Senator’s Bill Targets Elections Manual, Unsigned Ballots

Senator Michelle Ugenti-Rita has introduced a bill, SB 1014, that will require the Elections Procedures Manual to be approved by the Governor’s Regulatory Review Council rather than being approved by the Governor and Attorney General.

Ugenti-Rita argues that the new process “will provide a better forum to allow public input in the administration of elections.”

Secretary of State Katie Hobbs submitted a draft of the manual to Gov. Doug Ducey and Attorney General Mark Brnovich in October. The law requires them to approve or reject the manual by December 31. Although the manual is supposed to be completed in time for local elections officials to use it as guidance in the 2020 elections, the draft has been soundly criticized.

Ugenti-Rita is also crafting legislation to prohibit the curing of mail-in ballots that are received by county election officials without the required signature on the early ballot affidavit. According to Ugenti-Rita, her planned legislation will codify the long standing and current practice of not accepting ballots that are unsigned.

Hobb’s draft manual cites a new law, sponsored by Ugenti-Rita, that requires all Arizona counties to provide a five-day period to “cure” early ballots returned with signatures that insufficiently match signatures in the state’s voter registration database.

However, Ugenti-Rita disputes that interpretation. “It has been brought to my attention, after the recent passage of several election law reforms, that the manual goes beyond maintaining the maximum correctness and uniformity of elections. For example, last year legislation was unanimously passed to provide consistency among the counties on the method to cure inconsistent signatures on early ballots. However, Secretary Hobbs has included, in the manual, missing signatures as a form of inconsistent signature, when the law does not. Further, the early ballot envelope includes a disclaimer that missing signatures will not be
counted.”

The Attorney General’s Office seems to agree. According to KJZZ, “In notes provided to the Secretary of State’s Office on Nov. 12, Assistant Attorney General Evan Daniels wrote that state law requires voters to sign their ballot in order for the ballot to be counted.”

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