By Corinne Murdock |
On Tuesday, lawmakers asked Secretary of State Adrian Fontes to reject the Election Procedure Manuals (EPM) drafted by Governor Katie Hobbs when she was the secretary of state, per recent court decisions.
The dubious EPMs were the 2019 and 2021 versions drafted by Governor Katie Hobbs during her service as secretary of state. Court decisions in Brnovich v. Hobbs, McKenna v. Soto, Leach v. Hobbs, and Leibsohn v. Hobbs declared that these EPMs weren’t in line with state law.
In a joint statement issued Tuesday, State Reps. Jacqueline Parker (R-LD15) and Alex Kolodin (R-LD03) insisted to Fontes that the court decisions merited review of the EPMs. Parker chairs the House Committee on Municipal Oversight & Elections, and Kolodin serves as the vice chair.
“Recent Arizona court decisions give us serious concerns about the lawfulness of former Secretary Hobbs’ 2019 EPM and 2021 draft EPM,” said Parker and Kolodin. “Arizona law purports to authorize the EPM to achieve and maintain the maximum degree of correctness, impartiality, uniformity and efficiency in voting procedures throughout the state. But we question whether these mandates have been followed. We hope Secretary Fontes more fully evaluates where the prior Secretary overstepped her bounds and look forward to hearing how those errors will be corrected.”
Parker and Kolodin asked Fontes to include them in the stakeholder input process. They asked Fontes whether he would disregard Hobbs’ 2021 draft EPM; if he believed the 2019 EPM followed and carried the enforcement of state statute; and for his supplementation of any guidance, statements, emails, or directives that Hobbs or her agents gave to county election officials concerning the 2022 General Election not written in the 2019 EPM.
The duo also asked Fontes for copies of any and all drafts of the 2023 EPM, as well as communications regarding third-party input or proposals. They set next Tuesday, Jan. 24, as their deadline.
Brnovich v. Hobbs ruled that the 2021 draft EPM failed to meet statute deadline. McKenna v. Soto and Leach v. Hobbs determined that the 2019 EPM language added onto statute language and was therefore impermissible. Finally, Leibsohn v. Hobbs ruled that Hobbs’ electronic registration process for signature gathering was deficient and non-compliant with state statute.
When former attorney general Mark Brnovich rejected the 2021 draft EPM over concerns later confirmed by court decisions, Hobbs insisted that his grievances had no merit.
It appears that Fontes wouldn’t disregard Hobbs’ EPMs, regardless of court decisions. Fontes supported the Arizona Supreme Court decision upholding the 2019 EPM in McKenna v. Soto.
“This effectively shifts the burden from the petitioner (voter) to the government, maximizing all voters’ voices in the process,” stated Fontes. “This is a MASSIVE WIN for voters!”
Fontes also told his GOP opponent in the secretary of state race, Mark Finchem, to read the EPM last September.
Fontes’ office didn’t issue an immediate public response to the request letter. However, he did advertise an upcoming panel with Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer.