In the final hours of the Arizona Legislature’s 2013 session the Republican members passed and Governor Brewer signed into law HB 2305, a sweeping election “reform” bill that gives almost everyone in the state a reason to be angry. Petitions are being circulated this month to demand that these changes be put to a public vote. Here are some reasons why all of us should sign on.

Dissenting voices will be suppressed by new rules requiring EVERY candidate to get the same number of nominating petition signatures regardless of party registration in their district. If you are a Democrat or Republican in a district in which your party is in the minority, it will be harder to get on the ballot. If you are a Libertarian or a Green Party candidate it will be practically impossible. Small party candidates would need thousands more signatures than in the past and it would be virtually impossible for their voices to be heard.

A second provision makes it a crime for any organization to direct its volunteers to collect early ballots from any voter. No longer will Democrats, Republicans, or for that matter, an independent organization like the Pima Council on Aging be allowed to collect ballots from nursing home residents.

Those who are on the vote by mail permanent early voter list (PEVL) but choose to vote at the polls or choose not to vote over a two-year period may be removed from the PEVL at the discretion of the County Recorder. Based on current voting statistics up to 75% of the voters likely to be purged from the PEVL in Patagonia’s Legislative District 2 will be Hispanic. The law states that the county recorders should attempt to notify voters of impending removal from the PEVL, but the voters must take written action to be reinstated on the list.

Finally, the new law makes it much easier to challenge citizen referendums by requiring that petitions adhere to the “letter of the law” rather than the former “intent of the law” standard with respect to a myriad of technical details including exact margins and the placement of staples on the petitions. No longer will you be able to photocopy a few blank petitions when you run into an enthusiastic crowd and you are out of forms. No longer will a husband be allowed to fill in an address for a wife who can barely complete her signature because of a tremor. Even replacement of a faulty staple invalidates every signature on a page.

Our democracy thrives on the active participation of its citizens. Measures such as vote by mail promote citizen participation. They should be supported—not restricted. Third party candidates bring different views that deserve to be heard and debated. They have no voice under this new law. Citizens have the right and the responsibility to overturn bad laws passed by the legislature. Our legislature is making this increasingly difficult to do. Tell our legislators that we will not be silenced. A petition to force a public vote to repeal this suppressive law will be available to sign at the Grijalva Meet and Greet, August 7, from 4 to 6 PM at Patagonia Town Hall.