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Election Integrity Arizona Activists

Updated: Dec 30, 2023

(Source: epi-toolkit_AZ-1.pdf FreedomWorks.Org)




America


Election Integrity Arizona Activists involved in the battle for election integrity need to develop a sophisticated understanding of the key players in the administration of elections in their states.


Arizona is notorious for having an exceptionally decentralized election system. The only upperlevel election position is the Secretary of State. From there, the state is broken into county, city, town, and school district political subdivisions.


Arizona’s Secretary of State is Adrian Fontes since January 2, 2023. Arizona’s State Government section of law designates the Secretary of State as responsible for certifying the election results to the Governor (A.R.S. § 41-121).


As Chief Election Officer for the state, other roles include producing the Election Procedures Manual which details the operations of elections for political subdivisions, certifying & conducting logic & accuracy tests on election equipment, maintaining the statewide voter roll, and administering the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) funds.


This position is an elected position that holds a 4-year term and is limited to 2 terms per officeholder. Essentially, the Secretary of State oversees the election processes at the state level, and in consultation with county board of supervisors and election officers in other subdivisions, produces the statewide election rules and procedures that all political subdivisions must follow (A.R.S. § 16-452).


The Governor and Attorney General serve in minor roles of approving the Election Procedures Manual and signing the official election canvass certification. The Chief Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court also signs the official election canvass certification.


Additionally, the Attorney General’s Office has an Election Integrity Unit that reviews election complaints submitted by the public to enforce civil and criminal violations of Arizona’s election code (A.R.S. § 16-1021).


General elections fall on the 2nd Tuesday of November in even years. Open Primary elections occur on the first Tuesday of August in even years. Independent voters may choose the political party’s primary ballot of their choice as long as the party has designated its primary as open.


Early voting may begin no earlier than 27 days before the official Election Day. At the local level, Arizona breaks its jurisdiction down by county, city, town, and school district. City, town, and school district elections may be mail-only and held at the discretion of the local subdivision with sufficient voter turnout.


Within 3 years of a local election with low turnout, the local subdivision (school districts excluded) must consolidate their elections in accordance with the Primary and General election calendars (A.R.S. § 16-204).


County-run elections must have in-person voting and operate in consolidation with the Primary and General election calendars. There are 15 counties, each with a Board of Supervisors and Recorder, that administer elections.


The County Recorder is responsible for administering the voter registration duties and early voting including mailing out the ballots and reviewing voter signatures on envelopes before the ballots may be counted.


Under the direction of the Board of Supervisors, the County Election Director administers the duties of Election Day operations and ballot tabulation. This includes overseeing the hiring and training of poll workers and tabulating all votes including the early ballots. Elections can be organized by election precincts, voting centers, or “other voting locations” such as ballot drop boxes (A.R.S. § 16-531).


IN-PERSON VOTING POLLING LOCATION ROLES


At least 20 days before the election, the Board of Supervisors must appoint one Inspector, one Marshal, two Judges, and Clerks in polling locations with at least 300 qualified electors. The appointees must be qualified electors of the precinct or state. No candidates (or their direct family members) may serve as a Board or Polling Worker during that election.


Precinct Committeemen are excluded from this requirement. The Board of Supervisors is responsible for ensuring Marshals, Judges, and Clerks receive training prior to the election with at least 8 hours of classroom instruction. They must pass a written examination to be certified before the election. There are also counting center election officials that the Board of Supervisors is responsible for providing training.


The Election Director serves as the officer in charge of fulfilling the duties of the Board of Supervisors. (A.R.S. § 16-531(A))


The Inspector, Marshal, and Judges must be divided equally among the top two political parties. The Judges and the Inspector make up the Board of Elections and are referred to as Board Workers.


The Board of Elections is responsible for preparing and monitoring the voting location, preserving order, managing voter lines, opening/exhibiting/locking the ballot box before receiving ballots, checking for proper identification of electors, maintaining signature rosters and e-pollbooks, directing voters to the correct polling place for in-precinct voting counties, making spoiled ballots, ensuring voted ballots are deposited into correct ballot boxes, assist voters with accessible voting equipment (bipartisan team required), closing of the polls (inspector and two judges required), preparing a report of the number of voters who have voted, sealing the box containing voted ballots, tallying write-in ballots, and returning the signature roster & copies of the precinct registers to the Board of Supervisors or Election Director.


