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Vote Could Limit Availability Of Early Ballots

The House Judiciary Committee voted this week to limit who can pick up early ballots. Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer explains.

Under current law, someone who gets an early ballot can drop it in the mail, take it to the polls themselves on election day, or give it to anyone else to drop off. The legislation would make it a crime for volunteers or workers of certain organizations to take ballots on behalf of others.

Maricopa County Elections Director Karen Osborne said there have been problems with people posing as election workers or offering to take ballots only if someone has voted a certain way. But Barbara Klein, president of the League of Women Voters of Arizona objected to the restrictions. Klein said, "it puts a chilling effect on volunteer community groups such as our own and many of the Latino groups that have worked so hard on some of these issues in bringing more people's ballots in."

And Representative Martin Quezada said this is just another example of discrimination, which is why Arizona is subject to the federal Voting Rights Act. But Representative Eddie Farnsworth rejected that characterization of the legislation saying, "I get awfully tired of hearing about the discriminatory intent of these bills. I can tell you, I'm not a racist, I'm not biased except against bad policy. There's nothing in here that deals with racism. There's nothing in here that deals with discrimination."

The bill now goes to the full House.