In August 2014, Arizona voters caught their first glimpse of a ballot harvester in action when cameras captured a member of the progressive group, Citizens for a Better Arizona, stuffing hundreds of envelopes into a ballot box in Maricopa County. Arizona has been the only state that allows harvesting of ballots. That could change if Representative Michelle Ugenti-Rita (R-23) has her way.
Ugenti-Rita has introduced HB2023 which prescribes a class 6 felony for collecting a voted or unvoted early ballot from another person. The bill will allow a family member, household member, or caregiver of a voter, as well as election officials and United States postal workers to continue to be allowed to collect ballots.
According to Ugenti-Rita, this legislation is an effort to maintain the ability of Arizonan’s to participate in the electoral process via the mail without it being manipulated.
Rep. Ugenti-Rita said, “During my tenure at the legislature I have been a strong advocate of a fair and impartial electoral process. I believe ballot harvesting flies in the face of that. Prohibiting the collection of ballots is important to maintaining the integrity of the electoral process. Voting is the most direct method to impact government and the process should be void of fraud to ensure voters can have confidence in the system.”
Secretary of State Michele Reagan stated, “We must do all we can to improve election integrity and reduce the opportunity for political gamesmanship from any political party,” said Secretary Reagan. “I’ve always said we want to make it easy to vote and hard to cheat. This commonsense legislation will ensure voted ballots are secure with the USPS and not in the hands of activist groups walking door-to-door in neighborhoods collecting hundreds of ballots without any oversight.”
Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio stated, “This bill is about protecting voter rights. The bill protects our precious rights at the ballot box by preventing extreme influence, coercion and ballot fraud from people collecting ballots for special interest groups.”
Rep. Ugenti-Rita continued, “Due to the nature of this issue, it will be the only bill I hear during the first meeting of the Elections Committee. HB2023 is the product of a deliberative stakeholder process that involved participants from multiple levels of government eager to develop a solution to this problem and I thank them for their contributions and support.”
LaFaro submitted a Public Information Request to Maricopa County Elections on 08/26 requesting the 24/7 security surveillance video tape for 08/25 from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. for the camera in the MCTEC foyer watching the ballot box – camera 9.