State Representatives Seek Answers from Arizona Secretary of State over Elections Manual Concerns

Arizona State Representatives Jacqueline Parker (R-Mesa) and Alexander Kolodin (R-Chandler) sent an inquiry to new Secretary of State Adrian Fontes (D), asking if he seeks to remedy errors in the state’s past Elections Procedures Manual (EPM).

“Recent Arizona court decisions give us serious concerns about the lawfulness of former Secretary Hobbs’ 2019 EPM and 2021 draft EPM. 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,” Reps. Parker and Kolodin said in a joint statement.

Parker and Kolodin serve as leaders for the House Committee on Municipal Oversight & Elections (MOE).

Under Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) § 16-452, the Secretary of State is required to create an EPM every two years after a general election that must go into effect by December 31st of that year. Before the manual can be issued, a draft must be submitted to the governor and attorney general and receive approval from both officials. Violating rules laid out in the manual results in a class two misdemeanor. It will be up to Fontes to draft and submit the 2023 EPM.

While the 2019 EMP from Hobbs was approved by former Gov. Doug Ducey (R) and former Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R), the same was not true for the 2021 manual, which was never approved. The representatives sent a letter to Fontes asking if he would be disregarding the 2021 draft which Hobbs created.

Moreover, they asked Fontes’s stance on the 2019 EPM by asking if he believed each provision in the manual was lawful and if he thought those provisions held the force of law. Additionally, Fontes was requested to provide any supplemental guidance or emails that the former secretary or her office gave to county election officials that were not outlined in the 2019 EPM. Lastly, the Reps. ask for any and all drafts of the 2023 EPM, no matter what stage of development they are in.

Parker and Kolodin stated that the information requested is essential “in the legislative decision-making process” and asked for a response by the end of the day, January 24th.

As reported by The Arizona Sun Times, Hobbs ran into trouble with her 2021 EPM when Brnovich refused to approve it. He objected to allowing voters to cast ballots in precincts they do not live in, but Hobbs declined to make the change.

In April 2022, Brnovich filed a lawsuit against Hobbs, stating that he believed 75 pages of the over 200-page draft contained rules that exceeded Hobbs’s authority or “contravened an election statute’s purpose.” Moreover, his lawsuit brought up several rules he argued were missing from the EPM, including ballot signature verification and drop box rules.

Brnovich argued his case in court in June; however, it was ultimately thrown out by judge John Napper. He stated that the three officials failed to work together to get the draft approved and that Brnovich’s complaint came too late after the December deadline. Because no EPM was approved, the 2019 version stayed in place.

The Sun Times reported that the 2019 EPM has no provisions for approving third-party ballot verification equipment. Maricopa County partnered with a company called RunBeck to help get ballots verified in the 2022 General Election.

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Neil Jones is a reporter for The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Neil on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Alex Kolodin” by Alex Kolodin for State Rep. – LD 3. Photo “Adrian Fontes” by Adrian Fontes for Arizona Secretary of State. Photo “Jacqueline Parker” by Jacqueline Parker. Background Photo “Election Day 2022” by Phil Roeder. CC BY 2.0.


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2 Thoughts to “State Representatives Seek Answers from Arizona Secretary of State over Elections Manual Concerns”

  1. Ersatz Governor Katie Hobbs is the perfect democrap, Don’t like the law? Just ignore it or issue your own law, and call it a rule or maybe an Executive Order. She should NEVER have been allowed to administer her own election.

  2. Shirley

    Oh so now we find out Hobbs got to write the last manual on basically ekection intergraty & now she gets to approve what she wrote. What’s wrong with this picture. She not only got to oversee the election she was running in but had a say in making it be certified. This state is slowly becoming California. Time for people to start standings up & SHOUTING loudly ENOUGH is ENOUGH