Friday, March 08, 2013

House Democrats working with community members to show how harmful election bills will disenfranchise Arizona voters

House Democrats working with community members to show how harmful election bills will disenfranchise Arizona voters

Phoenix residents Miriam Gundry (front, left) and Dorothy Anderson (back, left) meet with Rep. Ruben Gallego (front, right), Rep. Martin Quezada (center, right) and Rep. Lela Alston (back, right) to discuss some of the harmful election bills being heard at the State Capitol.
STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Today House Democrats met with Phoenix residents Dorothy Anderson, 97 years old, and Miriam Gundry, 88 years old, to discuss several election bills that would disenfranchise Arizona voters.

Recently, Republicans have been pushing legislation that would negatively affect some Arizona voters. Both Anderson and Gundry rely on volunteers to pick up and deliver their ballots. SB 1003 would drastically limit who can help voters return early ballots during elections. Anderson invited House Democrats to her home to discuss the ramifications of such legislation.

Anderson said she first voted in a presidential election in the 1930s, and she thinks the Legislature should “just leave things alone.” Gundry, who cast her first vote in 1948 for Harry S. Truman, said she thinks the legislation will disenfranchise the elderly.

“How can you make it more difficult to vote?” she said. “Voting is an American right. I think it’s really unfair to pick on old people.”

Rep. Lela Alston, D-Phoenix (District 24), applauded Anderson and Gundry for speaking out on this issue.

“It is so important that Arizonans participate in the process,” Alston said. “These ladies are standing up for their rights and for the rights of countless others who would be disenfranchised by this legislation.”

Assistant House Minority Leader Ruben Gallego, D-Phoenix (District 27), added that proponents of the legislation may argue that people like Anderson and Gundry could just mail their ballots.

“That argument doesn’t hold water,” Gallego said. “Many voters would rather have someone they trust deliver their ballots. The cut off date for mailing ballots can be confusing, and they want to be sure their voices are heard. The bottom line is we should be making it easier for people to participate, not setting up obstacles.”

Another bill, SB 1261, would make it more difficult for people to be included on the Permanent Early Voting List and more difficult to stay on that list once they are added. About 50 percent of all Latino voters in Arizona are registered on the PEVL.

“Voter turnout within the Latino community increased dramatically this past election cycle.  Part of the reason for that was because many Latinos utilized the PEVL system,” Rep. Martin Quezada, D-Phoenix (District 29), said. “This legislation will marginalize Latino voters and other minority voters. We should be expanding voting opportunities for the people of Arizona, not finding ways to restrict them.”

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