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State legislature voting bill could harm ASU students who vote early

The Arizona State House introduced a bill that would make it more difficult to vote as an absentee in future elections

Absentee voting

"Students have little time to wait in lines to vote, putting them at risk as the Arizona GOP tries to make voting by mail harder across the state." Published on Monday, Feb. 15, 2021.

Republican lawmakers have introduced a bill to the state legislature that would make absentee voting more difficult in future elections.

House Bill 2369, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Payne, R-Peoria, would require signatures on early ballots be notarized in order to be accepted.

The bill would affect ASU students who choose to vote as Arizona absentees. The National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement found that 48.2% of ASU students voted early and 14.6% of ASU students voted by mail in 2018, numbers that will likely increase in the 2020 report due to a boost in absentee and early voting during the 2020 presidential election because of the pandemic. 

An analysis of election data by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University found that 70% of young people from the ages of 18 to 29 voted early or absentee in 2020. 

Daanish Daudi, a freshman studying business law and campus organizer for the Arizona Students’ Association, said most of the students he interacted with while registering people to vote on ASU's campus last year were voting absentee.

"I did also observe the polls on the actual election day, and even if we were closer to ASU campus, there were still a lot more adults coming through and voting in person, while students were opting to vote by mail," Daudi said.

Many voting rights advocates argued against requiring absentee ballots to be notarized during the 2020 presidential election, citing the extra difficulty added in returning the ballot. 

“(Notarization) is incredibly arduous and a literal poll tax as it costs money to get things notarized,” Cyrus Commissariat, a senior studying political science, history and french and team leader of Vote Everywhere ASU, said. “This is just draconian and out of step with the priorities of the average Arizonan.”

Students like Rishab Chatty, a freshman studying global studies and political science, are planning to vote by mail more frequently, which would be made more difficult by this bill.

“Being a college student and working in multiple positions and projects at the same time, I personally don't have time to wait in lines for eight hours at a time to participate in the electoral process,” Chatty said.

Chatty is an out of state student currently living in California who plans on changing his voter registration to Arizona.

Sen. Martín Quezada, D-Glendale, introduced a bill countering Payne's bill, aiming to strengthen voting rights by allowing ballots issued at early voting locations to be tabulated without signature verification if the voter presents proper identification, and allowing convicted felons to vote upon release from prison.

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs endorsed Quezada’s bill, writing on Twitter, “the (Government) Committee has already heard far too many bills that create barriers for voters.”

One of those bills, Senate Bill 1069, aimed at purging Arizona's permanent early voter list, failed in the Senate Tuesday.

HB 2369 is being reviewed by the House Rules Committee, with no word on when it will be put to a vote.

"ASU students will absolutely continue to vote by mail, because quite frankly it is secure and it is the easiest way to vote," Commissariat said.

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Reagan PriestManaging Editor

Reagan Priest is a managing editor, overseeing and working with the six digital desks at The State Press. She previously worked as a social justice reporter for Cronkite News and as a digital production intern at The Arizona Republic.

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