Arizona’s bumbling Secretary of State, Michelle Reagan, appears headed for defeat in the GOP primary as a result of her demonstrated incompetence and repeated failures in performing the essential functions of her job.
Unfortunately her Republican opponent, millionaire businessman Steve Gaynor, fancies himself the next Kris Kobach, the GOP voter suppression specialist from Kansas.
At a recent debate ahead of Arizona’s Aug. 28 Republican primary for secretary of state, businessman Steve Gaynor advocated for banning the printing of ballots and other election materials in Spanish, arguing that they should only be in English. Furthermore, Gaynor called for repealing the 1975 amendment to the federal Voting Rights Act that, thanks to a history of discrimination by many states—including Arizona itself—requires jurisdictions with large populations of non-English speakers to provide election materials in voters’ native languages.
Given that record of discrimination in a state that’s one-quarter Latino or Native American, it’s astonishing that a candidate would openly advocate for a measure that could make voting considerably more difficult for so many. But with Republicans escalating their voter suppression efforts thanks to a Supreme Court that seems determined to eviscerate the Voting Rights Act, Gaynor’s proposal isn’t an empty threat.
Gaynor is challenging Secretary of State Michele Reagan in the GOP primary for the job of Arizona’s top election administrator. (The office is also first in line to succeed the governor in case of vacancies, since Arizona has no lieutenant governor.) Polling has been limited, but a late July survey from the GOP pollster Data Orbital found Gaynor with a huge 44-22 lead over Reagan, who has faced blistering criticism for incompetency during her lone term in office. A report from the state’s attorney general last year even concluded that Reagan had broken the law when she failed to send out voter information pamphlets during the 2016 elections.
Gaynor could very well become the Republican nominee, and in red-leaning Arizona, he could get elected to office.
Fortunately, voters have a terrific alternative in Democrat Katie Hobbs, a true supporter of voting rights. While Gaynor wants to make sure fewer people vote, Hobbs favors policies like automatic voter registration that will make it easier to vote. That’s what any elections official should aspire to do in a democracy.
Gaynor’s campaign has called Reagan the worst Secretary of State on modern Arizona history — true! — and has accused her of “allowing illegal immigrants vote in federal elections in Arizona.” Secretary of State denies accusations she is allowing illegal immigrants to vote in Arizona.
What this immigrant bashing racist is referring to is Arizona’s dual election system in which citizens could register to vote using the federal voter registration form, which does not require proof of citizenship but only an attestation of citizenship, to vote for federal offices, but could not vote in state and local races. (Arizona’s voter registration form requires proof of citizenship).
This dual system was adopted as a “fuck you” response to a U.S. Supreme Court decision that rejected Arizona’s proof of citizenship requirement in Prop. 200 (2004) for voter registration. Prop. 200 was drafted by GOP voter suppression specialist Kris Kobach for Arizona’s then chief racist, state Senator Russell Pearce.
Secretary Reagan recently settled a lawsuit over this dual election system, which Gaynor obviously takes issues with. Reagan, Fontes settle suit over Arizona’s voter registration process:
Arizona election officials agreed Monday [June 4] to settle a lawsuit that claimed the state’s two-track voter registration process was unduly burdensome and “irrationally” disenfranchised thousands of voters.
Arizona voters can register for federal elections with a federal registration form that does not require proof of citizenship, but state registration – which is needed to vote in state and local elections – requires “documentary proof of citizenship.”
A lawsuit last fall by the League of United Latin American Citizens said that requiring documentary proof of citizenship with a voter registration application was needlessly bureaucratic and disenfranchised would-be voters.
Under the proposed settlement, voters will still need to be citizens to vote in state elections, but will no longer have to provide proof of citizenship with their application. Their citizenship status will be checked automatically by the state against the Department of Motor Vehicles database.
The settlement, agreed to by Secretary of State Michele Reagan and Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes, streamlines the process for registering to vote in local and statewide elections.
Reagan maintained in the settlement agreement that the current registration process is legal. But Fontes said a change in the process was long past due.
“I am pleased that the Secretary of State’s Office came to the same conclusions about the voter suppression created by the bifurcated registration system,” said Fontes in a statement. “It did not serve the voters in this county or the state.”
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The two-track system was born out of Prop 200, a 2004 ballot initiative that requires that proof of citizenship when registering to vote.
The Supreme Court in 2015 said the state could not require proof for voters using the federal form, which requires applicants to check a box attesting to citizenship.
The LULAC lawsuit, brought by the Campaign Legal Center and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, estimated that the process may have disenfranchised roughly 26,000 voters in Maricopa County, and thousands more statewide.
“Secretary Reagan’s agreement to these commonsense changes is an affirmation that democracy works best when all citizens can vote without barriers,” said a statement from Danielle Lang, senior legal counsel at the Campaign legal Center.
The only other state that maintained this dual election system was Kansas, as a result of GOP voter suppression specialist Kris Kobach, who unbelievably is Secretary of State (and is the GOP nominee for governor).
Kobach recently had his ass handed to him in the federal court. Judge Rejects Kansas Law Requiring Voters to Show Proof of Citizenship:
A restrictive law on voting in Kansas championed by Kris W. Kobach, the secretary of state, was struck down on Monday [June 18] by a federal judge who said Mr. Kobach had failed during a trial to show evidence of widespread voter fraud.
The ruling was a blow to Mr. Kobach, a Republican who has emerged as a national figure on voting limits, a candidate for governor of Kansas and an ally of President Trump in part by claiming that large numbers of noncitizens have cast ballots in American elections. Experts on election law say that there is no evidence that voter fraud is a pervasive problem.
For Kansas voters, the decision means that in elections this fall, people will not be required to provide proof of their citizenship in order to register to vote, as required under a Kansas law passed in 2011.
Federal District Judge Julie A. Robinson of Kansas, who presided over the trial earlier this year in which Mr. Kobach represented himself, said in her 188-page ruling that while there was evidence of a “small number of noncitizen registrations in Kansas, it is largely explained by administrative error, confusion, or mistake.”
While Michelle Reagan has been a terrible Secretary of State, this Steve Gaynor apparently fancies himself the next Kris Kobach, defying the federal courts and U.S. Supreme Court which have rued against the discriminatory dual election system.
America doesn’t need Steve Gaynor who fancies himself the next Kris Kobach. Stop the insanity!
Cast your vote for Democrat Katie Hobbs.