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Arizona bill abolishing early voting passes committee

In a 4-3 vote along party lines, the Senate Government Committee passed a bill requiring Arizonans to vote in-person on Election Day.

PHOENIX — An Arizona Senate committee voted Monday to advance a bill that abolishes early voting for most citizens and requires all ballots to be counted by hand.

In a 4-3 vote, the Government Committee's Republican members approved House Bill 2289, which could potentially overhaul how a large population of Arizonans vote.  

The bill states all voting must "occur only on election day and all ballots be cast in person by a voter at the voter's election precinct polling place." 

Ballots must also be tabulated by hand within 24 hours of the polls closing, according to the bill's language.

More than 80% of voters in Arizona vote early either by mail or in-person. 

The bill would still allow for overseas residents, service members, and hospitalized voters to submit absentee ballots.  

The committee's Republican senators argued security should come before convenience when it comes to voting.

"I love this bill," said Republican Sen. Wendy Rogers, who was censured by her colleagues earlier this month. 

“Just because it’s convenient to vote by mail doesn’t mean that is our right," Rogers added. “Our right is to vote.”

Democrats argued the bill creates barriers to voting and disenfranchises the state's rural residents. 

HB 2289 originally dealt with poll watchers and election challengers before a strike-everything amendment was made earlier this month, which essentially rewrote the bill focus on changing how many Arizonans submit their ballots.

The bill would still need to get through a vote on the full Senate floor and Gov. Doug Ducey's signature before it passes. 

Despite clearing a Senate committee, the measure is considered highly unlikely to be signed into law. 

Several Republican senators have joined Democrats to vote down election measures they say go too far. In the House, Republican Speaker Rusty Bowers ensured the defeat of an identical bill earlier this year by assigning it to every House committee, an extraordinary step to erect barriers to its passage.

RELATED: Arizona Senate votes down bill to audit every election

RELATED: Arizona Republicans pass bills focused on voting at Senate hearing

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