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Thu, April 25

Voters can learn more about jail tax, other ballot issues at forum Saturday in Prescott

The impact of recent efforts to curb voting rights and the ballot proposal to double the county's jail sales tax will be the key topics at a forum from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday in Prescott.

Voters also can learn about the statewide ballot questions. The event takes place at Las Fuentes Resort Village, 1035 Scott Dr. in the downstairs meeting room, and is sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Yavapai County.

The program "Voting Rights & Referendums" will include a presentation by Yavapai County Sheriff Scott Mascher and County Administrator Phil Bourdon on the proposed jail district sales tax and a panel discussing voting rights. The LWVCYC president will review the three statewide ballot referendums.

Voting Rights issues will be discussed by panelists Jonathan Alanis, Outreach/Development Coordinator at Arizona Advocacy, and Shayna Stevens, President and Executive Director of the Arizona Students' Association. Panelists will review the history of voting rights and how new state laws have impacted their members and constituents.

The Voting Rights Act (VRA) has protected the right to vote regardless of race or language for the past 49 years, until the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision erased fundamental protections against racial discrimination in voting in a June ruling, league officials said. Since the decision, 22 states have moved forward with voter identification laws, limiting early voting, redistricting, and limiting polling places, forcing voters in some districts to drive more than 25 miles to vote. HB 3899 updating the VRA has stalled in Congress and isn't expected to pass this year, league officials added.

Terri Farneti, president of LWVCYC, will discuss the pros and cons of the state referendums, as well as the stands taken by the Arizona League of Women Voters, which has published a Voter Education guide on the proposed laws.

The referendums include: "Proposition 122: Rejection of Unconstitutional Federal Actions" which would amend the state constitution to prohibit the state from using personnel or resources to enforce "unconstitutional" laws; "Proposition 303: Terminal Patients' Right to Try Act," allowing patient access to medication that is not FDA approved; and "Proposition 304: State Legislators Salary - Commission Recommendation," proposing to raise salaries for state legislators for the first time in 16 years from $24,000 to $35,000.

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