-day voter registration, and automatic restoration of voting rights for felons.

These election integrity bills are important steps to shore up weakness in Arizona’s election process.  Despite the left’s effort to diminish the relevance of the election integrity issue, the real disenfranchisement of voters comes from diluting the votes of honest electors. Allowing for the erosion of the system casts doubt into the minds of citizens as to if their vote even counts – and that is true voter suppression.

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The Arizona Free Enterprise Club is a free market policy and advocacy group dedicated to promoting a strong and vibrant Arizona economy.