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Merrifield & Liles: Arizona general election holds integrity of future elections in balance

The state flag of Arizona. (File Photos/DigitalFreePress.com)

November vote features key Arizona seats up for grabs

By Kristen Merrifield & Laurie Liles | Point of View

This year’s election—in addition to being a contest over key seats up for grabs—is about elections themselves. As early voting gets underway in Arizona, voters will decide their rights to know about elections, their rights to participate in elections through the initiative process, and even their ability to vote.

The Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits, which merged with Arizona Grantmakers Forum in August and represents more than 1,100 nonprofit organizations across Arizona, advocates for laws and initiatives that advance nonprofits’ role in Arizonans’ civic engagement. Specifically, we support policies that promote and expand voters’ registration, education and participation in the democratic process.

Kristen Merrifield

That’s why the Alliance supports a citizens’ initiative on the Nov. 8 ballot that would empower voters by fostering transparency in future elections. It’s also why we oppose two legislative referendums on the same ballot that we believe would erode voters’ ability to control their own destinies.

Proposition 211, the Voters’ Right to Know Act, would give Arizonans the right to know the original source of all major contributions used to pay for campaign media spending. The Alliance believes an informed electorate will lead to more accountable governments at all levels, resulting in public policies that more accurately reflect voters’ views.

Voters in this election also will choose whether to give up some of their power. Proposition 132 was referred by the legislature and asks voters to change Arizona’s constitution to require 60% voter approval, rather than a majority of electors, to pass an initiative or referendum that approves a tax.

Laurie Liles

The Alliance advocates for a balanced fiscal approach that contributes to Arizona’s long-term economic growth and quality of life. And we support public policies that advance voters’ participation in the democratic process and allow policymakers—including voters—flexibility to address changing and vital needs. We oppose Proposition 132 because it would make citizens’ initiatives that generate revenue for public programs virtually impossible to pass and limit voters’ ability to shape economic policy.

Another legislative referral asks Arizonans to change voting laws in ways that could create new barriers for some voters in future elections. Proposition 309 requires photo identification for in-person voting, eliminating other currently accepted options. And it would require mail-in ballots include “early voter identification numbers” and birthdates, in addition to the current signature requirement.

The Alliance supports policies that foster voter participation. We oppose Proposition 309 because it could make voting more burdensome, especially for individuals with disabilities and elderly and minority nonprofit clients.

The most important question on this year’s ballot may be whether electors will have more power or less in future elections.

Arizona voters are about to decide.

Editor’s Note: Ms. Merrifield is CEO and Laurie Liles is chief public policy officer at the Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits.

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