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Arizona Faith And Community Leaders Urge Lawmakers To Reject Voting Restrictions

A broad coalition of faith leaders, voting rights activists and criminal justice reform advocates descended on the Arizona Capitol on Tuesday urging lawmakers to use their authority for good.

Too often, they say that’s not the case.

“As the Bible says, we stand and ask that justice would roll like waters and justice would, and righteousness like an ever flowing stream. That's not what we see in these bills that have been introduced that further divide God's people rather than bringing them together,” said the Rev. Reginald Walton, chair of civic engagement for the African American Christian Clergy Coalition.

Speakers from organizations including Mi Familia Vota, Neighborhood Ministries and the ACLU of Arizona covered a variety of issues, from criminal justice reform to the First Amendment right to protest. But they reserved much of their focus for bills they say would add unnecessary voting restrictions.

They urged lawmakers to reject bills that would purge the early voting list, reduce the amount of time Arizonans have to vote and add voter ID requirements for those who vote by mail.

They also threw their support behind bills that would expand early release credits for the incarcerated and create new independent oversight of the beleaguered Corrections Department.

The Rev. Katie Sexton-Wood, the executive director of the Arizona Faith Network, said she hopes hearing the message from a diverse group may have an impact.

“The call to love our neighbor is not a passive one,” Sexton-Wood said. “It is one that requires us to stand up and to speak up when the voices of our vulnerable neighbors across this state are being suppressed by lawmakers.”

→  Tensions Rise In Arizona Senate As Republicans Approve Voting Restrictions

Ben Giles is a senior editor at KJZZ.