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Responses to President Trump's suggestion that he opposes more Postal Service funding in part to prevent expanded mail-in voting; and Puerto Rico's second try at a primary on Sunday.

GOP Lawmakers Block Switch to Mail-In Ballots for AZ Elections

Arizonans already have the option to vote by mail. The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted officials to propose extending mail-in ballots to all voters, for both the 2020 primary and general elections. (Darylann/AdobeStock)
Arizonans already have the option to vote by mail. The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted officials to propose extending mail-in ballots to all voters, for both the 2020 primary and general elections. (Darylann/AdobeStock)
April 13, 2020

PHOENIX -- Voting-rights advocates say partisan politics are blocking Arizona elections officials from allowing all voters in the state to use mail-in ballots in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

Some 80% of Arizona voters already cast their ballots by mail, but Republicans in the state Legislature -- who would have to approve a statewide plan -- remain staunchly opposed.

Emily Kirkland, executive director with Progress Now Arizona, said these lawmakers seem to be taking their cue from President Donald Trump, who claims mail-in voting is an invitation for voter fraud.

"It's nonsense. Many of the people who are now saying that vote-by-mail is somehow insecure themselves vote by mail," Kirkland said. "Arizonans have been voting by mail for years. All the Arizona election officials of both parties support this move."

Arizona county recorders, who are in charge of local elections, say they need a go-ahead from lawmakers in the next couple of weeks in order to prepare for the Aug. 4 primary and Nov. 3 general elections.

Many voting rights advocates want to add universal mail-in balloting. But Kirkland said this Vote-By-Mail Plus proposal is designed to preserve in-person options for those who still want them.

"Sending every registered voter a mail-in ballot, while also expanding in-person options -- including early voting -- to make sure that we're able to protect public health and preserve our democracy, even in the midst of this unprecedented crisis," she said.

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, said she foresees no problems or delays with using mail-in ballots to allow voters to avoid crowds at polling stations.

"We have a track record in Arizona with early voting, particularly vote-by-mail -- but also in jurisdictional elections, counties already run those all vote-by-mail," Hobbs said.

Both Kirkland and Hobbs say they plan to continue talking with lawmakers about the move. The Legislature is scheduled to reconvene this week, but some reports say House and Senate leaders don't plan to reconsider the matter.


Support for this reporting was provided by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

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Mark Richardson, Public News Service - AZ