Before opening the polls, the election board and Clerks must take an oath faithfully to perform their duties as required by law. (A.R.S. § 16-562; A.R.S. § 16-512; A.R.S. § 16-564(A); A.R.S. § 16-585; A.R.S. § 16-580; A.R.S. § 16-580(E); A.R.S. § 16-565(C); A.R.S. § 16-608(A); A.R.S. § 16-616; A.R.S. § 16-617)


THE ROLE OF OFFICERS OF ELECTION IN STATE ELECTION INFRASTRUCTURE


Under the direction of the Board of Supervisors, the County Election Director administers the duties of Election Day operations and ballot tabulation. This includes overseeing the hiring and training of poll workers and tabulating all votes including the early ballots. Elections can be organized by election precincts, voting centers, or “other voting locations” such as ballot drop boxes (A.R.S. § 16-531).


IN-PERSON VOTING POLLING LOCATION ROLES


At least 20 days before the election, the Board of Supervisors must appoint one Inspector, one Marshal, two Judges, and Clerks in polling locations with at least 300 qualified electors. The appointees must be qualified electors of the precinct or state. No candidates (or their direct family members) may serve as a Board or Polling Worker during that election.


Precinct Committeemen are excluded from this requirement. The Board of Supervisors is responsible for ensuring Marshals, Judges, and Clerks receive training prior to the election with at least 8 hours of classroom instruction.


They must pass a written examination to be certified before the election. There are also counting center election officials that the Board of Supervisors is responsible for providing training. The Election Director serves as the officer in charge of fulfilling the duties of the Board of Supervisors. (A.R.S. § 16-531(A)) The Inspector, Marshal, and Judges must be divided equally among the top two political parties.


The Judges and the Inspector make up the Board of Elections and are referred to as Board Workers.


The Board of Elections is responsible for preparing and monitoring the voting location, preserving order, managing voter lines, opening/exhibiting/locking the ballot box before receiving ballots, checking for proper identification of electors, maintaining signature rosters and e-pollbooks, directing voters to the correct polling place for in-precinct voting counties, making spoiled ballots, ensuring voted ballots are deposited into correct ballot boxes, assist voters with accessible voting equipment (bipartisan team required), closing of the polls (inspector and two judges required), preparing a report of the number of voters who have voted, sealing the box containing voted ballots, tallying write-in ballots, and returning the signature roster & copies of the precinct registers to the Board of Supervisors or Election Director. Before opening the polls, the election board and Clerks must take an oath faithfully to perform their duties as required by law. (A.R.S. § 16-562; A.R.S. § 16-512; A.R.S. § 16-564(A); A.R.S. § 16-585; A.R.S. § 16-580; A.R.S. § 16-580(E); A.R.S. § 16-565(C); A.R.S. § 16-608(A); A.R.S. § 16-616; A.R.S. § 16-617)


Here are the roles each Board and Poll Worker must play on election day: • The Inspector serves as Chairman of the Election Board, exercises authority over all election-related activities, and is responsible for assigning tasks to other Poll Workers.


THE ROLE OF OFFICERS OF ELECTION IN STATE ELECTION INFRASTRUCTURE


Inspectors have the authority to replace Poll Workers and appoint alternative Judges, Marshals, and Clerks if any worker fails to 5 perform their duties. Inspectors are also responsible for ensuring the polling place is set-up and functions properly. Such tasks include ensuring the required ballot styles/types are available, certifying the voter roster, arranging the voting booths, posting required notices, and publicly opening the sealed package of official ballots. (A.R.S. § 16-534(A), A.R.S. § 16-533, A.R.S. § 16-563, A.R.S. § 16-312(E), A.R.S. § 16-343(F)(G), A.R.S. § 16-169(B), A.R.S. § 16-579(D)(E), A.R.S. § 16-572(A))


Judges must be an alternate political party from the Inspector and serve as backups to the Inspector while primarily assisting with the voter check-in process. They oversee the voting process which includes issuing ballots to qualified voters, assisting voters with physical disabilities in signing the roster on their behalf, and examining the electronic voting equipment in comparison to the poll list or e-pollbook calculation of the number of votes/provisional ballots cast. (A.R.S. § 16-579(C); A.R.S. § 16-467(B); A.R.S. § 16-572(B); A.R.S. § 16-579(D)(E); A.R.S. § 16-602(A))


