At a recent debate ahead of Arizona’s Aug. 28 Republican primary for Secretary of State, businessman Steve Gaynor advocated for banning the printing of ballots and other election materials in Spanish, arguing that they should only be in English. Furthermore, Gaynor called for repealing the 1975 amendment to the federal Voting Rights Act that, thanks to a history of discrimination by many states—including Arizona itself—requires jurisdictions with large populations of non-English speakers to provide election materials in voters’ native languages.
Given that record of discrimination in Arizona, which is one-quarter Latino or Native American, it’s astonishing that a candidate would openly advocate for a measure that could make voting considerably more difficult for so many. But with Republicans escalating their voter suppression efforts thanks to a Supreme Court that seems determined to eviscerate the Voting Rights Act, Gaynor’s proposal isn’t an empty threat.
Gaynor is challenging Secretary of State Michele Reagan in the GOP primary for the job of Arizona’s top election administrator. (The office is also first in line to succeed the governor in case of vacancies since Arizona has no lieutenant governor.) Polling has been limited, but a late July survey from the GOP pollster Data Orbital found Gaynor with a huge 44-22 lead over Reagan, who has faced blistering criticism for incompetency during her lone term in office. A report from the state’s attorney general last year even concluded that Reagan had broken the law when she failed to send out thousands of voter information pamphlets during the 2016 elections.
Gaynor could very well become the Republican nominee, and in red-leaning Arizona, he could get elected to office. Fortunately, voters have a terrific alternative in Democrat Katie Hobbs, a true supporter of voting rights. While Gaynor wants to make sure fewer people vote, Hobbs favors policies like automatic voter registration that will make it easier to vote. That’s what any elections official should aspire to do in a democracy.
Source: Daily Kos Voting Rights Roundup, August 17, 2018