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Arizona Senate rejects bill banning unsupervised drop-off ballot boxes

Republican Senators Paul Boyer and Michelle Ugenti-Rita voted Monday against a bill that would have placed restrictions on drop-off ballot boxes.

PHOENIX — Editor's Note: The above video is from an earlier broadcast.

Two Republican state senators have sided with Democrats to vote against legislation that would have prohibited the use of unsupervised reciprocals where election ballots can be dropped off. 

House Bill 2238 failed to get enough votes in the Arizona Senate on Monday after GOP Senators Paul Boyer and Michelle Ugenti-Rita broke ranks with their party to reject the bill in a 14-15 vote. Democrat Juan Mendez was absent and did not vote.

The legislation would have required all drop-off locations to either be monitored by election workers or through 24/7 video surveillance. HB 2238 still allowed for drop-off boxes to be located inside polling places or voting centers, only if election staff were present to monitor the boxes. 

Ugenti-Rita introduced an amendment to the bill that would have outright prohibited all drop-off boxes, regardless of supervision, but it failed to pass. 

Ugenti-Rita said drop boxes are rife with possibilities for “ballot harvesting,” a pejorative term for dropping off completed ballots for other people. The Legislature in 2016 made it a felony to return another person's mail ballots unless it is for a family member or if the person returning the ballot is a caregiver.

She pointed to recent documentary that alleged thousands of ballots were illegally cast in 2020 battleground states. Fact-checkers have shown the arguments made in “2000 Mules” are full of unsupported allegations that thousands of ballots were illegally deposited into drop boxes.

“If you think ballot boxes contribute to ballot harvesting and can be manipulated, you would ban them, not require that we tape them,” Ugenti-Rita said. “It’s too late at that point.”

HB 2238 had narrowly passed through the Arizona House without any support from Democrats. 

About 90% of Arizona voters cast early ballots, either through the mail, at early voting sites, or by using drop boxes put in place by county election officials. Those boxes are most important in the week before an election, when there is doubt a mail-in ballot will reach the local election department in time.

Credit: Arizona Senate

On Monday, the Arizona Senate successfully passed House Bill 2617, which obligates all county recorders to cancel the voter registration of people determined to be unqualified electors.

County recorders currently have to discontinue registration upon receiving notification of a person's death. But HB 2617 expands on the state law by canceling voter registration for non-U.S. citizens or individuals who have a driver's license issued in another state. 

HB 2617 passed by a vote of 16-13 with no Democrats voting in favor of the legislation.

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