(CNN)Arizona just became the latest Republican-led battleground to impose new voting restrictions, enacting a law that could purge tens of thousands of voters from the state’s early mail-in ballot list.
And in other key states, GOP lawmakers are charging ahead with efforts to change the ground rules for future elections — with big bills pending in Texas, Michigan and elsewhere.
As Republicans erect barriers to the ballot box, voting rights advocates are putting fresh pressure on congressional Democrats to pass a sweeping federal rewrite of election rules to counter the new laws. But a contentious committee meeting in an evenly divided Senate only underscores the near-insurmountable hurdles Democrats face in passing their elections overhaul.
A law signed last Tuesday by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey targets the state’s Permanent Early Voting List. Under that system, people on the list automatically receive a ballot for every election.
The new law removes voters from the list if they fail to cast an early mail-in ballot in at least one primary or general election in a four-year period and don’t respond to mailed notices warning them of their removal.
But voting in person during that window won’t count as casting a mail ballot.
Proponents say the change will ensure ballots aren’t going to people who have died or moved. Critics, who say the new law could affect as many as 150,000 voters, argue it will make it harder for occasional voters to participate in elections and could disproportionately affect rural and minority voters.
Barring a ballot fix
The new law came just days after Ducey signed another controversial measure that bars election officials from establishing a grace period for voters who forget to sign their mail-in ballot to fix the problem.
As a result, mail-in ballots must be signed by 7 p.m. on Election Day to be counted.
The Navajo Nation had gone to court to demand extra time for ballot fixes. And last week, tribal leaders denounced the new laws, noting that tribal members often live hundreds of miles away from election offices.
An analysis by The Arizona Republic found Native American voters in Arizona overwhelmingly supported President Joe Biden last November. Biden flipped the traditionally red state by fewer than 11,000 votes.
“The voting power of the Navajo people changed the outcome of the 2020 election in the state of Arizona and certain groups did not like it,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said in a statement. “It’s voter suppression; it’s voter disenfranchisement, and it’s an unprecedented attack on our right to vote.”
Arizona law still gives voters five business days to “cure” or fix mismatched signatures on mail-in ball
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