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Opinion: Election deniers still have a stranglehold on our state Legislature, and elderly voters are concerned about their efforts to increase barriers to the ballot box.

For over 20 years, I have voted by mail in nearly every election. It’s not just convenient—it gives me time to research the candidates and issues and be informed when I’m ready to cast my vote. 

Now, at 88 years old, voting by mail is a necessity. Until the final election results were called, declaring Katie Hobbs as our next governor and Adrian Fontes our secretary of state, I was worried that myself and people like me would lose access to the ballot. 

Candidates like Kari Lake and Mark Finchem made their intentions clear: They would increase barriers to voting under the guise of unfounded claims of distrust in elections. If it’s easy and tempting to believe things like limiting access to voting by mail, and requiring early ballots to be tabulated at the time of drop-off would mean earlier results on Election Day, then it’s also easy—and tempting—to forget about elderly, disabled, homeless, and active-duty voters. 

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Those measures do nothing to expedite an already efficient and secure process. They do, however, add a tremendous burden to voters and election officials. Consider how much longer poll lines would be if every voter had to wait for each ballot to be tabulated rather than dropped in the secure boxes and handled by professionals. 

Thankfully, Arizonans saw through just about every statewide candidate who pushed lies about voter fraud and stolen elections. I can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that I will still have the ability to vote in the next election. I am also proud that, in what may have been the last election I vote in, we stood up for democracy and the freedoms of one another. 

Still, there is work to be done. This legislative session, we can expect—and have already seen—a slew of bills from election deniers. In fact, these efforts are already underway. State Sen. JD Mesnard, R-Chandler, has said he intends to make early ballot tabulation at drop-off mandatory. 

I plan to do everything in my power to stop these efforts and fight for our most essential American values of freedom and democracy. Every effort counts, from calling your legislators to signing petitions, and I hope you join me. 

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