In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a mandate in the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that forced certain states with a history of voter discrimination to receive federal approval before making any change to their electoral processes.
Arizona was one of these states, and since 2013 more than half of the polling places in the state have been shut down. Many of these closures have been in low-income areas, effectively suppressing the working class vote in the state. Also, with less polling locations in existence, many of them are overwhelmed on election days with too many people trying to vote at one place, leaving thousands of Arizonans still waiting in line to vote as the polls close, which we have seen in recent elections. In addition, rural areas and tribal lands have been negatively affected by these closures as well.
A major goal of democracy should be to expand the electorate and include as many people as possible in order for better representation from our elected officials. It should be easier to vote on Election Day, not more difficult. Closing polling locations is a backwards step that limits our voice and is frankly undemocratic. U.S. Representative Tom O’Halleran and other House Democrats have introduced and sponsored legislation to re-implement some of the pre-2013 provisions, including federal approval for voter ID laws, which will help reverse some of the limitations to voting that are being imposed in states like Arizona. I am confident we can return power to the people.