The Marshal’s primary responsibility is to preserve the order at the polls and ensure all laws are followed from the time the polls open until the ballots are counted. This includes the opening and closing of polls and prohibiting voter intimidation and/or electioneering within the 75-foot limit. Marshals also are responsible for ensuring there aren’t long lines at the polls and can authorize additional voting equipment or request additional board workers from the officer in charge of elections as necessary. (A.R.S. § 16-565(C); A.R.S. § 16-535(B))


Clerks assist voters by providing them with their correct ballots and receipts after checking in to vote. They also handle tasks for provisional ballots, keep ballot paper stocked, and perform other duties as assigned. • Voter registration Clerks assist voters in updating their voter record in the SiteBook and verifying proper identification.


Bilingual Poll Workers will be assigned in jurisdictions identified as requiring language minority provisions under Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act.

Jurisdictions under this requirement must ensure onsite access, remote interpretation services, and Election Terminology Glossaries are available in the covered language(s) at the polling places.


Student Poll Workers may be appointed at the discretion of the Board of Supervisors. They must be at least 16 years of age and have written permission from a parent or guardian. They must also be supervised by a trained adult poll worker at all times. Student absences from school for this purpose do not count against mandatory attendance or the average daily membership count of the school. (A.R.S. § 16-531(F); A.R.S. § 16-15-901(A)(1); A.R.S. § 16-531(G).


THE ROLE OF OFFICERS OF ELECTION IN STATE ELECTION INFRASTRUCTURE ADDITIONAL EARLY VOTING ROLES


There are a variety of additional roles that operate early voting, called the Early Ballot Board, which are chosen by the Recorder. In early voting, a third-party vendor prints the ballots from an elector list supplied by the County Recorder. Ballots are sent by mail and generally returned back to the third-party provider in a return sealed envelope.


The envelopes are sorted, scanned, and stored in ballot secure containers. The ballot envelope images are then reviewed by the Early Ballot Board workers for valid signatures on the affidavit. The County Recorder must contact voters whose signatures are not approved to “cure” their ballots by the fifth business day following the election.


Unsigned early ballots must be cured by 7 pm on Election Day. (A.R.S. § 16-550) Here are the roles Early Ballot Board workers must play:


Ballot processors must work in bipartisan pairs and prepare ballots for the ballot tabulation center.


Signature verification Clerks review signatures on early ballots and assist with curing ballots that are missing signatures. •


Mailroom Clerks transport and organize ballots on time-sensitive deadlines.


Adjudicators work in bipartisan teams to determine voters’ intent on ballots that were not able to be processed and counted by the machines.


Ballot tabulator Inspectors are registered independent voters that oversee the decisions of adjudication teams. Ballot tabulator operators process ballots in the Ballot Tabulation Center and prepare ballots for storage.


The Uniformed And Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) Clerks assist the military and overseas voters with instructions on using the UOVAVA portal to submit their ballots.


Bipartisan Special Election Boards visit homes, care facilities, and hospitals to provide assistance to ill or homebound voters. There are also additional positions in the warehouse and call center depending on the size of the county or political subdivision.


POLITICAL PARTY ROLES


The political parties and County Party Chairmen play a vital role in participating in and securing elections.


THE ROLE OF OFFICERS OF ELECTION IN STATE ELECTION INFRASTRUCTURE


County Party Chairmen of the two largest political parties may designate qualified electors to serve on the election and special election boards. (A.R.S. § 16-531(A); A.R.S. § 16-549(A); A.R.S. § 16-246(F))


In case of absences when the polls open at polling locations, the county chairman of the top two political parties must provide an alternative list of election board members.


Counties are required to perform Logic and Accuracy (L&A) tests before equipment is used in the election to demonstrate the equipment is recording and tabulating votes properly.


Political party members assigned by the County Chair must sign off on the certification of the L&A tests.



Poll observers serve as the first line of defense to ensure elections are operated according to our laws in a fair and open process. They are selected and trained by the county party chairman to serve as observers of poll worker processes during the registration, voting, and counting periods.


