Hobbs Elections Committee falls flat


A Governor Hobbs created committee reviewing Arizona election law and administration has been working for months to propose real, meaningful solutions for the actual problems plaguing Arizona’s elections. 

But the results of the Governor’s Bipartisan Elections Task Force probably don’t merit much more attention than Gov. Katie Hobbs gave them — she bailed on the task force’s big meeting yesterday after some brief opening remarks.

“We tried to come up with a list that we thought would gain bipartisan support at the Legislature,” Helen Purcell, the task force co-chair and former Maricopa County Recorder, said.

And after all that work, policymakers appear no closer to addressing the biggest potential crisis facing Arizona elections: the incredibly tight deadlines and liberal recount laws that could threaten the state’s ability to meet federal deadlines for certifying the presidential election.

Some of the highlights of the proposals include: 

  • Eliminate the requirement that voters sign an affidavit that they’re having an emergency in order to vote on the weekend before an election, which is currently reserved for “emergency voting.”
  • Pass a law to explicitly prohibit harassing voters who are delivering their ballots, by treating ballot drop boxes as an extension of a polling place. 
  • Create incentives to recruit poll workers, like child care and paid time off for government employees.
  • Stop requiring people to re-register to vote when they move across counties within Arizona. 

Proposals that are unlikely to be even considered:

  • Automatically restore voting rights to people as soon as they are no longer incarcerated. Current law allows automatic rights restoration for first-time felony offenders after additional conditions are met, but the process for restoring the right to vote is far more difficult after a second felony. 
  • Repeal the law that Republicans just passed last year dramatically decreasing the threshold to trigger an automatic recount of an election.

The recount law, in particular, is part of a critical discussion about Arizona’s election timeline, which officials fear could put the state at risk of blowing federal election certification deadlines. 

“When we lowered that (recount threshold) to half a percent, we did it based on falsehoods and conspiracy theories and lies about our election systems. They were running just fine before we lowered that standard,” task force member and Secretary of State Adrian Fontes told reporters yesterday. 

Task force co-chair and lawmaker Ken Bennett, who voted for the law to decrease the recount threshold and for the task force’s proposal to repeal it, didn’t think his fellow Republican lawmakers would take kindly to the idea of repealing the new law (nor will they likely appreciate Fontes’ assessment of why it should go). 

At this point, even the most conservative lawmakers acknowledge the deadlines are a problem. The task force laid out a host of potential changes that might speed up Arizona’s election timeline. But finding solutions that can garner actual bipartisan support at the Capitol is going to be difficult.

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