Hobbs issues 99th veto: Rejects election denialism, photo radar ban
Gov. Katie Hobbs on Friday issued five more vetoes, rejecting Republican-led bills that state officials warned would have undermined and overcomplicated elections in Arizona.
With her five new vetoes, Hobbs has so far delivered 99 rejections in her first term as governor, the most of any of her predecessors.
One of the vetoes, Senate Bill 1135, would ultimately have forced the state to withdraw from the Electronic Registration Information Center, a multistate coalition that helps states share and keep accurate voter registration rolls. Known as ERIC, the coalition has come under fire from far-right conspiracy theorists who baselessly contend it facilitates election “stealing” by liberals, and several Republican states have pulled out in response. Secretary of State Adrian Fontes denounced the move on Twitter, vowing to preserve Arizona’s involvement against attacks.
Hobbs, in her veto letter, criticized Arizona Republicans for attempting to remove a key safeguard from elections in the state, while touting election integrity as a priority.
“(ERIC) is an essential tool in ensuring accurate voter registration rolls in Arizona and across the country,” she wrote, in a veto letter. “It is unfortunate that many Republicans in the Legislature continue to fan the flames of false allegations of voter fraud, yet send to my desk a bill that would prevent Arizona from joining organizations that actually help improve the integrity of our elections.”
Also rejected on Friday was Senate Bill 1105, which sought to require election workers to count early ballots at polling sites on Election Day. Currently, voters can quickly drop off their early ballots for later tabulation. Hobbs worried the measure would unnecessarily complicate the work of election officials, and create burdensome logistical challenges. During committee hearings, county and election officials warned that the bill’s provisions would require them to secure and set up thousands of new polling sites that could accommodate both in-person voting and the tabulation of early ballots.
Senate Bill 1066 would have required voter registration organizations mailing election-related documents, such as voter registration forms and guides, to print “Not from a Government Agency” on the envelopes. That text would be required to take up at least 10% of the document’s height, which Hobbs said was an “unreasonable burden” for those simply attempting to improve voter access in the state.
Senate Bill 1180 would have prohibited organizations from paying employees for the number of voter registrations they collect. Campaigns often hire and compensate third parties to run voter registration efforts on their behalf.
In a dismissal that drew Republican backlash, Hobbs killed Senate Bill 1234, which would have outlawed photo radar and red-light cameras across Arizona. City officials opposed the measure, arguing in legislative hearings that being able to outsource speeding infractions cuts down on the manpower needed to monitor roads and helps ensure safety for law enforcement officials.
Hobbs cited their criticism in her veto letter, calling photo radar a critical tool for law enforcement officials.
“This bill’s ban of photo radar would eliminate an important tool for law enforcement that allows for a more efficient allocation of limited police resources,” she wrote.
Republican lawmakers, who criticized photo radar as a privacy invasion and denounced law enforcement agencies for improperly reviewing citations as is required under state law, slammed Hobbs’ veto, accusing cities of lining their pockets to the detriment of Arizonans.
“These surveillance systems ignore the root causes of safety concerns on our roads,” said Sen. Wendy Rogers, R-Flagstaff, in an emailed statement. “They do little to eliminate threats like drunk drivers, reckless drivers or speeders. Instead, photo radar cameras provide quick cash for the coffers of unelected municipal bureaucrats.”
Two bills earned Hobbs’ approval on Friday, including Senate Bill 1188 which alters the time frame in which cities can prohibit the use of fireworks from Dec. 24 through Jan. 3 to Dec. 26 through Jan. 4, instead. Senate Bill 1197, which eliminates most court fees for juvenile offenders, was also signed. The bill was a carryover of a measure defeated last year that sought to ease the financial strain on minors caught in the justice system.