The Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans, Priorities USA and Voto Latino announced a legal challenge to Arizona SB 1260. The bill radically alters Arizona’s voting laws by threatening the ability of Arizonans to cast a ballot if they have previously registered to vote in another state or another Arizona county and have not canceled those registrations. The bill was signed into law in June and is scheduled to take effect on September 24, 2022. The lawsuit is funded by Priorities USA.
SB 1260 criminalizes those individuals and organizations who provide voting assistance to Arizona voters if the voter they are helping is registered to vote in another state. This is troubling for various reasons but specifically due to the fact that having multiple voter registrations is quite common especially among young voters, college students, older voters who have moved to Arizona, and other transient voters who are more likely to be poor and non-white. There is no requirement to cancel your voter registration after you’ve moved, and in many states, canceling a voter registration can be a complicated, burdensome process. An act as simple as handing a ballot to a family member who is registered in another state is potentially criminalized under SB 1260, making it extremely difficult for individuals and organizations to register and engage voters without first confirming their registration status.
The bill also requires county recorders to cancel a voter’s registration and remove them from the early voting list without any notice simply because the voter is registered in another county. In fact, two county recorders could simultaneously cancel the voter’s registration without notice. This could leave countless voters without any voter registration at all.
Finally, SB 1260 allows third parties to provide county recorders with “credible information” that voters have registrations in other counties, which would then force county recorders to confirm those voters’ registration status and cancel those registrations and remove those voters from the early voting list. This enables third parties to engage in coordinated voter suppression by sending county recorders on endless investigations to cancel voter registrations of targeted groups.
People of color are disproportionately impacted by errors in efforts to cancel voter registrations and will likely be disempowered politically by this law. Arizona is a state where the overwhelming majority of voters vote early by mail, and these new provisions create significant barriers for millions of Arizona voters to access their constitutional right to vote.
The complaint will challenge the bill on constitutional grounds. If the state does not timely remedy the obvious violations of the National Voter Registration Act, then claims under the NVRA will be added to the complaint.
“This is far from the first time a Republican legislature has attempted to disguise their racist voter suppression as an effort to clean up the voter rolls,” said Aneesa McMillan, Deputy Executive Director of Priorities USA. “Priorities USA has consistently identified these discriminatory efforts and we will continue to secure relief for voters through litigation. Every Arizona voter, specifically voters of color who are disproportionately impacted by these efforts, deserves free and equal access to the ballot. It is clear that Republicans will continue to stand in the way of marginalized communities’ access to the franchise and Priorities is more than prepared to combat these suppression efforts in the courts.”
“The members of the Arizona Alliance understand that the right to vote is sacred. Educating our members and seniors across the state about how to register and cast their ballots is one of our top priorities,” said Saundra Cole, President of the Alliance for Retired Americans. “SB 1260 is almost certain to disenfranchise older Arizonans who may have moved to the state to retire, or moved from their long-time home to live in a retirement community or nursing home, or with a family member. We wholeheartedly oppose this voter suppression law.”
“The Alliance for Retired Americans is fighting to make sure every one of our 4.4 million members nationwide, and all older Americans, can exercise their fundamental constitutional right to vote,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans. “That means challenging laws that are designed to suppress votes and will disenfranchise our members and older Americans.”
“SB 1260 is designed to make it harder to vote and to threaten organizers helping communities engage in the electoral process. It’s a clear example of far-right politicians attempting to block some voters from accessing the ballot box instead of trying to win their votes. Arizona voters, and Latino voters in particular, pay a steep price when voter suppression runs rampant, and it’s critical that courts stand up to defend their fundamental right to participate in our democracy,” said Maria Teresa Kumar, President of Voto Latino.