May 2, 2005
Republican legislators are playing a high-stakes game of chicken with Gov. Janet Napolitano over who gets to vote in elections.
GOP members have agreed to send the governor a bill on voter identification requirements — even though she vetoed identical language less than two weeks ago.
A key aide said Napolitano hasn’t changed her mind.
Another veto would mean that no Arizonans would have to prove who they are before casting a ballot, despite overwhelming approval of Proposition 200, which mandates voter identification, last year.
At issue are provisional ballots, which historically have been made available when a voter’s eligibility is questioned. Provisional ballots are placed in envelopes with the voter’s signature on the outside. If the signature matches one on file in the county elections office, the ballot is counted.
Proposition 200, approved in November, made no arrangements for provisional ballots, so Attorney General Terry Goddard said no one can be asked for ID until that element is addressed.
Lawmakers sent just such a bill to Napolitano earlier this month. But they also said at least some form of identification is required to get a provisional ballot.
Napolitano considered that provision unacceptable and vetoed the bill, saying it violates the federal Help America Vote Act.
Since the veto, a senior official at the Justice Department said it was legal to ask for identification for provisional ballots.
That official, Sheldon Bradshaw, said that while the voting act requires states to make provisional ballots available, nothing in that law precludes states from imposing additional restrictions.
But Tim Nelson, the governor’s chief legal counsel, said Napolitano hasn’t changed her mind, still believes the proposal is wrong and will veto it again.
Without a change in the law, no one can be required to provide identification.
Rep. Russell Pearce, RMesa, said if that happens, voters should direct any political anger at the governor. "She’ll be the one violating the will of the people,’’ he said.