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Fulfilling Prop. 200's provisions still up in air

Arizona voters approved Proposition 200 in the Nov. 2, 2004, general election. The proposition contained three separate parts, the first requiring proof of citizenship when registering to vote, the second requiring proof of identity when voting in person and the third requiring proof of legal status before receiving certain welfare benefits.

County election officials throughout the state are concerned that a plan to implement the voting provision of Prop. 200 could result in turning away some voters from the polls.

Yavapai County Recorder Ana Wayman-Trujillo said the Department of Justice pre-cleared the proposition, but not the procedures for implementation since they remain undetermined.

One problem facing state officials is that while the language in the law is so specific, it does not allow for provisional voting.

Wayman-Trujillo ex-

plained that currently voters can cast a provisional ballot if they believe they are qualified to vote but their name is not on the voting roster.

"Instead of turning the voter away, the poll worker gives them a ballot and an envelope. The voter fills out the envelope stating they are qualified to vote in that precinct. Once they complete their ballot, it is placed in the envelope and given to the poll workers," Wayman-Trujillo said. "After the polls close, the information on the envelope is verified. If the voter is eligible to vote, the envelope is opened and the ballot counted. If not, the envelope is not opened and the ballot is re-

jected."

She noted that since the 1980s election officials have been trying to "figure out ways to allow people who believe they have the right to do so to vote."

Wayman-Trujillo said new residents may need a provisional ballot, but should show identification with their new address. However, she said, if a new resident goes to the wrong precinct they cannot vote.

"I think it is important to know that election officials and recorders have done everything they can to not disenfranchise any voters," Wayman-Trujillo said.

She said in addition to providing everyone a chance to vote, provisional ballots alleviate problems at the polling places on Election Day.

"One of the most important things about provisional ballots is the verification of the voter's information and signature before the envelope is even opened," Wayman-Trujillo said.

In a letter to Secretary of State Jan Brewer, Pima County Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez expressed her concerns about the proposed identity requirements, as well as the limited amount of time county officials had to consider the proposal.

She said county recorders had less than four business days to review the procedures and formulate a response.

Rodriguez also believes that the proposed procedures violate the Arizona Constitution.

"We believe that since the polling place identification provision contained in Proposition 200 was written broadly, when all other provisions of Proposition 200 were written very specifically, that the drafters of the initiative, and the voters who approved the initiative, intended that any form of identification would be acceptable, not just those issued by MVD, tribal offices or other government offices. The draft procedure is therefore an attempt to supercede the express will of the voters without any vote in the Arizona Legislature," Rodriguez wrote.

"I do not feel state officials can create or write language to allow for provisional ballots without approved identification. What the secretary of state is proposing just to vote could disenfranchise the elderly, young voters and homeless," Wayman-Trujillo said.

The first draft of rules about proof of identification at the polls includes one form of identification with a photograph, name and address of the elector; or two items with the name and address of the elector.

Acceptable forms of picture ID include valid Arizona driver's license or non-operating ID license, tribal enrollment card or other form of tribal ID, or a valid government-issued

ID.

A voter who does not have a picture ID could provide any two of the following that contain their name and address: a utility bill, bank or credit union statement, valid Arizona vehicle registration, Indian census card, property tax statement, tribal enrollment card or other form of tribal ID, certificate of naturalization or valid government-issued ID including a voter registration card from the county recorder.

Wayman-Trujillo is concerned about the right to vote of county residents who reside at the Arizona Pioneers' Home or any other assisted living or nursing homes, and the VA

hospital.

She said these qualified voters might not have any of the approved forms of identification, adding that some of the residents at the Pioneers' Home may have been born at home or may not even have birth certificates. Residents at the Pioneers' Home, assisted living or nursing homes, and the VA hospital may not have a driver's license or other form of picture ID. The residents do not receive utility bills, may not own a vehicle or property.

Wayman-Trujillo said residents might not receive a bank statement if a fiduciary or other estate manager handles their financial affairs.

The only valid government-issued ID they have may be a Medicare card.

"We need to let the legislators know language in Prop. 200 has to be included to allow for provisional ballots," Wayman-Trujillo

said.

She said county recorders want state legislators to talk with them before they make any decisions.

"The bottom line is that we don't know what is going on. State officials are working on procedures. This is part of the public comment period and they are talking with us," she said.

If procedures are written, approved by the Attorney General's Office and the governor signs them, then they must be sent to the Department of Justice for approval, which could take as long as 60 days.

Wayman-Trujillo said the identification requirements do not apply to mail-only elections or early voting.

"At this point, all elections scheduled in Yavapai County are vote-by-mail. There is a greater voter response in mail elections, but we do not want to deny anyone who feels it is their right to go to the polls to cast their

vote.

"We don't want to wait until July of next year and be facing a big election before there are procedures in place," Wayman-Trujillo said.

Contact the reporter at prhoden@prescottaz.com

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