Fighting Fraud and Enhancing Elections

 

Anyone who has experienced May in Arizonaknows that it is a month of increasing temperatures.  But as I’ve traveled the state, I’ve noticed nothing gets people’s blood to boil as quickly as reports of voter fraud.

While we all understand any instance of voter fraud is a problem, it’s reassuring to know things are rarely as bad they are often portrayed to be.  But the Secretary of State’s office firmly believes that even one occurrence of illegal voting is too many. Arizona has an excellent system of voter registration and ballot security in place and this year we took steps to further strengthen our system of elections.

This legislative session, we worked to pass measures that will improve efficiency, ballot integrity and security.  These priorities reflect our commitment to makeArizona’s elections the best in the world.  With enhancements to the state’s EZ voter registration platform, strengthened requirements for ballot access and the handling of voted ballots, we think we took steps to achieve that goal.

But even with the positive steps we’ve taken, we cannot allow ourselves to be lured into a false sense of security.  That’s why we’ve joined a multi-state cross referencing system where we can compare our voter lists to that of other states who also participate in the program.  A few months back, you may have heard that our effort netted a couple of folks fromScottsdalewho voted in Nevada andArizonaduring the 2008 election.  Combined with our prosecution, we’ve sent the message that we will find those who are trying to illegally influence our elections and hold them accountable.

Even as our vigorous pursuit of voter fraud will continue in earnest, we feel that the best place to prevent voter fraud is to catch it before it occurs.  An essential component of that effort is requiring that voter registration applicants provide proof of citizenship.  But what seems like common sense to most of us, others feel is a burdensome prerequisite. 

Last October, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals inSan Francisco struck down our requirement that residents provide proof when they register to vote.  In 2004, Proposition 200 was passed by voters to help make sure that only eligible people participate in our elections, but the Court ruled that a federal voter-registration law supersedes Arizona’s requirement.

That decision by the 9th Circuit was an outrage, and I thought was a slap in the face to Arizonans who are concerned about the integrity of our elections.  There isn’t a corner of this state where people are not concerned with voter fraud and opposition to the simple act of providing proof that you are legally eligible to participate in our elections is incomprehensible.

The good news is that the 9th Circuit will reconsider their decision before the entire membership of the court in June.  Without a doubt, the outcome of that rehearing will be appealed by those who find themselves on the losing side of the decision.  We all anticipate that this case will eventually be heard by the US Supreme Court, and we’ll be there fighting all the way for our right to fair and fraud-free elections.

At the same time we are making it more difficult to get away with voter fraud, we are improving our online EZ Voter registration system which works in conjunction with Motor Vehicle. Arizona is home to 3.2 million voters and since January of this year, 84% of registrants have done so using the state’s convenient online application.  In addition, over the coming months, we will be taking advantage of innovative technologies by making many election services available on mobile devices.

We have high expectations at the Secretary of State’s office.  While we’ve taken some great strides this year, we’re just getting started.

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