Arizona Gov. Signs Election Integrity Bill That Aims to Prevent Felons from Registering to Vote

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey (R) signed a Senate bill (SB) into law recently intended, the bill’s sponsor State Senator Kelly Townsend (R-Pinal) said, to ensure that felons cannot register to vote.

“There is this misconception that only lawfully eligible people are voting within the state of Arizona, and we’ve seen plenty of evidence that this has not been the case, especially most recently during the 2020 election,” Townsend said.

“We have a lot of work to do when it comes to cleaning up our voter rolls, and I believe this is a step in the right direction. I’m thankful that this loophole within our system was brought to light, and that we’ve been able to pass commonsense legislation that forces us to use the tools that we already have to strengthen the security of our elections. Our vote is the most sacred action we can take as an American citizen, and I will continue to fight to ensure only legal votes are counted.”

The new measure requires monthly communication between the Superior Court clerks and the Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D), which includes a record of all convicted felons from each county for that month. Hobbs must use that information to ensure no felons are registered to vote and must contact the appropriate county recorder to cancel the registration if there are any.

Under Arizona law, it is illegal for a felon to vote or register to vote. However, SB 1477 comes after a 2021 ABC15 investigation found a loophole in the voter registration system that allowed felons to register to vote illegally.

According to the investigation, “[Y]ears after a felony conviction, there is no existing way for Arizona election officials to tell who remains ineligible or whether their civil rights were restored.”

Another ABS15 investigation conducted at the same time found that dozens of felons were illegally registered to vote after communicating with former Phoenix mayoral candidate Tim Seay.

Tammie Cook, with three prior felony cases, spoke with Seay about restoring her rights. She was registered to vote only a day after talking to Seay. When Cook called the Maricopa County Superior Court, she learned her rights were never officially restored.

Having a false voter registration is a class 6 felony.

SB 1477 is only one in a list of election integrity bills signed into Arizona law in the past year. Recently, Ducey signed House Bill (HB) 2492, sponsored by State Representative Jake Hoffman (R-Queen Creek). This bill requires proof of citizenship to register to vote in any election in Arizona, outside of the congressional elections, which federal law prohibits.

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Neil Jones is a reporter for The Arizona Sun Times and Star News Media. Follow Neil on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Doug Ducey” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0. Background Photo “Election Day 2020” by Phil Roeder. CC BY 2.0.


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