/ Modified jan 25, 2022 9:48 a.m.

Senate committee backs bill to end local mail elections

Many municipalities, including Tucson, have embraced the practice.

ballot postal bins Postal bins with tags for ballots in the 2020 general election.
Courtesy Maricopa County Elections Department

A state Senate committee voted Tuesday to prohibit local governments like cities and school districts from holding elections entirely by mail.

Many municipalities, including Tucson, have embraced the practice.

But the sponsor of Senate Bill 1133, Sen. Wendy Rogers, R-Flagstaff, has called for strictly limiting voting by mail to military service members and people with disabilities.

And Rogers said she wants to ensure school boards in particular cannot hold all-mail elections.

“If anyone asks you what the most political office to run for is, they will tell you the school board," she told the Senate Government Committee. "School boards also have elections off-cycle from when our regular elections are. So, the feedback I've gotten as a Senator is that there are a lot of problems with school board elections and therefore I have sponsored this bill to make sure school board elections are done not by mail."

Opponents of SB 1133, like Sen. Martín Quezada, D-Phoenix, argued that ending the practice would undercut turnout in what can often be low-profile but nonetheless important elections that can determine who leads cities and how schools are funded.

"If we were to take away this option from a district like mine and the districts that surround mine — and, actually, most school districts have all-mail elections — that would devastate the turnout for these elections," he said.

The measure passed by a vote of 4-3 along party lines but still faces a vote of the full Senate.

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