Jonathan J. Cooper
PHOENIX — The Arizona House on Wednesday voted down a bill that would have required voters to include identification with their mail-in ballots, a defeat for Republicans looking to impose more restrictive voting procedures.
The bill was one of the most contentious of the dozens of voting rights bills that Arizona Republicans introduced following former President Donald Trump's narrow loss in the longtime GOP stronghold. Influential business leaders, including the owner of the Arizona Cardinals, publicly urged lawmakers to reject it.
Voting by mail is overwhelmingly popular in Arizona, where nearly 90 percent of 2020 voters used a ballot that arrived in the mail.
The bill, SB1713, would have required voters to include their birthday and an ID number with their ballots. Acceptable ID numbers included a driver's license, voter registration, tribal ID or the last four digits of a Social Security number.
Democrats said the bill would have led to the rejection of votes from people who don't know the new rules or don't have easy access to the required ID numbers.
“We need a healthier democracy, and we need to make sure that everyone’s voice is heard,” said Rep. Raquel Terán, a Democrat from west Phoenix who is also chairwoman of the Arizona Democratic Party.
Many older people in the Navajo Nation weren't born in hospitals and don't know or have documentation of their birthdays, said Rep. Jasmine Blackwater-Nygren, Navajo.
Democrats also said it would be costly for election officials to administer and could put voters at risk of identity theft by putting their name, address, ID number and signature together on the same form.
(Related: Controversial Arizona voting bill explained)
Republicans supporting the bill say it would restore confidence in elections. Election experts say the 2020 election was one of the most secure on record, but Trump and some of his supporters have aggressively pushed an unfounded narrative of fraud.
Two Republicans, Reps. Michelle Udall of Mesa and Joel John of Buckeye, joined all 29 Democrats in defeating the measure. The GOP has slim majorities in the House and Senate, and the defection of any single Republican is enough to sink the bill if Democrats are united in opposition.
The vote on the long-stalled legislation amounts to a last-ditch effort to pass it. The measure could be revived in the future, but the prospect is increasingly unlikely as lawmakers rush to adjourn for the year.