I hate to say this, but I have become used to Arizona weirdness. Now, that’s not an endorsement, just a personal statement.
I can handle Arizona’s attractiveness to The Daily Show producers. They’re in show business and we are a hotbed of comic relief — at least to those who don’t live here.
Then there are moments that defy humor. As when voter suppression becomes a social norm. Such as is happening right now.
HB 2305 is the latest effort to suppress the votes of Democrats and minority voters. In other words, everyone but Republicans. And the worst part of it, at least to this Doc, has to do with the PERMANENT early voter file. Pay close attention to that word “PERMANENT.”
The PERMANENT early voter list was designed and intended to enable voters to cast their ballots from home using the USPS. And it was intended to be PERMANENT. As in don’t mess around with it.
But some, including at least one Arizona Republic columnist, seem to have it in their heads that PERMANENT means something less than “forever and ever.” From what I can tell, they must believe that “PERMANENT” means something like painting your house with watercolors: it looks okay when its fresh, but with the first rain you’re SOL.
As many of you know — I’ve written about this before — watching AZTV is the best political show in town. And I can remember watching as this deal was going down. Now I have to admit that nobody testified that the purpose behind tanking the PERMANENT early voter list was intended to suppress the vote. No…instead there was a parade of “elections supervisors” from the 15 county clerks’ offices. With Maricopa County elections bureaucrats in the lead, they said that having so many people on the PERMANENT early voter list caused them some kind of extra work or hardship. Boo hoo.
Never wanting to miss a trick, the GOP committee members must have been moved by their plight and said that people on the PERMANENT early voter list could be removed if they had not voted recently. That caused committee member state Senator Steve Gallardo (D-Common Sense) to go completely batshit.
And with good reason.
The entire purpose of the PERMANENT early voting list was to increase voter participation, not squash it. And, sure enough, as more and more people started using that voting option, a growing number of “minority” voters began using it. Getting people on the PERMANENT early voting list has become a staple of various voter registration drives. And that, in turn, has been causing Republican officials heartburn as they see their advantages slipping away while their white guy numbers continue to head downward as a percentage of the population. Boo hoo.
So around the country, including Arizona, they’ve been dreaming up schemes to keep a voter participation edge. Photo ID’s to vote, kicking people off the PERMANENT early voter list, gerrymandering legislative districts to ensure House and Senate majorities, photo ID’s to prevent voter fraud (despite the fact that there are more people getting caught at expired parking meters than committing voter fraud), etc.
Not ready to lay down and be willingly trampled on, an unlikely coalition of Democrats, Libertarians, Greens, Latino groups, organized labor and others popped up to block enforcement of HB2305 by running a petition drive to put the measure on the ballot in 2014. And unless there is monkey business during the signature certification process that is conducted by the 15 county clerks offices (yeah, you read that right), they’re going to be successful. The proposed law will be blocked pending that 2014 vote when, one would hope, the majority of voters, including those on the PERMANENT early voter list will tank this grotesque assault on voting rights.