This past week in Kentucky, HB 574 was signed into law. Despite the Kentucky legislature consisting of Republican supermajorities in both the House and Senate, the account for Democratic Governors tweeted, “While Republicans like @BrianKempGA are implementing Jim Crow 2.0, yet another Democratic governor just expanded voting rights…”
And the corporate media picked up this talking point with headlines such as “Kentucky Gov. Beshear signs into law bipartisan elections bill expanding voting access” from CNN, “Why Kentucky Just Became the Only Red State to Expand Voting Rights” from the New York Times, and “Democratic Governor in deep-red Kentucky signs bill to expand voting, bucking national trend” from the Washington Post.
Meanwhile, here in Arizona the headlines read “Arizona Republican lawmakers join GOP efforts to target voting, with nearly two dozen restrictive voting measures” under a bold “Voting Rights Under Attack” from CNN, “The next Georgia: Texas and Arizona emerge as voting rights battlegrounds” from the Guardian, and “23 voter suppression bills in Arizona legislature” from KOLD.
Let’s take a look at what the left and liberal media consider “Jim Crow 2.0” in Arizona compared to what they applaud as “expanding voting access” in Kentucky.
In Arizona, early voting begins 27 days before an election.
Under the Kentucky bill, early voting is limited to a mere 3 days – Thursday, Friday, and Saturday during normal business hours (Section 11).
In 2016, HB2023, which prohibited ballot harvesting, was signed into Arizona law. The Democrat party sued the state over it, claiming it has a disparate impact on minority voters. The case is currently in the Supreme Court.
Under the Kentucky bill, ballot harvesting is prohibited (Section 6).
Vote By Mail/SB1485
In Arizona, no excuse is required to vote by mail and voters can register to automatically receive a ballot for every single election, without having to reapply. SB1485 would remove a voter from this list only after the voter failed to vote in four consecutive elections and fails to respond to a notice. The voter would still be registered, they would just no longer receive a ballot in the mail automatically.
Under the Kentucky bill, an excuse is required to vote absentee and voters must apply within a short window of no earlier than 45 days before an election and no later than 14 days before an election (Section 11).
In Arizona, SB1003 clarifies that if a ballot does not have a signature, the county must attempt to contact the voter and if a signature is not obtained by 7PM on election day, it is rejected.
Under the Kentucky bill, an absentee ballot must immediately be rejected if it has no signature (Section 14).
In Arizona, SB1106 would require a county recorder to cancel a voter’s registration upon confirmation the voter has registered in another county or state.
Under the Kentucky bill, a voter’s registration must immediately be canceled upon notification the voter has registered in another county or state (Section 5).
In Arizona, voters on the early voter list automatically receive a ballot by mail for every election and do not have to reapply every time. SB1713 requires voters to write their date of birth and either their Arizona driver’s license or voter registration number on their ballot affidavit.
Under the Kentucky bill, a photo ID is required for voting in person and must be provided in the application for an absentee ballot – an application that must be made before every election (Section 41).
Catching the theme? All of these provisions leave Kentucky with a more restrictive election system than Arizona. If proposals in the Arizona Legislature are “Jim Crow 2.0” in the eyes of the democrats and media, then Kentucky would surely be “Jim Crow on steroids.”
If we have learned anything from Kentucky’s passage of HB574, it is that according to the leftist media, election integrity reforms are racist and disenfranchisement when Republicans pass them, but an “expansion of voter access” when a Democrat Governor signs on.
In reality, all of the bills Arizona is considering leave intact the many accessible options available to voters with modest reforms to ensure the integrity of each. They ensure it is simple to register, easy to vote, and hard to cheat – priorities Kentucky’s new law also ensure.
Democrats have become far too comfortable with controlling you. For many of them, COVID-19 has been a power grab, seizing the opportunity to enact emergency orders and implement other restrictions on your freedom.
They’ve crushed restaurants and other businesses with severe limits and unnecessary closures. They’ve instituted illogical curfews (because apparently the virus only comes out at night). And most recently, Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego closed parking lots and grills at Phoenix parks during Easter weekend. Maybe Mayor Gallego should’ve read the guidance from the CDC that says being outdoors is safer than being indoors if you plan to celebrate with others. But no. Despite Governor Ducey’s call for all Arizona parks to remain open during Easter weekend, she decided it was better to play a game of politics.
The draconian measures need to go. But too many government officials around our state are still fighting back against reopening. And nowhere is that more obvious than with the left’s beloved mask mandates, which have been nothing but divisive without any data to back them up.
Thankfully, Governor Ducey took a step in the right direction at the end of March by requiring cities, towns, and counties throughout Arizona to lift such mandates. But more work needs to be done. Mayor Gallego and others from the left love their masks. In fact, City of Phoenix officials recently announced that they are defying Governor Ducey and leaving their mask mandate in place.
But right now, a bill sits on the governor’s desk that can end this once and for all. HB2770, sponsored by Rep. Joseph Chaplik (R-LD23) and dubbed the “mask freedom bill,” passed the Arizona State Senate last week. It simply asserts that a business is not required to enforce a state, city, town, county, or other jurisdiction’s mask mandate on the business’s premises.
This is a commonsense solution. It allows people to exercise their freedom while removing the burden from businesses to play mask police. So, naturally, the Democrats voted against it. Not a single one voted for the bill throughout the entire process. Apparently, the left would rather cling to their power than follow the science. Just ask State Senator Martin Quezada (D-LD29), who voted against the bill despite his excessive need to cross-contaminate his own mask by touching it 22 times in three minutes.
