Honorable Karen Fann
President, Arizona Senate Senator
kfann@azleg.gov

Honorable Russell “Rusty” Bowers
Speaker, Arizona House of Representatives Representative
rbowers@azleg.gov

Arizona State Legislature
1700 West Washington Street
Phoenix, Arizona 85007

Re: SB 1485, Early voting list; eligibility
SB 1713, Early ballots; identification; mailing,
and SB 1003, Early voting; signature required; notice

Dear Senator Fann and Representative Bowers:

On behalf of the nearly 17,000 members of the San Carlos Apache Tribe (“Tribe”), I oppose SB1485, SB1713 and SB1003. These bills and countless others have been put forward on the basis of a lie to Arizona that the last election was a fraud. Truth matters, but apparently not for the sponsors of these bills. No evidence of fraud or any irregularity was uncovered by over 60 judges all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, nor the former U.S. Attorney General, the Arizona Secretary of State, and countless other election officials, irregardless of political party affiliation. In fact, not one sponsor has been able to provide a shred of evidence, because none exists. Instead, these bills simply hide behind the lie of fraud in a naked effort to disenfranchise underrepresented populations, notably Native Americans.

SB1485; Early voting list; eligibility

SB1485 directs County governments to remove voters from the “Permanent Early Voter List” (proposed to be renamed the “Active Early Voter List”) for failing to vote by mail. If a voter does not vote by mail in all consecutive elections for two election cycles, then they will receive a notice from the County where they are registered to vote that they will be removed from the early voting list if they do not respond within ninety (90) days. Counties do not have an obligation to contact the voter before removing them from the list and Counties do not have an obligation to conduct outreach to try and preserve the voter’s status on the list. Voters who choose to receive their ballot by mail and return it in person (at the polls or via drop box) will not preserve their eligibility by doing so. That election will count against them because it must be returned via mail to count towards preserving your eligibility on this list.

Although Native Americans utilize the Permanent Early Voting at lower rates, it is reasonable to assume that their utilization is non-existent. Tribal communities tend to turnout in lower numbers during non-Presidential election years, and missing those elections will count against those voters and put them at risk of staying on the list. Native American voters also have higher rates of not being affiliated with a party, which leads to decreased turnout in primaries and will count against voters staying on the list. We also know that access to mail in Tribal communities is unreliable or significantly delayed, resulting in voters utilizing drop boxes or returning ballots at the polls because of the unreliable mail service. For Tribes that have worked with Counties to implement more drop boxes on Tribal lands, this SB1485 undermines those efforts. Voters that are removed from the list will have to sign up again to be reinstated, make one time ballot requests, or vote in person.

The effect of SB1485 is to disenfranchise voters on the Permanent Early Voting List who do not consistently vote in every election in their resident Counties. There is nothing to fix with the early voting process. Instead, this is purely a partisan effort to modify voting lists and restore barriers to voting.

SB 1713, Early ballots; identification; mailing

SB1713 directs County Recorders to send by nonforwardable mail a voter registration card to each registered voter at least once every 2 years. To be valid and counted, a ballot must be completed with required voter information and signature. An early voter must submit the ballot along with the affidavit provided by the county recorder and either the number from a driver license, nonoperating identification license, tribal enrollment card or other form of tribal identification or a copy of a US federal, State or local government issued identification. The voter’s registration number and an item that contains the name and address of the voter that reasonably appears to be the same as the voter’s voter registration address. SB1713 is essentially a voter identification requirement for voting by mail.

SB1713 will impact all Tribal voters by requiring additional information when voting. Voters that do not have a Tribal or Arizona identification card or document will be even more burdened because they will have to know their voter registration number and provide another form of identification that has the voter’s registration address and the name of the voter. This is overly burdensome because it requires that such identification be mailed in, which either requires that a person surrender that form of identification permanently to the County (which they may not be willing to do) or that they photocopy the identification, which Native Americans are less likely to be able to do due to lack of transportation, access to the computers or copy machines, or the internet and other physical or financial barriers.

The effect of SB1713 is to disenfranchise voters by excluding vunerable populations who do not possess identification or who cannot provide proof of identification. There is nothing to fix with the current voter identification process, which is already cumbersome. Instead, this is purely a partisan effort to modify voter identification requirements and restore barriers to voting.

SB 1003, Early voting; signature required; notice

SB1003 requires County recorders or other officers to make a reasonable effort to contact the elector, advising them of the missing signature and that they may add their signature no later than 7PM on Election Day. If the missing signature is not received by 7PM on Election Day the ballot will not be counted.

SB1003 directly impacts Native Americans who do not sign their ballot by giving them a shorter window to cure the missing signature. For voters whose signatures do not match the ballot are given 5 business days after election day to cure the signature mismatch, whereas under this bill voters without a signature will only have until 7PM on election day.

SB1003 is particularly harmful to Native Americans living on remote reservations who historically face physical, geographical, and financial challenges that voters living in metropolitan or other urban areas do not experience. These challenges prohibit such voters from quickly receiving and responding to any notice sent via mail, phone, or email.

The effect of SB1003 is to disenfranchise voters by excluding vulnerable populations who do not or are unable to timely verify their signatures on mail ballots. There is nothing to fix with the current ballot certification process. Instead, this is purely a partisan effort to modify ballot certification requirements and restore barriers to voting.

Conclusion

Voting accessibility ensures the right to vote. The Arizona legislature has worked hard for nearly a decade to create one of the most reliable and accessible election systems in the country. Our great State has taken forward thinking steps to encourage all voters to get involved in our democracy as early as possible, and Arizona works hard to protect access to the ballot. Therefore, as the age-old adage goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

As you are well aware, nearly 200 bills were introduced to alter voting rights in Arizona’s 2021-Fifty-Fifth Legislature – First Regular Session. As you can see, there is a direct partisan effort to manipulate the election system through any means possible. Intentional efforts to interfere with, and prevent, eligible citizens from exercising their fundamental American right to vote, strike at the very heart of our democracy.

The Arizona Legislature, Governor Doug Ducey, and Secretary of State Katie Hobbs need to ensure the integrity of the election process and vigilantly protect against any attempts at voter suppression under existing legislation.

New legislation necessarily means the Arizona Legislature will lose focus on critical issues with long term effects like protecting the environment (e.g., land, air, and water) for future generations, sustainable development, protecting vulnerable populations, making healthcare accessible during the pandemic, setting state-wide standards for reopening businesses affected by coronavirus, providing financial relief programs for small businesses, improving infrastructure in rural areas, and a host of other essential legislation needed to aid the economy and families in their recovery from the pandemic.

Arizonans need their Legislators to concentrate on current bipartisan issues of interest to the citizenry and to put aside the partisan distractions associated with voting. We are at a critical point in determining the future of our legacies and we should leave our world a better place than we found out during our lifetimes.

For the foregoing reasons, I request that you oppose SB1485, SB1713, and SB1003. As we say in our Apache language, Ahi’yi’é (thank you) in advance for considering my request.

Sincerely,
SAN CARLOS APACHE TRIBE

Terry Rambler
Chairman

Download the PDF version of the letter here: