Arizona Legislature sends measure on voter identification requirements for mail-in ballots and in-person voting to Nov. 8 ballot

On Nov. 8, Arizona voters will decide a measure making multiple changes to Arizona’s voter identification and mail-in ballot policies.

The measure would require a voter to include their date of birth and voter identification number for mail-in ballots, in addition to the existing signature requirement. Election officials would check the dates of birth and identification numbers, which would be concealed within the vote-by-mail envelope, against voter registration records. Any of the following could be used as the voter identification number for mail-in ballots under the measure:

  • a driver’s license or non-operating identification license number,
  • the last four digits of a social security number, or
  • a unique identifying number provided by the secretary of state for voter registration purposes.

Arizona’s Citizens Clean Elections Commission estimated that 89% of voters cast 2020 ballots using early voting, mail-in ballots.

The measure would also eliminate the existing alternative to photo ID for in-person voting that allows a voter to present two documents with their name and address but no photograph.

The legislature must pass a legislatively referred statute such as SCR 1012 by a simple majority of all members in each chamber. On Feb. 24, the state Senate approved Senate Concurrent Resolution 1012 (SCR 1012) proposing this measure by a vote of 16-12, with two not voting. Sixteen votes were required in the Senate. On Feb. 28, the state House approved SCR 1012 by a vote of 31-26, with three not voting. Thirty-one votes were required in the House. Votes in both chambers were along party lines with Republicans in favor and Democrats against.

The legislatively referred state statute is similar to a 2022 initiative filed by Arizonans for Voter ID, a group sponsored by the Arizona Free Enterprise Club. The initiative was also backed by Sen. J.D. Mesnard, the sponsor of SCR 1012, and other Republicans in the legislature. Mesnard sponsored a similar bill in 2021, but it failed in the House by two votes, after which Arizonans for Voter ID filed the citizen initiative.

Rep. John Kavanagh (R) said, concerning the existing mail-in system that requires the voter’s signature, that examples of voters’ signatures are too readily available. Kavanagh stated, “This bill closes a weak link in the security chain of our election system.”

Rep. Mitzi Epstein (D) responded to the resolution, saying, “This is not about voter ID, because we all agree voter ID works in Arizona. Voter ID is fine. We respect and appreciate voter ID laws. But this, this is barrier after hoop after lava pit after problem after more barriers. This is voter suppression.”

SCR 1012 would amend certain provisions of Proposition 200, a citizen initiative Arizona voters approved in 2004. In Arizona, the legislature cannot amend or repeal a citizen initiative without putting the measure on the ballot for voter approval. California is the only other state besides Arizona that prohibits the legislature from amending or repealing citizen initiatives without voter approval.

SCR 1012 was the fifth statewide measure certified for Arizona’s 2022 ballot. The other four measures concern income taxes, in-state tuition for non-citizens, and changes to the state’s initiative process. One was put on the ballot through a veto referendum signature petition, and the legislature put the other three on the ballot.

The measure was the 70th statewide measure certified for 2022 ballots across 31 states. It is currently the only certified ballot measure that addresses voter identification laws. Additionally, voter ID-related initiatives have been approved for signature gathering in California, Michigan, Nebraska, and Nevada.

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