My office won a court order to send impartial observers to the audit, and I try to keep the public informed about its dangers. For insisting on straightforward truths, I and my family have received death threats. Armed protesters have shown up at my home. Twice, I’ve been assigned a security detail to protect me.
Most Arizonans — Democrats, Republicans and independents — understand that the audit is a farce. They saw the 2020 election with their own eyes, and they don’t want their ballots scrutinized by a shadowy, partisan company.
But Republicans aren’t just protesting the results of our most recent presidential election; they are laying the groundwork to steal the next one. They are sowing doubt about our electoral process to justify a crackdown on voting rights: The 2020 election was insecure, they say, and so our next election must be airtight. This twisted logic has propelled voter-suppression laws across the country, in Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Montana and other states.
Here, Republicans just got rid of one of Arizona’s most effective voting measures: the Permanent Early Voter List. Previously, anyone who signed up for the list would automatically receive a mail-in ballot at their home for each election they are eligible to vote in. This law, enacted by a Republican-controlled state legislature in 2007, is hugely popular: Some 75 percent of eligible voters relied on the list to receive their mail-in ballots in 2020, and nearly 80 percent decided to vote by mail.
Last month, though, Gov. Doug Ducey (R) signed legislation that removes people from the list if they do not vote by mail in two election cycles — even if they choose to vote by other methods. This subtle adjustment — changing the Permanent Early Voter List to the Active Early Voter List — could prevent more than 100,000 Arizonans from receiving their ballots. And Republicans will not stop there. Several other bills, each designed to further restrict access to voting, are under consideration in the Arizona legislature.
I am working with our legislators to defeat those bills, many of which are designed to depress turnout of minority and lower-income voters. But with Republicans in control of both chambers of our legislature, my options on a state level are limited. So I am sounding the alarm and appealing to my Democratic colleagues in Washington for help.
The U.S. Senate is currently considering two voting rights bills. One, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, would prevent states from passing further measures to restrict ballot access that disproportionately target minority voters. But that legislation would do nothing to roll back anti-voting laws that are already on the books. Republicans have instituted 22 voter-suppression laws in 14 states so far this year. To simply let these regressive measures stand would be to abandon our duty as public officials.
Another federal bill, the For the People Act, would strike down the senseless restrictions that Republicans have rushed to impose. What’s more, the bill includes many long overdue, common-sense ideas that would expand voting rights such as automatic national voter registration. Passing these provisions would be a huge victory — not for Democrats specifically but for democracy.
Yet the For the People Act is in jeopardy because 50 Republican senators and several Democratic ones are not taking the steps needed to pass it. Democrats including Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona either do not support the bill or refuse to touch the filibuster — an arcane Senate rule that has often been used to block voting rights — in order to bring the bill to a vote.
Sinema and I serve the same state. We both know that if we do nothing now, Arizonans’ access to the ballot will be stripped away by Republican legislators. If Republicans want to make the right to vote a partisan issue, that’s their problem. I know — and I believe that U.S. senators know, too — that access to the ballot isn’t a red or blue policy but a basic American value.
Voter-suppression efforts in Arizona are part of a nationwide dismantling of voting rights — the most sustained and egregious assault on U.S. democracy since the Jim Crow era. I am taking what steps I can to fight back on a local level. But I cannot succeed without help from Congress. Please, act decisively and pass the For the People Act. We are running out of time.