Local Opinion: Lawmakers Should Expand, Not Restrict, Voting Rights | Local editorials and opinion

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Here is the author’s opinion and analysis. Davis is a Democratic candidate for the Arizona House of Representatives in Legislative District 18:

Our right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy. When our republic is attacked by a faction seeking to restrict the right of citizens to vote and participate in government, it is paramount that we remove that faction from power through the ballot box.

We are witnessing, once again, the reduction of access to the vote in the United States and right here in Arizona. Recent efforts to restrict or eliminate postal voting and to undermine confidence in the outcome of our elections illustrate current attacks on the democratic process.

The widespread adoption of postal voting in the United States has its roots in the Civil War. In the 1864 elections, 19 states in the Union passed laws to ensure that soldiers away from home could participate in this crucial election. Mail-in voting would continue to be used for soldiers throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, and eventually many states expanded the option to the civilian population.

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In 1991, voters in Arizona were allowed to request an absentee ballot for any reason. In 2007, lawmakers created the Permanent Early Voting List (PEVL) to allow citizens to vote by mail without requesting a mail-in ballot each year.

Today, nearly three-quarters of Arizona voters voted by mail. Mail-in voting is widely used by Republicans, Democrats and Independents. The latest attacks, including last year’s bill to eliminate the PEVL and the Arizona Republican Party’s recent attempt to have early voting declared unconstitutional by the Arizona Supreme Court, are an affront to our rights as citizens in a democracy and contrary to the wishes of most Arizonans.

A recent poll by OH Predictive Insights showed that Arizonans (74% overall) support mail-in voting. Additionally, support is very strong among voters ages 55 and older (84%), voters excited to vote in the upcoming election (81%), and voters who have lived in Arizona for more than five years. (79%).

I believe the Arizona Legislature should adopt three key policies to strengthen voting rights and access to the ballot.

First, the legislature should reinstate the permanent early voting list. Last year, Governor Doug Ducey signed SB 1485, which eliminated the “permanent” aspect of PEVL. I fully support the current initiative to restore the PEVL and expand voting accessibility for Arizonans.

Second, the Arizona Legislature should pass a law allowing voters’ absentee ballots to be counted as long as they are postmarked on Election Day and received within two weeks of Election Day. of the ballot. This would end the confusion surrounding the last day to mail in a ballot and give voters all the time they need to deliberate their vote.

Third, the Arizona Legislature should pass legislation to establish Automatic Voter Registration (AVR) and Same-Day Voter Registration (SDVR). According to the US Census Bureau, nearly one in four Arizona citizens over the age of 18 are not registered to vote. With AVR, citizens are automatically registered to vote when interacting with a government agency like the Department of Motor Vehicles. (Citizens can opt out of registration after the fact.) The SDVR would allow voters to correct errors, such as updating an address or changing a name, or new Arizona citizens to register to vote on or near election day.

Our nation’s story is one of democratic expansion. Through constitutional amendments and laws, we extended citizenship and the right to vote to previously excluded groups, including blacks, Native Americans and women. New technologies have made it easier to count votes, and new policies, such as mail-in voting, have allowed easier access to the ballot.

I am running for the Arizona House of Representatives in Legislative District 18 to defend our basic and constitutional rights as citizens of Arizona and the United States. We deserve a legislative majority that will work to expand democratic participation, not put obstacles in the way of progress.

Nathan Davis is an educator, entrepreneur, and Democratic candidate for the Arizona House of Representatives in Legislative District 18. He lives in Tucson.

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