Building on a year’s worth of momentum, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors just took an important step to restore our statutory responsibilities related to elections.
These responsibilities were given to the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office as part of a charter that dates back to 1955 and hasn’t been amended since 1985. Clearly, our region is much different than it was back then.
Rather than have one, partisan elected official responsible for overseeing all election activities, Maricopa County should align its operations with what is written in state law.
You may not realize this, but under state statute, county recorders in Arizona are given responsibility for several activities leading up to Election Day, including voter registration and early voting. State law gives the Boards of Supervisors responsibility for much of what happens on Election Day, including the location and number of polling places, the equipment to count votes, and the training and assigning of poll workers.
Under the decades-old charter between the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office, the elections director is hired by and reports directly to the recorder. This effectively limits the board’s role in the process to one of budget oversight.
I’ve wanted to change this for years.
With my chairmanship in 2018, the board began to take a more active role. We sent our internal auditors into the Elections Department to look at processes. We hired outside consultants to show us the gaps that were preventing the county from delivering best-in-class elections. And we fast-tracked discussions that had been long overdue about amending the charter in a way that would allow the board more oversight while also respecting the clear line drawn by state law, which gives certain responsibilities to the elected recorder.
Last month, my colleagues and I adopted the following:
This is about moving away from the past — from old technology and a decades-old charter, to running elections in a way befitting the Maricopa County of tomorrow.
We’re the 4th largest county in America. People expect us to get it right. These changes are designed to ensure we have the proper checks and balances to serve all voters in 2020 and beyond.
In the meantime, know that our eye is on the ball. We are focused on successful elections in 2020.
With this newly amended agreement that allows for collaboration with the Recorder’s Office, we are better equipped for a successful election in 2020.