Arizona Lawmaker Proposes Changing Who Can Vote In State Elections

Published: Wednesday, January 18, 2017 - 2:25pm
Updated: Thursday, January 19, 2017 - 9:38am
(Photo courtesy of the Arizona State Legislature)
Rep. Bob Thorpe, R-Flagstaff.

A northern Arizona lawmaker wants to change who can vote in future state elections and amend two statewide voter initiatives.  One of the measures, if passed, could override Flagstaff’s recent three-stage minimum wage increase.

Beginning with House Bill 2260, Republican Rep. Bob Thorpe proposed making it illegal for students to register to vote if they live in a dormitory or apartment.  It would only allow students to register if they were living at home with their parents before enrolling in a college.

His proposal faces plenty of opposition from both Democrats and Republicans, including Secretary of State Michele Reagan.

“I’m not in favor of that as somebody who spent the last year on all of the college campuses, personally, registering people to vote,” Reagan reflected, “It was hard enough getting that age group energized."

Reagan, who is working with Arizona State University on a pilot program allowing college students to register to vote when they register for classes, said if Thorpe’s bill were to pass, “(It) would fly in the face of everything we’ve tried to do in the past year.”

Democrat Sen. Steve Farley argued it was already difficult getting young voters to the polls in the run up to the 2016 election.

“If they're committed to their college community, committed enough to want to register as a resident to vote, then we ought to encourage that," Farley noted. "That's part of civil society and learning how to be a good American."

With House Bill 2124, Thorpe proposed barring local governments from raising minimum wages above the state level.  If passed, it would reverse any local wage increases higher the new statewide minimum of $10 an hour.  The same measure would also allow employers to pay wages below the state minimum while an employee is in training.  

Another bill authored by Thorpe is House Bill 2255.  It blocks out-of-state ballot campaign contributions.  The measure leaves a loophole, however, for out-of-state residents to continue supporting candidates and campaign committees. 

Rep. Ken Clark, D-Tucson, said it would be one thing if Thorpe were seeking to shed light on donation sources, then added, "But I don't think you can legally restrict out-of-state money from being spent in Arizona."

Thorpe refused to speak about any of his proposals with our reporter.

Howie Fischer contributed to this story.

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