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Four ballot propositions could change the way Arizonans vote

Matt York
AP Photo

Arizona is a state to watch in the midterm elections between a high-profile race for governor and U.S. Senate. But four propositions on the ballot could seriously impact the way Arizonans vote in future elections. One would give Arizona some of the strictest voter identification laws in the nation.

KNAU’s Bree Burkitt asked Northern Arizona University politics professor Fred Solop to weigh in on the voting propositions.

Can we talk a little bit more about Prop 309, which would make voter identification a little bit more extreme in the state?

Prop 309 is very interesting because it extends the voter ID requirements that we currently have in Arizona. This proposition would enhance the requirements for voter ID. For instance, it would require photo identification when you go to the polls to vote, it would require that additional information, like a driver's license number, government-issued ID number would be added to an early ballot. So this is an attempt for our legislature to move further down the path to impose voter ID laws in the state. Unfortunately, we know that voter ID laws also restrict the electorate.

And so let's talk about another one that makes voting a little bit more challenging, especially passing voter-driven amendments — that's Prop 132. Instead of a simple majority, you would need 60% to pass a proposition in this state. What does that mean for voters?

Well, let me just be specific that you would need 60% to pass a proposition that involves a tax increase. This in itself is about disenfranchising voters. So you could have a majority of voters — you could have 59% of voters say they want a particular policy to be put in place — But if it if it involves a tax and it doesn't reach the 60% threshold, those 59% of voters will be overruled. So it's not about majority rules anymore if this passes.

And so when we look at Prop 211, which is sort of on the opposite end of the spectrum, which would ban big money, donations from anonymous sources and improve our reporting requirements. What’s going on there?

Essentially, dark money expenditures, in this situation, would be any spending over $50,000 on a statewide campaign, or $25,000 on other campaigns, would require disclosure of donors. So it's in the vein of good democracy — let's know who's pitching into politics and supporting these candidates. The effort was there previously to get it on the ballot, it didn't get on the ballot. We're here again with a citizen-driven initiative and we'll see what happens this time around.

Then so we look at proposition 129, which wants to simplify our propositions going forward so that it can only cover one subject at a time. Are there any issues with that?

The concern here is that what constitutes multiple issues being in a proposition versus what constitutes single issues? The argument is that some of these initiatives are pretty complex and may involve different components. There's some examples of this in the past, like Arizona has voted repeatedly to legalize marijuana, but that proposition to legalize marijuana also included other elements to it. For instance, it included an element that people who were in jail for marijuana offenses would be released from jail that if we're going to say marijuana is recreational marijuana is legal. That would be defined under this proposition that'd be defined as two issues and would be found illegal and the courts could throw it out. The policy issues are often very complex and the attempt to narrow them down to a single issue potentially limits the influence of citizens to control policy.

Well, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today.

Thank you.

Bree Burkitt is the host of Morning Edition and a reporter for KNAU. Contact her at