It’s time to return to normalcy and put an end to this foolishness. Businesses need to be protected, and citizens should be treated like responsible adults who can decide what’s best for them. That’s what it means to live in a free country.
Now, it all comes down to the pen of Governor Ducey. He showed a desire to do what’s right a few weeks ago by temporarily lifting mask mandates throughout Arizona. And he can make it permanent by signing the mask freedom bill. The process to reopen has been well underway. Governor Ducey should follow the science and finish the job.
The left has been stoking public outcry over election integrity reforms around the country, prompting Joe Biden to refer to Georgia’s recent election bill “Jim Crow on steroids.” The misguided outrage has been focused on Arizona too, and democrats have been referring to many of the bills here as a reaction to what they call the “Big Lie” referring to the 2020 election. In reality, the only “Big Lie” is the narrative from the media and left that these measures are voter suppression bills.
One bill they are targeting is SB 1485, which was introduced by Senator Michelle Ugenti-Rita and has passed the Senate on party lines, the House Government & Elections Committee, and is waiting for a Floor vote in the House. Calling this a reaction to 2020 is easily disproven evidenced by the fact that Senator Ugenti-Rita introduced the same exact bill in 2019.
The bill simply requires county recorders to send a notice to a voter on the permanent early voter list who has not cast their mail-in ballot in four consecutive elections. If the voter fails to respond to the notice within 30 days, the voter would be removed from the early voter list.
It is important to note that unlike many other states, Arizonans can vote early in person for 27 days and should someone be removed from the early voter list, they can immediately re-register or simply choose to vote in person. No one is being disenfranchised.
But since the media and left have taken such a vocal stance against these bills, let’s compare SB 1485 to the rest of the country. Unlike Arizona, most states do not allow automatic early voting by mail and even those that do are far more restrictive than what SB 1485 proposes.
In Connecticut for example, the only people who can automatically vote by mail are those who are permanently physically disabled. And even then, it should not be called “permanent” because a voter is removed for failing to respond to an annual notice within 30 days. (§ 9-140e). Compare that with SB 1485, where a notice is sent only after failing to vote in four consecutive elections. Which is more reasonable?
In California, where any registered voter may sign up to automatically receive a ballot by mail similar to Arizona’s permanent early voter list, a voter is automatically removed after failing to vote in four consecutive elections (§ 3206). So, in reality, SB1485 doesn’t even go as far as California, a state in which democrats have held a trifecta since 2011.
And what about in D.C, where they allow voters to “permanently” request an absentee ballot but remove any voter who misses two consecutive elections (DCMR 3, § 720.4)? Where is the public outcry over D.C’s voter “suppression”?
The truth is that these reforms do not even go as far as laws that currently exist around the country, including in democrat strongholds. In Arizona, it is far easier to automatically vote by mail than it is in most states, but the lies being peddled by the media and woke left are duping corporations like Delta, Coca-Cola, and the MLB in Georgia, and now many here in Arizona too.
Somehow, they didn’t see it coming. Last week, Gilbert Public Schools, one of the largest school districts in Arizona, notified 152 certified staff members that they would be without jobs for the 2021-2022 school year. And the announcement sent shockwaves throughout Arizona’s public school districts.
Parents certainly tried to warn them. They pleaded with their school districts to find safe ways to offer in-person learning. And they threatened to leave for charter schools, private schools, or homeschool if they didn’t.
But the teachers’ unions didn’t want to listen. Instead they threatened to strike if schools reopened this past fall. And many staged “sick outs” in a sorry attempt to force students to remain online. All of this despite the fact that multiple schools throughout our state had returned to in-person learning safely.
Now, Gilbert Public Schools (with others likely to follow) is learning a lesson the hard way. Parents don’t like it when schools turn their backs on them—and their children. So, they voted with their feet. And enrollment in public schools plummeted.
Gilbert saw approximately 3,900 fewer students than projected. Peoria Unified School District reported a drop in enrollment of over 2,000 students compared to last year. And a recent report from the Arizona Department of Education indicated that enrollment in public schools across the state is down around 6% while charter schools have seen an increase of 9%.
Perhaps the teachers’ unions should take an economics class. Fewer students mean fewer dollars. And few dollars mean fewer teachers.
Of course, the Democrats can’t accept this simple principle. Instead of focusing on how to serve students and parents better to boost enrollment, you’ll never guess their proposed solution. Ok. You probably did. They want to dump more money into public schools. That’s right. State representatives like Kelli Butler (D-LD28) actually think rainy day funds will solve the problem until students magically return to public schools.
But what the Democrats fail to realize is that COVID-19 enhanced the importance of school choice while providing an opportunity to revolutionize education. And parents haven’t been content to sit around and allow themselves to be held hostage by the public schools. Some went so far as to create their own solutions, including new ideas like microschools and pandemic pods.
That’s why right now is the perfect time to have a real discussion about school funding. Instead of pumping money into schools and school districts that protect their own interests first, Arizona should look to fund students instead of systems. And the state could start by expanding Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESA) program. This would allow parents to use their tax dollars for alternative learning solutions, giving families access to the funds needed to tailor an education that best fits their children. And it would do so at a fraction of the cost.
It’s time for Arizona to take the power away from the teachers’ unions and put it in the hands of parents and students. They deserve the best education possible education and the funding to make it happen.
Let’s give our students a solution that’s centered on them. Because if this past year has taught us anything, it’s that they are really the ones who are paying the price.