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Church State Issues

Why can only REGISTERED VOTERS leave comments???

Feb 15, 2014

Arizona Republic

Why can only REGISTERED VOTERS leave comments??? I thought our government masters claimed they were public servants who served us ALL, not just registered voters.

I know there is a second web site like this which is funded by the government, in which you can leave comments on pending bills. At that site ANYBODY can make comments. Well almost anybody. The catch is you or a friend have to personally go down to the state capital and register to use the web site.

I know several members of AU or Americans United for Separation of Church and state have been going down to the Arizona State Capital and registering for people who didn't have time or the resources to go down and do it themselves.


Website allows voters to leave comments on Arizona bills

By Alia Beard Rau The Republic | azcentral.com Thu Feb 13, 2014 10:33 PM

Arizonans no longer have to trek to the Capitol to weigh in on the work their state Legislature is doing. Nor do they have to make a phone call or write an e-mail to deliver a message that may never reach their lawmaker.

A new website, the first of its kind in the nation, according to its creators, allows registered voters to show their support or opposition to bills and leave comments on the more than 1,000 bills introduced this session. Azvoices.gov also allows anyone to offer ideas for how to improve Arizona.

The site is the brainchild of Sen. Bob Worsley, R-Mesa, who said that after a year in the Legislature, he has been frustrated by what he says is the lack of a coordinated vision for the state and the random legislation that is introduced as a result.

“It’s insane,” Worsley said. “Every January and February, it’s like, ‘What are these guys going to introduce now?’It is time to take these 90 people and have the state’s 6million hold them accountable.”

The website allows lawmakers to track how voters from their districts feel about a bill. The site tracks voters’ ages but keeps names hidden.

Worsley hopes the site starts a public conversation about Arizonans’ vision for the future and the legislation needed to get there.

“We are down here spending the state’s money, and we’re running ‘chickens in the backyard’ bills because (Sen.) David Farnsworth likes chickens,” he said, noting that many bills are tailored to a few individuals or special interests.

Ironically, Farnsworth’s Senate Bill 1151, which prohibits cities and counties from banning chickens, pops up as the most popular bill so far on the new site, with 12 votes and eight comments. Most are in support.

Secretary of State Ken Bennett worked to connect the site to the voter rolls to ensure that registered voters could vote only once on each bill. Worsley and Bennett unveiled the site jointly on Thursday.

“Maybe you live in a remote area and getting down to the Capitol is difficult, or you are busy in your life,” Bennett said. “This allows 24/7 access.”

The site was developed by the Omaha company MindMixer using private donations. The company has produced public-input sites for cities and counties nationwide but never for a state.

Other states are connecting voters with lawmakers in different ways, according to Pam Greenberg of the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Alaska has a website that also uses voter-registration lists, allowing voters to send lawmakers a 50-word message. New York allows residents to comment on hot bills of the moment. Washington has a link next to each bill on its legislative site allowing people to comment on that particular bill.

But none appears to provide the demographic summary of who is supporting or opposing and commenting on each bill the way Arizona’s new site does.

Retired Tucson pollster Margaret Kenski said sites such as Arizona’s can influence how lawmakers vote, particularly if they’re in swing districts.

“It will tell them what people who are very attentive to the issues or who are very intense about a particular issue feel,” she said. “It’s a heads-up on support or opposition.”

Worsley said he already has begun to use the site during committee hearings, logging in to check on voters’ positions on the bills he is about to vote on.

Under the ideas portion of the site, Worsley has started a discussion about Arizonans’ vision for the state, saying that the state lacks a common vision and that legislation tends to be a special-interest haven.

“I love that we can solicit voters in terms of what their ideas are to improve the state,” he said. “We should be working together. And, hopefully, the best ideas can become laws in the future.”

Sign up through Facebook, Google, LinkedIn or with an e-mail address. It will ask for your birthday, ZIP code and later a driver’s license or registrant ID number to determine whether you are a registered Arizona voter. Only registered voters can vote on bills. Anyone can comment on the site.

Arizona Bills

Under the bill portion of the site, you can search for bills by status, number, topic or popularity. You can also review the full list of more than 1,000 bills and

quickly see where they are in the legislative process and their vote tally.

Click on a bill to access the full text of the bill, as well as to vote and comment. You can read others’ comments and share the bill on social media.

At the top right of each bill is a link to an overview of details on lawmakers’ votes and where it is in the legislative process. “View report” shows voting on the bill by age, gender and legislative district.

Submitting Policy Ideas

Under the ideas section, voters are asked: “How would you improve Arizona? What’s the problem and what’s your solution?” Voters can add their ideas and comment on the ideas of others.