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Arizona’s rare rejection of voter ID law

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As a testing ground for election denial, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything better than Arizona in 2022. Despite its recent drift to swing statehood, Arizona’s Republican Party has been taken over by extreme elements and appointed Holocaust deniers for every state office. And his defeated gubernatorial candidate, Kari Lake, appears to be the only high-profile Republican to make the baseless claim that her election was stolen.

The verdict on the state’s GOP descent into denial was already pretty clear, thanks to the losses of Lake and others like Senate nominee Blake Masters and nominee for Secretary of State Mark Finchem.

But don’t sleep on the state’s latest result: voters’ highly unusual rejection of a voter ID measure. Proposition 309 backs down less than a percentage point, but the Associated Press projected late Wednesday that it was defeated.

Despite state Republicans’ emphasis on “election integrity,” it appears to be the first time in a decade that voters — in any state — have rejected stricter voter ID.

Arizona already has a voter registration card. But the ballot measure was intended to force anyone voting in person to use photo ID, whereas the law currently allows those without photo ID to provide two alternative documents, such as a utility bill. For mail-in voters, the measure would have required them to register their dates of birth and either voter identification numbers, driver’s license or ID card numbers, or a partial Social Security number. Currently, voters only have to sign and date.

The rejection is notable not just because of the GOP’s focus on voter fraud (despite the lack of evidence that this is truly a significant or pervasive problem). It’s also notable because voter ID is something the vast majority of Americans support, at least on a superficial level: A January poll from Monmouth University found that 80% of Americans supported ” require voters to show photo ID” to vote.

That number might be overstating things: some people might like the idea of ​​an ID in theory, but may not insist on a new rule strictly requiring photo ID that not everyone has .

But the rejection is still quite historic.

According to the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center. In 2012, Minnesota voters rejected a measure that would have required photo ID, 54% to 46%.

Most importantly, voters were eager to sign off on strengthening these demands:

  • Arizona voters in 2004 adopted the current requirements. They did it by a 56-44 margin.
  • Oklahoma, by a whopping 74-to-26 margin, passed a law in 2010 that required either photo ID or the voter to sign an affidavit when provisionally voting. (These laws generally allow those without photo ID to vote provisionally, which requires jumping through additional hoops for your ballot to be counted.)
  • Missouri in 2016 voted 62 to 37 for a measure allowing the state government to require voter ID, but not necessarily photo ID.
  • In 2018, Arkansas and North Carolina passed new laws with margins of 79-21 and 55-45, respectively. Each person must show photo ID to vote in person. (North Carolina’s law has yet to be enforced, as it has been blocked by the courts, and the state Supreme Court is deliberating on whether the law was tainted by the state’s unlawful gerrymander .)
  • And as recently as this last election, Nebraska voters by a margin of 66 to 34 passed a measure to amend the state Constitution to require photo ID.

Precisely why Arizona delivered this move from such an unusual loss is complicated. There has been a concerted push against the ballot measure, which opponents say could disenfranchise voters. The Arizona Association of County Recorders, which represents local election officials in the state’s 15 counties, opposed it. The association said it was too cumbersome, could delay the count and could even compromise the privacy of voters’ data by forcing them to submit sensitive personal information by post.

And it also might have mattered that Arizona is a state where voting by mail is important, which means voters don’t necessarily see as much value in requiring something to vote in person that isn’t necessary to vote by mail.

But the rejection of voter identification measures, often touted as the simplest means of ensuring election integrity, in a state where voter denial has been so rampant should not escape anyone.

Voter ID has been in the works for years, most often thanks to GOP-controlled state legislatures, but also, sometimes, thanks to voters themselves.

You don’t have to be an election denier to support voter ID, but it was surely a measure of public sensitivity to the kind of election skepticism expressed by the Arizona GOP. The fact that Arizona voters decided this proposal went too far — in this place of all places and at this time of all time — is just the latest indication that voter denial has fallen completely flat. in the 2022 elections.



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