House repeals 2013 election law that angered many

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX (AP) -- The Arizona House voted Thursday to repeal a sweeping 2013 Arizona election law that included trimming the state's permanent early voting list and a host of other provisions that incensed voter-rights advocates.

Majority Republicans who pushed House Bill 2305 through last June voted to repeal the law on a 33-26 party-line vote Thursday. An identical bill is making its way through the Senate and could get a vote next week, sending it to GOP Gov. Jan Brewer.

The passage of the election law in the final hours of the 2013 session angered Democrats, some conservative Republicans and third-party candidates. They came together to collect more than 146,000 signatures to place the law on hold and put it on the November ballot.

Republicans pushing the repeal say they are following the will of the voters and expressed worry that the many provisions in the bill could not be changed without a supermajority vote of the Legislature if it is repealed by voters and not the Legislature.

Repealing the law will cancel the voter referendum.

Democrats argued that the GOP is thwarting the will of the voters and worry Republicans will simply re-enact its provisions piecemeal. Republicans in the House turned back a Democratic amendment Thursday that would have revived the voter referendum if any of the provisions were adopted by the current Legislature. Another Democratic amendment that would delay the repeal until after the election also designed to prevent re-enactment was also rejected by the GOP lawmakers.

"This is exactly what they've asked for, that 2305 not go into effect. This is exactly what I am giving them," said Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, R-Gilbert, the bill's sponsor. He repeated again that he is not pushing a piecemeal effort to revive provisions of the law, although he said he couldn't guarantee others won't.

"A lot of us are concerned, I think we all know this, that once this actually passes there may be an effort down here to put some piecemeal bills together to try to construct a kind of some Frankensteinian version of HB 2305 and allow it to rumble through the village called the state of Arizona," said Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix.

Farnsworth pushed back.

"You can challenge me on the trust all you want. But I can guarantee every one of you know that when I tell you what I'm going to do, that's what I'm going to do," he said.

Many Republicans, including House Speaker Andy Tobin, have said that there are some provisions of the bill being repealed they think are badly needed, including a provision that incensed Democrats making it illegal to pick up vote-by-mail ballots and the provision cutting voters from the vote-by-mail list.

Tobin said he would not block any of those pieces from debate, but he hopes the two parties could work together to fix some of the problems that overwhelmed election officials with provisional ballots after the 2012 elections.

"I've made no commitments not to move anything," Tobin said. "There's clearly places to go where we can make improvements here."

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