Senator Fires Back At Business Leaders Who Allege Legislature Is Pushing Voter Suppression Efforts

Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita has not taken kindly to being accused of advocating legislation aimed at voter suppression, and on Wednesday she took to Twitter to fire back once again at a statement signed by 40 corporate CEOs, presidents, and owners which made that suggestion.

Ugenti-Rita (R-LD23) tweeted that the signatories of the April 2 statement released by Greater Phoenix Leadership (GPL) were “feeding mass hysteria” by misrepresenting one of her bills -SB1485- as an act of legislative voter suppression.

“Rather than hide behind a form letter generated by #GPL, these corporate leaders should participate in a public debate & tell all Arizonans who support secure, transparent & well run elections that corporate America thinks they’re nothing but ignorant, vote suppressing racists,” the senator tweeted Wednesday night.

It followed several other tweets from Ugenti-Rita during the day related to the Greater Phoenix Leadership statement which contends three senate bills -SB1485, SB1593, and SB1713- have one thing in common: making it more difficult for Arizonans to vote.

“Attempts to disenfranchise Arizona voters is not ‘election reform’ and cannot be tolerated,” the statement reads. But Ugenti-Rita is uninterested in their comment.

“Their opinion, frankly, is inconsequential to me and has no credibility,” she tweeted, repeating comments she made April 5. “I think they need to stay in their lane.”

Ugenti-Rita also tweeted that she doesn’t tell business leaders “how to run their companies or how to manage their sports monopolies,” and therefore “I don’t think they should tell me how to … legislate.” Another tweet included her description of  SB1485 as “mild in nature and modest in its scope” as election reform legislation.

SB1485 establishes a process requiring Arizona’s 15 county recorders to drop voters from the Permanent Early Voting List (PEVL) who do not vote via their early ballot at least once during two consecutive primary and general election cycles. Roughly 200,000 voters would meet that criteria this year, according Ugenti-Rita, who has made SB1485 a priority this session.

“There’s a cost associated with sending out ballots to people who aren’t voting by mail,” the senator said during a February committee meeting. “There’s also an integrity component.”

The bill is still alive, although it has seen no legislative action since April 1. Also still under consideration is SB1713, co-sponsored by Ugenti-Rita, which would mandate that voters write their date of birth on the affidavit they sign when voting by mail, as well as their voter registration number or driver’s license number.

SB1593, however, never made it out of the Senate but the business leaders’ statement appears geared to ensuring it is not resurrected this session.

Under the bill, Arizonans would have had only 22 days, instead of the current 27, to cast a ballot prior to Election Day. It also required mailed in ballots to be postmarked on or before the Thursday before election day, whether or not the ballot was received by 7 p.m. Election Day.

The business leaders’ statement calls Arizona’s voting system “a national model” but “we are now witnessing legislative efforts aimed at not only undoing this carefully crafted system, but actually attempting to suppress the votes of Arizonans. These efforts are misguided and must be defeated.”

Among those who signed the statement are Peter Fine, President & CEO of Banner Health; Michael Bidwell, Owner of the Arizona Cardinals; Scott Pompe, Regional President – West for The Arizona Republic/USA TODAY Network; Pam Kehaly, President & CEO for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona; and Bob Delgado, President & CEO of Hensley Beverage Company, whose board of directors is chaired by Cindy McCain.