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Deputy Assistant Attorney General Pamela Karlan

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet

The Arizona Senate is ditching its controversial measure to knock on doors and ask Arizona residents about their voting history. According to AZCentral, Senate President Karen Fann (R) on Friday penned a letter U.S. Department of Justice detailing the decision.

The Arizona Senate's reversal comes as federal officials expressed concern about how the canvassing could infringe upon residents' civil rights and the laws enacted to put a stop to voter intimidation.The Senate contract agreement with Cyber Ninjas, the Florida-based firm tapped to conduct the audit, says that a "registration and votes cast team" has already completed work with a number "in order to statistically identify voter registrations that did not make sense, and then knock on doors to confirm if valid voters actually lived at the stated address."

However, Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan refused to explain the company's methods for identifying voters but claimed their work was "based on a statistical analysis performed by someone else he would not identify and maintained that canvassers would not ask anyone how they voted."

On Wednesday, May 5, Fann also expressed concern about the nationwide overhauls being made to voting and election practices and how many of the measures appear to be aimed at predominately minority communities. Pamela S. Karlan, who serves as the principal deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice's Department's Civil Rights Division, also weighed in with her concerns.

"Such investigative efforts can have a significant intimidating effect on qualified voters that can deter them from seeking to vote in the future," wrote Karlan.

Although the Arizona Senate has indicated that it will suspend canvassing for the foreseeable future, Fann did not say if the effort would not be revisited in the future.

Fann wrote, "If canvassing is necessary to complete the audit, we believe these protocols, which will be reinforced by thorough training programs, would permit the Senate to discharge its legislative oversight and investigation functions without compromising the rights or privacy of any voter."

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