Arizona Republican state Rep. John Kavanagh sparked outrage Thursday after he explained that GOP-led efforts to restrict ballot access in Arizona are about trying to ensure “the quality of the votes” as opposed to expanding the quantity, as Democrats and voting rights advocates say massive Republican efforts across the country to restrict voting access amount to voter suppression efforts.
Kavanagh said in an interview with CNN the party’s efforts to put additional restrictions in place are because “everybody shouldn’t be voting.”
He was specifically referring to a bill that has passed the state Senate, which proposes sending notices to residents on the permanent early voting list who have not voted in the past four elections that require a response or the voter is purged from the rolls.
Several other bills have been introduced in Arizona this year, including a proposal to eliminate voters’ ability to return absentee ballots by mail, requiring voters to instead bring those ballots back in person.
In a statement to Forbes, Kavanagh said his quotes were being taken out of context by critics as a political hit, saying, “I think all legally eligible voters should vote but I do not want to register people who are disinterested and do not want to be registered to vote.”
“Democrats value as many people as possible voting, and they’re willing to risk fraud. Republicans are more concerned about fraud, so we don’t mind putting security measures in that won’t let everybody vote—but everybody shouldn’t be voting,” Kavanagh told CNN.
Kavanagh’s comments were widely taken by many as essentially an admission of a voter suppression effort.
19. That’s how many bills have been introduced in Arizona this year aimed at restricting voting—the most of any state in the U.S., according to the Brennan Center for Justice.
Over 250 bills have been filed in 43 states to limit voting access this year, according to the Brennan Center, as part of what appears to be a direct extension of former President Donald Trump’s false claims of voter fraud around the 2020 presidential election results. Unlike most of the states where bills have been filed, though, Arizona’s proposals could have an immediate influence on the electoral map. President Joe Biden won the state by an extremely narrow margin—fewer than 11,000 votes—meaning even a slight new restriction on voting could have major consequences in a state where nearly 3.4 million votes were cast. Republicans also remain in control of both chambers of the state legislature and the governorship, despite the presidential loss.
A similar effort is taking place in Georgia, where Biden won by very slim margins, yet the legislature and the governorship are controlled by Republicans. The GOP there has proposed a dozen bills to restrict ballot access, through measures like eliminating no-excuse absentee voting and curtailing early voting hours.