Disenfranchising Voters is not “Election Reform”

Arizonans have an election system that is safe, secure, and convenient. Through the hard work of election officials and leaders from both parties, our voting system serves as a national model.  Despite this success, 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.

And as private-sector business leaders who lead the Public Policy Committee of an organization of CEOs at the helm of hundreds of thousands of employees in Arizona, it is incumbent upon us to speak out against proposals that could interfere with any Arizonan’s right to vote.

In this legislative session, dozens of proposed bills would adversely affect the way that Arizonans vote and how those votes are counted. These proposed measures range from requiring a purge of voters from the Permanent Early Voting List, to introducing stringent new identification requirements for those voting by mail, to shortening the early vote period available for all voters. Some measures go even further and would do away with the Permanent Early Voting List in its entirety or would require all early ballots to be returned by a voter in person. Most egregiously, one measure would even permit legislators to overturn the will of the voters during a presidential election.

These proposals are a concerted effort from those in Arizona -and across the nation- who wish to sow additional doubts about our elections in the minds of voters, and feed into the paranoia that has plagued our political discourse over the past several months. Disturbingly, each of these proposals have one thing in common: making it more difficult for Arizonans to vote.

Despite claims made by the proponents of these misguided measures, Arizonans already have confidence in the integrity of our elections and, by and large, they find it easy to vote. This confidence in our election process has been validated by the ever-increasing numbers of registered voters in Arizona utilizing vote-by-mail (and other innovations). The creation and implementation of our election improvements have historically received significant bi-partisan support and represent our shared commitment to protecting the right to vote for all Arizonans.

We live in a very politically divided time, which underscores why we must protect the institutions that have been successful and have instilled voter confidence.  Win or lose an election in Arizona, we know that the system is accurate, fair and dependable.   We can, and should, regularly strive to make improvements to the way that we conduct this most vital component of democracy. However, these efforts in play at the legislature today will hinder, not enhance, the precious right to vote.

These measures seek to disenfranchise voters. They are “solutions” in search of a problem. They are attempts at voter suppression cloaked as reform – plain and simple.

The onslaught of voter suppression measures that have been introduced or entertained this session has been alarming. Attempts to disenfranchise Arizona voters is not “election reform” and cannot be tolerated. Further, pandering to those who willfully choose to perpetuate misleading or inaccurate information cannot continue. True leaders will play an important role in sharing the truth:  our election system in Arizona works.

Sharon Harper is President & CEO of Plaza Companies, past Board Chair of Greater Phoenix Leadership (GPL) and current Co-Chair of the GPL Public Policy Committee. Adam Goodman is CEO of Goodman’s Interior Structures and Co-Chair of the GPL Public Policy Committee.