It only changes one word, but if a legislative bill introduced last week by Rep. Steve Kaiser and several co-sponsors passes, it will significantly impact a key duty of Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs in connection to elections.
Kaiser (R-LD15) is seeking to amend Arizona Revised Statute 16-615 related to voter registration, including the cancellation of a deceased voter’s registration. As currently written, the statute requires the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) to transmit to the Secretary of State “a record of the death of every resident of the state reported to the department within the preceding month.”
ADHS must also annually send Hobbs a record of all deaths of residents listed on a statewide electronic death registration system.
But while the statute says Hobbs shall only use the ADHS records for canceling the names of deceased persons from the state’s voter registration database, the law as written does not actually require her to compare the voter registration database to the death records.
Instead, the statute simply reads the Secretary of State “may” compare the records to the database. Which Kaiser is hoping to transform with HB2054.
Kaiser’s bill replaces the word “may” in ARS §16-615 with “shall” so that Hobbs must compare the ADHS records of deaths with the statewide voter registration database. This would also ensure another part of the statute is followed which requires each deceased person to “promptly be cancelled” from the voter registration database.
Nothing in the one-word amendment would change the fact that when the Secretary of State removes a deceased person from the statewide database the appropriate county recorder must be notified so the voter can be cancelled from the county registration records.
The House Committee for Government & Elections will meet Wednesday, Jan. 20 at 9 a.m. to consider Kaiser’s bill. The committee is chaired by Rep. John Kavanagh (R-LD23). HB2054 is co-sponsored by Representatives Joseph Chaplik (R-LD23), Regina Cobb (R-LD5), and Justin Wilmeth (R-LD15). It is co-sponsored by Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita.