Even the most casual of observers will readily note that there is something terribly wrong with the way that the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office has been conducting elections.
The chaos surrounding the office has been the source of embarrassing national headlines nearly every election cycle.
There is no question that County Recorder Adrian Fontes has been behaving in a highly partisan manner, but the level of incompetence and negligence he has demonstrated far outweighs any partisan issues that may exist.
In fact, complaints about Fontes have been coming from both sides of the political spectrum.
For example, the Azcentral.com, no friend of Republicans, has had two editorials documenting numerous instances of very questionable behavior by the county recorder.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, talk radio host James T. Harris, no friend of Democrats, has discussed at length the antics of the County Recorder:
Clearly, this is a non-partisan issue. Bad election handling hurts everyone.
Having established beyond a shadow of a doubt that we have a problem, the question becomes: What can we do about it?
We will be exploring various options shortly, but first it would be useful to look at a brief history of how the elections have been handled over the past 30 years.
Back in February, 1985, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors (BoS) entered into an intergovernmental agency agreement with the Maricopa County Recorder (CR) to handle elections as a means of saving money and fostering efficiency.
Elections went fairly smoothly until 2016 when the CR was plagued by numerous instances of inefficiencies and incompetence. The voters were so enraged by this that they voted for a radical change, replacing the incumbent Republican CR with a Democrat CR.
Because of new blood in command, and a different party in charge, expectations were high for drastic changes that would improve the way elections were conducted. Drastic changes happened all right, but the results were totally opposite of expectations.
Conditions are now substantially worse than they were in 2016, which brings us back to the question of what should be done to institute a fix. Here are some options:
- Defeat current CR at the ballot box. This is not a viable solution for two reasons. First, there is no reason to believe that a newly elected Republican will do better than the current Democrat, since we had issues when a Republican was in charge. Second, the results of the remedy, good or bad, would not take effect until after the 2020 elections.
- Enact legislation to rein in current CR. We already have plenty of laws that guide the elections process but are not being followed. Furthermore, because of the current composition of the AZ legislature, any attempt to find a legislative solution will be met with substantial opposition.
- Law suit. Even if voters were to win a law suit, the process will take many years, especially if the losing side appeals. The benefits, if any, will not accrue until well after the 2020 elections.
There is one solution that is long term, can bring needed changes immediately, is non-political and non-partisan, does not require legislation, litigation, or any other lengthy and complicated process.
All it takes is action by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors to remove elections from the County Recorder. The Board of Supervisors has absolute statutory and contractual power to do this.
The fact that they have not done this already is a clear indication that they are not aware of any citizen driven ground swell of support for this action.
To remedy that, we at the AZ Rapid Response Team (AZRRT) are recommending that concerned citizens do the following:
Contact the members of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and request that they transfer all elections related duties from the Maricopa County Recorder to a non-partisan, non-political entity, chosen and supervised by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors.
The Board of Supervisors will not do a thing unless they receive an overwhelming number of requests from the citizens of Maricopa County.
But what about citizens who live outside of Maricopa County? They should also participate for two reasons. One is that what happens in Maricopa County affects the whole state. The other is a matter of solidarity and reciprocity. We routinely assist rural areas with their issues. They should help us with ours.
Contact Information – Call or e-mail
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Send one e-mail to all 5 supervisors
Go through these simple steps:
- Open your e-mail program
- Highlight all the addresses in this column:
- Copy and paste to the Bcc. line of your e-mail program
- Compose your e-mail in the usual way
- Send e-mail
- USPS Address – Send letters or postcards
All 5 supervisors have the same mailing address:
301 W. Jefferson, 10th Floor
Phoenix, AZ 85003
Please take action today, while all this is still fresh on your mind. If you wait until tomorrow you may forget.