Saturday, June 15, 2013

Voter Suppression bill sent to Brewer; Complaint sent to DOJ

Less than 24 hours after the Arizona Legislature passed HB2305, sending it to Gov. Brewer for her signature, former state Assistant Attorney General Vince Rabago filed a 53-page complaint with the Chief, Civil Rights Division, US Department of Justice alleging specific instances of voter suppression from the 2012 general election in Maricopa, Pima and Yuma counties in Arizona.

Rabago's complaint includes affidavits from persons who received robocalls in Spanish with false information about last fall's election; affidavits from a Latino candidate for sheriff in Yuma County, his wife and another relative, detailing troublesome elections practices and officials; copies of the Congressional Record from confirmation hearings for former Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist detailing his participation in voter suppression activities in Arizona prior to being appointed to the court; news reports from last fall of Maricopa County elections officials having released Spanish language documents citing an incorrect date for the general election and other dubious elections practices; and news reports about efforts earlier in the regular legislative session to pass voter suppression legislation.

Of course, as some observers suspected, a highly contentious bill -- HB2305 -- was amended in a conference committee and passed at the eleventh hour, shortly before the session adjourned sine die.

As I reported last month,
Standing together, they (along with the more sane Republicans) can kill the Elections Ominous bill. Among the sinister provisions of that bill, Michele Reagan's bills to throw voters off of the Permanent Early Voting List (PEVL) and making it a felony for activists to collect and deliver signed and sealed (and therefore NOT tampered with) early ballots to polling places or county elections offices.
As I understand it, there is no uncertainty among policy analysts that the intent of such bills is to suppress minority voter rights. At minimum, such a bill would be subject to court challenge even if the US Supreme Court strikes down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (decision expected next month on that issue). Court challenges mean -- at minimum -- sinking large amounts of taxpayer funds into attorney fees.
As it turns out, the first vote in the Senate on HB2305 DID kill the bill. 13 Aye, 16 Nay, and 1 not voting. The "sane Republicans" in this situation being Steve Pierce, Rich Crandall and John McComish.

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.

Further, as of this posting, there is still no updated legislative fact sheet or summary at for HB2305.

I hope to be able to speak with an analyst about this bill on Monday.

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