Kavanagh Hand Count Bill Appears To Have Support From Stephen Richer

February 3, 2023

By Daniel Stefanski |

Election integrity measures haven’t been a source of unity for all Arizona Republicans over the past two years, but one bill just introduced by a state senator may have brought the party somewhat closer together on one aspect of reform.

The one-page bill, SB 1471, was recently introduced by Senator John Kavanagh, dealing with ballot tabulation and hand count comparison. According to the legislation, which would only apply to Arizona counties with a population of more than two million persons, “the officer in charge of elections in (these counties) shall randomly select four election precincts in the county from the ballot test decks used for logic and accuracy testing for the 2022 general election and shall recount all races using one hundred of those ballots from each precinct.” There would be a hand count of these ballots that would coincide with the machine count.

The legislation requires a county recorder to “compare the tabulator total and the hand count,” and take additional steps to recheck the counts should there be a “difference in the totals that is greater than one-tenth of one percent.” The county recorder would then “estimate how many persons working sixteen hours a day would be required to hand county the entire number of ballots cast in the November 2022 election.” After the conclusion of this process, the county recorder would transmit the report to the governor, president of the Arizona Senate, and the speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives.

Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer released a statement this week that appeared to be in support of the legislation, saying, “Smart legislation is key to improving Arizona’s elections and voters’ trust. …This legislation will build confidence in our election system by showing that machine tabulation is highly accurate, free of bias and fast. Thanks to Senator Kavanagh for this good idea.”

It remains to be seen if Republicans at the Legislature will be appreciative of Recorder Richer’s statement on SB 1471. Maricopa County officials and members of the Arizona Legislature have not always seen eye-to-eye over election integrity since the 2020 presidential contest, and there are often competing interests or motivations even in a perceived daylight of agreement between two opposing factions. Some legislative Republicans may see this bill as an opportunity to validate hand counts, while other Republicans may view this legislation as an endorsement of machine counting.

This bill has not been assigned to a committee, nor does it have any cosponsors at the time of publication.

Should this legislation pass the Arizona Senate and House, it remains to be seen whether it would be signed into law by Democrat Governor Katie Hobbs, who has promised to use her veto stamp on bills she believes are partisan in nature.

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.

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