PHOENIX — A new law in Arizona makes it easier for offenders who have served their time to regain the right to vote and other civil rights.
ABC15 investigators have aired several reports about it over the past year Criminals illegally registered to vote. This coverage also revealed that Arizona had one of the most complicated processes in the country for criminals seeking their rights restored.
With the support of the legislature, the Arizona Attorney General‘s Office and defense attorneys, House Bill 2119 has become law.
“If they pay their debts to society, they should be reintegrated into society,” said Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, “and that includes voting rights, so we want to make it as simple and easy as possible.”
Beginning this year, Arizona courts must tell all felons how to restore their rights.
The first step for everyone will be to complete their probation or prison term and make amends.
After that, people with only one crime in their records are automatically restored and can immediately register to vote.
Individuals with multiple offenses no longer have a mandatory waiting period, but must file a court application and await judge approval before registering to vote.
“Before, it was really kind of random, and I think that clears up some of that,” said Steve Scharboneau of Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice. He testified at a committee hearing in favor of the changes.
The new law also simplifies the process for criminals seeking to have their gun rights restored.