March 21, 2022 / Modified mar 21, 2022 6 p.m.

Arizona Senate committee approves bill to scrap early voting

Absentee voting would be limited to a narrow set of circumstances.

360 vote here A vote here sign outside of a polling place in Tucson. November 2020.
John DeSoto/AZPM Staff

An Arizona Senate committee voted Monday to virtually eliminate early voting.

Under House Bill 2289, voters could only cast a ballot in person on Election Day at the polling place in their precinct.

Absentee voting would be limited to voters who are going to be outside the state on Election Day, are in a hospital or nursing home, have blindness or are in the armed forces.

That would be a big change for many Arizonans. Of those who cast a ballot in the last presidential election, 88% voted early either by mail or in person.

But supporters, like Republican Senator Wendy Rogers, argue the policy would improve confidence in the election process.

"Just because it is convenient to vote by mail doesn't mean that is our right," Rogers told the Senate Government Committee.

Opponents, like Democratic Senator Martín Quezada, argued the bill would disenfranchise many voters across the political spectrum.

"Requiring people to show up to vote harms the working class, it harms folks who can't afford to take time off from work and not get paid, it harms people who have no reliable transportation, it harms people who have no reliable day care," he said.

The committee advanced the bill by 4-3 vote along party lines, with Republican Senator J.D. Mesnard supporting the bill while also asking for a change to a provision that would require election officials to tally results by hand within a day of voting. Mesnard raised concerns about the ability of election officials to tally so many ballots entirely by hand in such a short window of time.

Crafted by Republican Rep. John Fillmore, the measure is similar to one that Republican House Speaker Rusty Bowers blocked in that chamber by assigning it to 12 committees, instead of just one, as usual.

To advance the bill on Monday, Senate Government Committee Chair Kelly Townsend used a procedural maneuver, adding it to a separate, unrelated bill.

The bill heads next to a vote of the full Senate.

By posting comments, you agree to our
AZPM encourages comments, but comments that contain profanity, unrelated information, threats, libel, defamatory statements, obscenities, pornography or that violate the law are not allowed. Comments that promote commercial products or services are not allowed. Comments in violation of this policy will be removed. Continued posting of comments that violate this policy will result in the commenter being banned from the site.

By submitting your comments, you hereby give AZPM the right to post your comments and potentially use them in any other form of media operated by this institution.
AZPM is a service of the University of Arizona and our broadcast stations are licensed to the Arizona Board of Regents who hold the trademarks for Arizona Public Media and AZPM. We respectfully acknowledge the University of Arizona is on the land and territories of Indigenous peoples.
The University of Arizona