This includes the opening of the voting location, voters voting at the polling location with the exception of the voting booths that impede the secrecy of the ballot, closing of the voting location, transportation of ballots to the receiving site, and any other significant process activity.


Poll observers may not interfere in voting and may not challenge the eligibility of a voter in most circumstances. When a voter’s eligibility cannot be determined, they are allowed to cast a provisional ballot which the Recorder will verify.


All poll observers are subject to removal by the Election Director, County Recorder, or the election board officers for failure to comply with requests that interfere with election processes or violate state or federal laws.


Observers may not be within the 75ft limit or inspect, photograph, or copy early ballot envelopes, discern the identity of voters, or confront, question, or photograph individuals who dropped off early ballots per the Election Procedures Manual (2019 - pages 139-142).


Observers may take handwritten notes during their observation activities but must do so with a writing instrument of a specific color designated by the officer in charge of the election. Observers should immediately report if ballot paper shortages occur, printers malfunction, lines become unusually long, or any instance of voter intimidation/coercion/harassment by anyone.


Political parties are also required to assign volunteers to work with county election workers to conduct limited hand counts from a random sample of ballots from each precinct or vote center. • Political parties should assign volunteers to contact voters to cure their ballots that have insufficient signatures before the deadlines.



THE ROLE OF OFFICERS OF ELECTION IN STATE ELECTION INFRASTRUCTURE


To learn more about how elections operate, see the Secretary of State Election Procedures Manual or local county recorder websites. Go to the Attorney General’s website to learn more about the Election Integrity Unit.


PUBLIC PARTICIPATION OPPORTUNITIES


There are additional opportunities for the general public to participate in limited election activities prior to, during, and after the election in addition to casting a ballot. Here are the top key areas


Arizonans can work on throughout the election cycle to secure their elections:


During every legislative session, there are multiple opportunities to submit public comments to influence key election bills.


The Secretary of State Equipment Certification Advisory Committee meetings and County election meetings are open to the public occurring throughout the year prior to the election.


When it comes to the Election Procedures Manual, reviewing the manual and submitting public comment is influential in the outcome of certification by the Attorney General and Governor.


Up to months prior to the election, public records requests can be made of the county election procedures.


County Recorders certify electors as Deputy Registrars to attend voter registration events and assist new voters in their registration process.


The public is allowed to observe the L&A tests mentioned above.


During the election, every county is required to have a live feed camera of the ballot tabulation room which allows the public to view the ballots and processes at any time.


Once the official canvass is completed and certified, within five days, qualified electors may bring lawsuits contesting the election results for a limited number of grounds as identified by State law (A.R.S. § 16-672).


THE ROLE OF OFFICERS OF ELECTION IN STATE ELECTION INFRASTRUCTURE


Each Election Day, officers of elections answer questions and make decisions that matter. Questions like:


Why is the voter not on the list?


Does this voter need to cast a provisional ballot?


Are multiple election workers attending to those who are voting curbside? The outcomes of situations like these not only can affect the results of close elections, but also can determine whether voters themselves have confidence in the system.


This sentiment is at the heart of the democratic process and election integrity. Although disputed elections sometimes generate headlines for ending up in the courts or the Secretary of State’s office, most disagreements over election processes do not rise to that level.


Instead, the people who staff the polling places on Election Day and in the weeks leading up to Election Day handle these situations in early voting and mail-in ballots.


Elections officers play a crucial role in ensuring the validity of each vote and the integrity of elections. Many do not know that when someone casts a ballot, it is counted—period.


By the time problems reach beyond the walls of the polling place, it is often too late. The advantage of well-trained election officers is that they can handle problems before they become problems.


The move towards mass mail-in and early voting has boosted the need for well-trained and dedicated election officers. Even as we teach the value of voting in person on Election Day, we still need activists to play a role in running the process at early voting locations, processing absentee ballots, and reviewing and examining the late-arriving absentee ballots.


We at FreedomWorks have consistently heard that our activists who serve as election officers need a support network. As the leading conservative grassroots organization, our job is to ensure our activists have the resources and networks they need to succeed as election officers. As we train activists to become election officers, we will also build this network. Believe it or not, election administration is an area that has historically been understaffed and underfunded. The left is familiar with this game; we need our people on the inside— all the more reason to get involved today

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