Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Voter Suppression bill HB2305 UPDATED 4:40pm MST 6-19-13

SEE UPDATE at the END of this post

I don't know how much left over good will/kumbaya Gov. Brewer will have after the signing ceremony for the Medicaid restoration bill on Monday morning, but I hope it's enough.

As Howie Fischer reported in the Arizona Daily Star (Tucson):
The real lasting legacy could be some of the more politically moderate legislators in the Republican Party ignored their own more conservative leadership and found common ground with the Democrats, which could open the door for more cooperation and less partisan bickering.
"We need to have more respect for each other," said Sen. Steve Pierce, R-Prescott. "It's been gone down there."
He said Brewer can help restore that, and predicted more bipartisan cooperation next session.
That's also the assessment of House Minority Leader Chad Campbell.
"We put aside the politics," he said. "We put aside the rhetoric, at least some of us put aside the rhetoric."

HB 2305 is incredibly insidious. While I have not been able to talk with a legislative analyst about it yet, and there is still no fact sheet or summary posted on the legislature's website, I've taken a first look at changes to nominating petition formulas the bill makes if enacted.

The Arizona Democratic Party began work on a spreadsheet showing the current law and requirements as they stand with current voter registration counts and then with the changes. The spreadsheet needs some tweeking and when it is completed, I hope to post it for you to see exactly what changes mean in petition signatures required by office/district for the legislature, for Congress and for statewide offices.

The bottom line is that the changes will make it tremendously more difficult for candidates to get on the ballot except for those affiliated with the Republican Party.

Party Statewide Voter Reg Current law HB2305
Amer Elect 267 1 5,376
Democrats 979,171 4,896 5,376
Green 5,119 26 5,376
Libertarian 23,926 120 5,376
Republican 1,141,700 5,709 5,376
Other 1,075,334 5,377 5,376
total 3,225,517

Voter registration by party for all districts statewide is the first column. Current law requires candidates for statewide offices get the minimum number of signatures in the second column, based on registration for that party. The third column is the required signature threshold if HB2305 is enacted. The GOP gets off with easier access to the ballot. Every other recognized party has much higher barriers.

Speaking briefly with Sen. Steve Gallardo on Monday afternoon at the screening committee meeting for AIRC applicants, he pointed out the severability clause at the end of the bill.
Sec. 19.  Severability If a provision of this act or its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the invalidity does not affect other provisions or applications of the act that can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions of this act are severable.

The practical ramifications of severability is that it is Eddie Farnsworth and Michele Reagan DARING voter interests to take this bill to court. Preferably, however, Brewer will veto the bill and the controversy will die then and there.

To that end, Sen. Gallardo is hosting a press conference this morning at 10am:
STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senator Steve Gallardo will host a press conference with the leaders of Arizona political parties urging Governor Brewer to veto HB 2305
WHO: Senator Steve Gallardo
Barry Hess, chair of the Arizona Libertarian Party
Angel Torres, co-chair of the Arizona Green Party
DJ Quinlan, executive director of the Arizona Democratic Party
WHEN: Tuesday, June 18th at 10 a.m.
WHERE: Senate Democratic Caucus Room, on the first floor just past the elevators.
More to come on voter suppression efforts by the Arizona Republican Party as they develop. But if what Fischer reported, and Sen. Steve Pierce was quoted as saying is true, then maybe Brewer will veto this incredibly divisive piece of legislation.


