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Arizona bill restricts post-election ballot signature fixes

April 30, 2021 GMT

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona voters who forget to sign their mail ballots would have to fix the problem by 7 p.m. on election day under legislation approved Thursday by House Republicans.

The measure codifies in state law the rules as implemented for the 2020 election and blocks a five-day curing period after the election, which Secretary of State Katie Hobbs tried unsuccessfully to implement to settle a lawsuit filed by the Navajo Nation. Before 2020, policies for handling missing signatures varied by county.

Voting rights advocates condemned the legislation and urged Gov. Doug Ducey to veto it.

The measure would require county election officials to notify voters who fail to sign their ballots. But critics say those who return them on Election Day or shortly before would not have time to fix the problem. Voters who do sign their ballots but have the signature rejected because it doesn’t closely match the one on file would still get five days after the election to resolve the issue.

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Rep. Jasmine Blackwater-Nygren, a Democrat who represents the Navajo Nation, said the measure will have a particularly big impact on voters whose first language isn’t English, such as those who primarily speak Navajo.

Republican Rep. David Cook of Globe said there’s nothing wrong with expecting people to sign their ballots by the end of the voting period.

“If you can’t follow the instructions and you cant sign an affidavit under penalty of perjury, then your ballot should not have been counted,” Cook said.

The measure passed the Senate earlier then year then stalled in the House. It was revived on Thursday and sent to Ducey as all election-related bills remain in limbo in the Senate because of a disagreement among Republicans.