By Corinne Murdock |
Pinal County Elections Director Geraldine (Geri) Roll quit her job, leaving the county once again without a leader on election administration.
Roll alleged that politicization of the office had created a hostile work environment left unchecked and even welcomed by County Manager Leo Lew and the Pinal County Board of Supervisors (BOS).
Roll’s quitting comes six months after she first assumed the position: last December. Less than a week prior to her resignation email, Roll provided updates on the county’s latest election administration efforts during this most recent BOS meeting. This included an upgrade to the ES&S management system for software; the rollout of electronic voter check-in and verification tablets known as Poll Pads; and the pausing of their manual tabulation exercise in order to work with the state on improving it.
On the morning of last week’s BOS meeting, Pinal County GOP Chair Belinda Rodriguez emailed the board with concerns that Roll was undertaking actions independently that she and other county GOP leaders believed would jeopardize the integrity of future elections. Rodriguez cited their exclusion from a hand count exercise in May while Pinal County Democrats were included, as well as Geri’s move to cancel a contract for GPS tracking on ballot transports.
“I’m sure Geri was a great attorney in both Maricopa and Pinal County,” wrote Rodriguez. “However, I have some reservations that her knowledge and skills can lead us to a successful election without its integrity being compromised or challenged. I am concerned that we are heading towards another botched election.”
The BOS heeded Roll’s advice and canceled the GPS tracking contract during last week’s meeting (Item 8H).
The following is Roll’s email to the county manager:
With no regrets, I quit.
When you no longer respect those you work for, it is time to leave. I have watched as you idly stood by when I was attacked. I cannot work for an individual who does not support me. The environment fostered by your team and the Board of Supervisors is toxic.
I believe the Elections Department should not be politicized. You relegate impartiality, common sense and dedicated work to irrational, extremist political party views and rhetoric. It is a far reach to see how you will deliver clean elections when you bend to a faction of the Republican party. Clearly, politics are the value this administration desires in a place where politics have no place: elections administration.
In my career, I have never been subject to the ridicule, disrespect, intimidation and attacks on my reputation and ethics that I have endured in these past months.
Really, Not Respectfully,
Lew responded with thanks to Roll for taking on the position as long as she did.
“I want to thank Geri for her service during very challenging times and for the improvements that she identified and began to implement in the Elections Department,” stated Lew. “Although I disagree with her assessment, she has been an impactful public servant, and I wish her the best and know that she will continue to do great things in her career.”
In a December report, Roll attributed disparities between the official canvass and the recount results to administrative neglect.
“One factor underlying this disparity is that the canvass was filed prior to taking an adequate opportunity to investigate any possible anomalies we could discern from polling place returns,” said Roll.
In a January BOS meeting, Roll again admitted that the canvass was done “prematurely” and that the county “certainly” had time to address pressing questions about elections administration prior to the deadline for certification.
“Again, I believe the canvass was done prematurely[.] I think we had enough to have raised a few questions and we should have taken more steps before we canvassed,” said Roll. “No opportunity was taken to really look at those numbers carefully.”
Prior to serving as the elections director, Roll worked for ten years in the county attorney’s and public fiduciary’s offices. While a civil deputy county attorney, Roll advised the Pinal County recorder and elections offices. Prior to Pinal County, Roll worked as a deputy county attorney for the attorney’s offices in Maricopa and Graham counties, and as an assistant attorney general for the state.