New Restrictions On Early Ballots

Feb 13, 2013

A Senate panel voted this week to put new restrictions on who can help people with their early ballots. Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer explains.

Current law allows someone to give his or her early ballot to anyone else to drop off at the polls. This measure would restrict that right to family members - and make it a felony for anyone else to do that. The plan resulted in a parade of those with volunteer groups claiming that their work with the elderly and minorities to get them to vote will be thwarted.

Democrat Steve Gallardo said it's none of hte state's business who voters give their ballots to. Gallardo asked, "isn't that up to the voters to determine who they trust? Why are we as a legislative body, as a government, telling voters who they have to trust? This is who you have to trust. Anyone else you can't trust. And that's exactly what we're doing with this bill." He went on to say the legislation would dilute minority voting strength.

Republican Michele Reagan said volunteers are important, saying she helps people sign up to vote and even drives them to the polls. But, Reagan said, "I do not collect a laundry basket full of ballots and think it's OK to walk it in to a polling place, something as sacred as somebody's vote."

And Republican Adam Driggs said there's absolutely no reason individuals cannot put their ballots in the mail themselves. The party line vote sends the measure to the full Senate.