On Wednesday, June 19, Gov. Brewer signed the Voter Suppression bill into law. As I write this update, Sen. Steve Gallardo (D-Maryvale) is holding a press conference on the subject. When I spoke with him on Monday, he alluded to the possibility of a referendum.
Her signature Wednesday on House Bill 2305 ushers in a wave of changes, from limits on who can return a voter’s ballot to the polls, to stricter controls on citizen initiatives, to tougher requirements for minor-party candidates to qualify for the Arizona ballot.
Matthew Benson, the governor’s spokesman, said the legislation is “common-sense.”
“This measure enjoyed the broad support of county clerks and recorders across the state of Arizona, as well as the Secretary of State’s Office,” he told The Arizona Republic. “It’s viewed as a critical election reform bill that will help make sure that Arizonans don’t have to wait weeks on end for election results every two years.
He said concerns that the legislation will disenfranchise voters “are overblown. For the most part, these are common-sense recommendations.”
To properly interpret Benson's statement on behalf of the governor, it's important to understand that his job is to justify decisions Brewer makes, not to be at all candid. For example claims that this measure was supported by the Secretary of State and county elections officials, to be properly understood, must have context (that Benson doesn't provide). County elections officials are looking out mainly for themselves, not the voters. They want to simplify what they have to do for elections. Anything that can artificially suppress the complexities that caused them to mess up so badly last fall is good -- in their eyes.

Look for MUCH more on this subject in the days to come. This will not easily blow over.

And as I reported several days ago,
Following reportedly heavy lobbying by the Republican National Committee, McComish executed a parliamentary procedure that allowed him to bring the bill up for reconsideration. The bill passed on reconsideration 16-13-1. Pierce, Crandall and McComish changing their votes. If I can find a citation for the connection between the RNC lobbying and the reconsideration, I'll update this post. In the meantime, it's just something I had heard. But it is certainly plausible that the RNC would be very interested in suppressing the expected increasing power of the Latino vote in Arizona.
This afternoon, the Arizona Capitol Times reported (here are excerpts), 
Sen. Steve Pierce was under tremendous pressure from forces within and outside the state Capitol – including at least one official from the National Republican Congressional Committee –during the hours before sine die as lawmakers and others tried to influence his vote on a controversial election bill.
Pierce told the Arizona Capitol Times that Daniel Scarpinato, the national spokesman for the NRCC, called him that evening to discuss HB2305. The Prescott Republican initially voted against the bill but then cast the decisive sixteenth vote on reconsideration that approved the legislation.
Several GOP lawmakers told the Capitol Times that Scarpinato helped facilitate a call between Pierce and U.S. House Speaker John Boehner. Other Republican lawmakers said they’d heard rumors that Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and other national GOP leaders may have been involved in discussions with Pierce, whose initial no vote had effectively killed the bill’s chances of passing the Senate.
Sen. Rich Crandall, R-Mesa, said Pierce told him that he was under pressure “from Boehner’s office and the NRCC” in a message via Twitter.

Several lawmakers were seen badgering Pierce on the Senate floor before, during and after his initial vote against HB2305. The measure gained notoriety after it was amended to include several measures supported by Arizona county recorders that Latino organizations said will suppress minority voters.
But the little-known provision equalizing candidate signature requirements for all parties sensationalized debate on the bill just before the Legislature adjourned, as GOP lawmakers ferociously pushed to guide the legislation through the Senate.
Lawmakers such as Rep. Adam Kwasman, R-Oro Valley – considered a likely congressional candidate in 2014 – were seen on the Senate floor arguing with Pierce, who repeatedly told lawmakers and the press that he voted no because he gave his word to do so.
Pierce relented and cast the necessary sixteenth vote in the Senate to approve HB2305 on reconsideration, but only after he was released from his promise, he told the Capitol Times.
Many hoped that such brazen power grabs by Arizona GOP lawmakers was gone as the supermajority that party enjoyed in the previous legislature (2011-2012) evaporated. But it's clear that any party that operates with that much power is going to abuse it. In this case, they cleverly snuck through, at the very last minute, this measure that had faced tremendous opposition for months.

This must be seen as an abuse of power and the people of Arizona shown just how unabashed the efforts to disenfranchise every voter except Republicans truly has been.


  1. How much time does Governor Brewer have to sign it? Could she wait until after SCOTUS rules on Section 5?

  2. The governor has a specific time limit for acting on bills sent to her from the legislature. We do not know when the Supreme Court will issue its ruling. http://www.statescape.com/resources/governors/govsigndeadline.aspx