Our democracy is under siege at every level of government and in states across the country. I lived it firsthand in 2020 when armed protesters surrounded my house while we administered the safest, most secure election in Arizona history. We later saw the U.S. Capitol attacked after Donald Trump refused to accept the result of the 2020 election and after numerous failed attempts to alter the outcome of one of the most important and secure elections in our lifetime. These attacks are now the new normal we face as we fight to protect our democracy.
As Arizona’s secretary of state, I’ve had the unfortunate distinction of directly witnessing the lengths that the election deniers will go to jeopardize our free and fair elections. They’ve run multiple fraudulent audits of the 2020 election in Arizona, despite the fact that the results were verified by members of both parties, as well as by Arizona’s governor and attorney general, both of whom are Republicans. County supervisors received orange jumpsuits in the mail as threats. Armed protestors gathered outside my house, yelling, “Katie come out and play. We are watching you.”
As insidious as these actions were, we’re now facing a better-coordinated, increasingly complex and more determined effort from those who seek to undermine our democracy. Across the country, Republican legislatures are hard at work passing laws to restrict and deny the fundamental and sacred freedom to vote. Even worse, conspiracy theorists are running for public office so they can be in charge of administering future elections.
Here in Arizona, Republicans wasted no time introducing a flurry of voter suppression bills. Just to mention a few, they proposed new limitations on in-person early voting, banning the use of drop boxes, new voter-ID requirements and making it easier to throw out valid ballots. And just a few weeks ago, Gov. Doug Ducey (R) caved to the election deniers and signed a bill to make it harder for people who are already registered to vote to exercise their right. Not to mention, right now, Republicans are fighting to end early voting – the very law they signed 30 years ago – even though 90% of Arizonans voted early in 2020, including the Republicans now trying to eliminate it.
There is no mistaking what these Republicans are doing. They are explicitly and unapologetically making the ballot box inaccessible for voters, especially for people of color and seniors. The freedom to vote is fundamental to our democracy. Without it, we won’t have a democracy to protect.
This isn’t about relitigating the 2020 election. Republicans are laying the groundwork to overturn future elections here in Arizona and across the country. The same Republicans who didn’t hesitate to waste more than $4 million in taxpayer money for their sham “audit” are championing legislation intended to sow doubt and damage the integrity of our electoral system for years to come.
When people ask me what they can do to push back against these attacks, here’s what I tell them: This fight has been happening at the state level, and we all need to meet it there. That’s exactly what I’ve done in Arizona. As secretary of state, I’ve consistently fought to protect the integrity of our elections and expand access to the ballot for every eligible Arizonan. In the middle of a pandemic, my office worked tirelessly to ensure that no voter had to choose between exercising their constitutionally protected right to vote and their health and safety. As a result, Arizonans went to the polls in historic numbers and participated safely and securely in our democracy.
This is the level of commitment to safeguarding our democracy that everyone should demand from their leaders. That’s why I’ve called for much-needed election reforms at the state level to restore voters’ confidence that our elections are conducted safely and securely, and to make sure that participating in our democracy isn’t out of reach for anyone.
We must protect the freedom to vote for every eligible Arizonan and do away with long-standing discriminatory policies by expanding access to voting in communities of color and automatically restoring voting rights for those who have repaid their debt to society. We must ensure that our election systems remain safe and secure and hold those who threaten election workers accountable. And we must make registering and voting more accessible to all eligible voters by enacting same-day voter registration, extending early voting and making Election Day a national holiday.
With the ongoing attacks on the integrity of our elections and on democracy itself, there is simply too much at stake to remain on the sidelines. That’s why I’m in this fight — to make sure that the promise of a more perfect union remains within reach, for us and for future generations. This moment deserves nothing less.
Katie Hobbs is the secretary of state of Arizona and a current candidate for governor of Arizona. She previously served as an Arizona state senator and Arizona state representative.