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Brewer's Other Veto: Silencing Arizona

Posted: Updated:
JAN BREWER
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Much was said last week about Arizona Governor Jan Brewer's veto of SB 1062, a law that would have given businesses a license to discriminate.

Lost amid the noise was another veto, one Governor Brewer issued by signing legislation overturning HB 2305, a package of voter suppression laws. The package was a broad and far-reaching bill, with provisions that would have kicked voters off the state's permanent early voting rolls and criminalized "get out the vote" activities that are designed to increase participation in voting.

So as some were praising the Governor for vetoing the license-to-discriminate bill, should we also have praised her for overturning HB 2305?

Don't be fooled. There's more to the story.

Earlier this year, 146,000 voters in Arizona signed a petition to put a referendum of HB 2305 on the ballot in November. When the Governor overturned the law, she also voided the referendum. As such, voters will no longer get the final say on the matter.

The Governor stopped a statewide conversation about picking and choosing who gets to vote - an important conversation that is currently happening all across America.

Here are some of the most important ballot measures on voting access that we're watching in 2014:

• In Missouri, a proposed initiative would create six weeks of early voting prior to the general election. The initiative's proponents are gathering signatures to put their proposal on the ballot in November.

• In Ohio, a ballot initiative that would lock in early voting and make it easier for people to register to vote has, so far, been blocked by Attorney General Mike DeWine. The initiative's proponents hope to qualify for the general election this fall.

• In Montana, the legislature put two measures on the November ballot that restrict access to voting. One would eliminate same-day registration. The other would exclude third party candidates from the general election.

A number of other states have potential ballot measures requiring photo ID when voting or expanding access to early voting.

• The last time voters were asked to weigh in on voting rights was two years ago in Minnesota, where a proposal to require photo ID was shot down by the voters.

Americans are seeing their voting rights restricted all across the country. Fueled by groups such as ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council) and its network of state-based stink tanks, efforts to strip away voting rights have popped up in more than 19 states with proposals to reduce voter registration opportunities, reduce access to early voting and make it harder for students to vote.

Limiting participation in our democracy allows politicians to pick the voters who decide everything from candidate elections to economic fairness, protecting women's health, workers' rights and LGBT equality. Disturbingly, this effort disproportionately excludes women, people of color, transgender people and the elderly from participating.

In several states, including Arizona, voters are using ballot measures to protect their right to vote and lend their voices to this national conversation on voting rights.

What's more American than discussing our right to vote and access to the ballot box?

Brewer's actions may have stopped the referendum, but she hasn't stopped the conversation. And in this conversation, voters have a voice.