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Maricopa County’s Lobbyist Helped Kill Election Reform Bills

November 20, 2022

By Corinne Murdock |

On Wednesday, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors (BOS) advised voters to petition the legislature for the election reform they’d like to see — yet it was a lobbyist who spoke out on behalf of the counties against certain election reform bills desired by constituents this past session.

Supervisor Thomas Galvin said during the meeting that voters dissatisfied with the election processes needed to direct their frustration at the state legislature. He claimed that the legislature was “sitting on their butts” when it came to establishing election law, hence why it takes so long to count the votes. 

“Go to the state legislature — they’ve been sitting on their butts, they haven’t done a single thing. If you want changes in how votes are counted, let them know,” said Galvin. “We’re all very disappointed in what happened, and we want to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Similarly, Supervisor Steve Gallardo said that it was incumbent on the legislature to reform election law.

“Many of the suggestions that were made, this board can’t do. We’re an arm of the state. You have to go to the legislature. You have to change the laws,” said Gallardo. “Give us the authority to make some of the changes that are being suggested.”

Bills designed to restructure election processes were lobbied against by someone designated to speak on behalf of the counties. Jen Marson, a lobbyist and executive director of the Arizona Association of Counties (AACo), spoke out against a number of bills introduced to refine the election processes which ultimately failed, including: 

  • SB1056, invalidating ballots not included in chain of custody documentation and making it a class 2 misdemeanor to knowingly put a ballot into the collection, verification, or tabulation process outside of the official chain of custody;
  • SB1360, granting election observers the right to observe, document, and question all stages of the election process;
  • SB1577, requiring county recorders or other lead election officials to separate and record duplicated and adjudicated ballots by their type and defect or damage, compiled in a report submitted to the legislature;
  • SB1609, requiring a court to order an election to be repeated within 90 days if a contested ballot measure or candidate didn’t receive the highest number of votes;
  • SB1359, requiring unique election system passwords for election employees, volunteers, and contractors;
  • SB1570, implementing additional voting equipment chain of custody requirements such as access restricted to authorized election personnel, tamper-proof seals for accessible ports, and chain of custody logging, as well as prohibiting voting equipment from having internet access capabilities;
  • SB1572, requiring county recorders to publish a list of eligible voters on their website 10 days before primary and general elections, as well as all ballot images and sortable cast-vote records, and requiring all ballots to be separated and tabulated by precinct;
  • SB1358, requiring ballots in counties with voting centers to be separated and grouped by precinct for hand count audits;
  • SB1404, repealing the Active Early Voting List (AEVL) and limiting early ballot voting eligibility;
  • SB1357, prohibiting election machines or devices certified by laboratories not accredited at the time of certification;
  • SB1474, declaring primary and general election days as state holidays, prohibiting voting locations from being used as on-site early voting, and establishing voting on election day only;
  • HB2241, requiring anyone dropping off an early ballot to either show ID or sign an acknowledgment that they have permission to do so on behalf of the voter.

Marson also spoke out against bills that passed, such as HB2492, which requires proof of citizenship when registering to vote. That particular law attracted lawsuits from the Department of Justice (DOJ) and voting rights groups.

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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