pima county
Pima County Recorder Prohibiting Political Party Poll Watchers

July 20, 2022

By Corinne Murdock |

Pima County Recorder Gabriella Cázares-Kelly has prohibited political party observers from accessing 15 in-person early voting locations. Counsel for the Republican National Committee (RNC) sent a letter to Cázares-Kelly on Tuesday asking the recorder to reconsider her decision. At present, only 4 of the 15 voting sites have opened. The remainder are scheduled to open next Monday, July 25. 

AZ Free News reached out to Cázares-Kelly about the issue. She didn’t respond by press time.

Arizona law allows at least one representative from each political party to be present.  Cázares-Kelly declared in a press release last Wednesday that political party observers were “a courtesy” and that requests to allow observers were given on short notice. 

Cázares-Kelly further claimed that the early voting locations lacked enough space to accommodate observers, and that her office lacked personnel to oversee observers. The recorder noted that observers were welcome at the ballot processing center instead. 

“All our experienced staffers are busy ensuring a successful and secure Early Voting process,” wrote Cázares-Kelly. “While we are unable to accommodate observers at our Early Voting sites at this time with such short notice due to staffing and space issues, we are happy to work with the public to find ways in which they can be certain that our processes are conducted in a fair and secure manner that may include a scheduled one-time visit or revisiting our policy for future elections contingent on conditions that will allow for it.”

The RNC letter obtained by AZ Free News reflected Cázares-Kelly’s concerns. Eric Spencer, the attorney with RNC’s counsel Snell & Wilmer, said that he sympathized with the recorder’s concerns but insisted that party observers ensured free and fair voting, therefore boosting voter confidence.

“I respectfully submit that the introduction of party observers is a hugely stabilizing influence on the voting process,” wrote Spencer. “For my part, I stand ready to assist you in any way possible to open some of these doors for a group of dedicated and patriotic individuals who are ready to serve.”

The lack of political party poll observers isn’t the only controversy Pima County has faced over its current elections. They also halved their operations from 280 voting precinct locations to 129 vote centers. These voting centers have faced criticism for their “catch-all” method of accepting ballots from any precinct rather than designated ones. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

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