AZ bill would restrict who can deliver early ballots - WNEM TV 5

AZ bill would restrict who can deliver early ballots

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It's only February, but there's already some election issue controversy brewing at the state Capitol.

Arizona lawmakers are considering a bill that would restrict who can deliver early ballots.

Last year, volunteers went door-to-door across the Valley trying to get out the vote.

One of the groups leading the charge was Promise Arizona, a nonprofit organization devoted to helping members of the Hispanic community get involved in the election process.

It seemed to work, as the group registered more than 34,000 new voters in Maricopa County, then helped collect thousands of early ballots and deliver them to local polling places.

Promise Arizona President Petra Falcon told CBS5 News that their hard work could be washed out if state lawmakers pass SB1003, a bill that would prevent groups like Promise Arizona from collecting early ballots.

"The critique had always been that Latino voters didn't vote," said Falcon. "It's ironic now that Latino voters are voting. Yes, Latino voters will be impacted."

SB1003 would prohibit any paid worker or volunteer from any group from turning in someone's early ballot.

If they did, they'd be charged with a Class 5 felony.

The bill does permit a voter to designate a family member or roommate to turn in an early ballot for them.

Bill sponsor Michele Reagan, R-Scottsdale, said that SB1003 has nothing to do with voter suppression or targeting a certain group of voters.

She said that her goal is to reduce potential fraud and help things run smoother on election day.

"I'm not interested in stopping people from voting or making it harder in any way shape or form," said Reagan. "I really think it takes away from the sanctity of voting. Voting is very personal and the thought of these ballots being out there, collected by we don't know who and carted off to polls, that's not the spirit of voting for most people."

Reagan said she is open to hearing all sides of this debate, but claims SB1003 is no different than a law they already have in California and several other states.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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