Voter groups are fighting to block a law that could criminalize voter registration in Arizona

Voter groups claim the law is subjective and gives officials the tools to suppress voters’ rights.

PHOENIX (CN) — Voter unions are suing Arizona to block a new law that could criminalize volunteers or organizations that provide registration or voter assistance to people registered to vote out of state.

According to the federal complaint filed Monday night in Phoenix, Senate Bill 1260 is a vague piece of legislation that offers officials subjective measures to target volunteers and constituencies that provide erroneous voters with a “mechanism to vote.”

“The term ‘voting mechanism’ is not defined, but the statute expressly states that it is broad enough to include the mere act of ‘forwarding an early voting vote’ to the voter,” the 30-page lawsuit reads.

Plaintiffs Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans, Voto Latino, and Priorities USA all offer voting to the public. They claim their volunteers, or even a voter’s family member, could face Class 5 felony charges over the voting-assist glitches.

“Imagine an Arizona parent receiving an early ballot in the mail for their child who has just graduated from college out of state but is eligible to vote in Arizona,” the groups say in their complaint. “That parent could face felony charges if they forward the student’s early ballot to them if the student has at some point registered to vote in their out-of-state college town — even if the student has no intention of voting, and.” this also never does in two places”.

According to the groups, the new requirements will disenfranchise staff or volunteers and hinder their mission. The law’s crime provision would require groups to proactively confirm that voters never registered or that the voter canceled their registration out of state.

“This risk will severely impact voter registration and mobilization efforts in Arizona, placing an undue burden on groups and individuals involved in these efforts and voters who benefit,” the lawsuit states.

The groups also assert a separate provision, the annulment and removal provision, which wrongfully annuls mail-in ballots for people moving from a county, leaving voters constantly waiting for their ballots.

“The cancellation and removal provisions do not require district clerks to notify the voter or seek their consent before canceling their voter registration or removing them from the active early voting list; In fact, they do not require county clerks to do any research about the voter at all, including finding out where the voter currently resides and intends to vote,” the Aug. 15 lawsuit reads. “The distance determination will also have a significant impact on voting rights as the overwhelming majority of Arizonans will vote early by mail.”

The provision also reportedly gives officials the ability to remove voters from the lists by accepting information from third parties, which defines some voters as unelectable.

“The cancellation and removal provisions also allow third parties to compel county clerks to cancel voter registrations and remove voters from the active early voting list by allowing third parties to provide county clerks with ‘credible information that an individual is present to vote in another county ,'” the complaint reads. “Annulment and removal provisions do not define the term ‘credible information,’ nor do they require county registries to investigate such information.”

Maria Teresa Kumar, President and CEO of Voto Latino, said in a statement Monday that the law was an “affront to democracy.”

“SB 1260 is a perfect example of legislation designed to exploit unfounded fears of voter fraud to make it harder for eligible voters to vote,” she said. “Politicians in Arizona have piled barriers in front of voting booths simply because they don’t like the kind of voters who want to vote in our elections. This is not just an affront to democracy; It is an attack on communities that deserve to be heard on election day and have politicians responsive to their needs.”

The groups are represented by Roy Herrera of Herrera Arellano in Phoenix and Aria Branch of Elias Law Group in Washington, DC

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