On Monday, November 16, a group of 15 republican legislators, led by Bret Roberts, representative LD11, sent a letter to the Maricopa Board of Supervisors requesting a hand count of the votes cast in person on election day. The reason for the request is that, under ARS 16-602, the county is required to conduct a hand count of 2% of the precincts or 2 precincts, whichever results in the higher number. In other words, what the 15 republican legislators requested is that the law be followed.
That should be a clear, straight forward, non-controversial request.
What is not clear is why some republican leaders, including House Speaker Bowers, have shown disapproval, and downright hostility, toward the 15 members who dared to request that the law be followed.
It should be noted as background information that the current instructions and procedures manual is in conflict with current statutes. This cannot happen. Procedures manuals cannot lawfully supersede the law.
Part of the problem is that in 2011, the legislature passed, and the governor signed, HB2303. This bill amended ARS 16-411 by adding language that allowed counties to create voting centers in addition to, or as replacements for, the traditional voting sites according to precincts. This was done without making the proper changes to ARS 16-602.
The long-term solution is that the legislature needs to take one or more of the following actions.
- Require that the Secretary of State modify the Elections Procedures Manual
- Require that ballots be identified according to the precincts of the voters, regardless of where the votes are cast.
- Amend ARS 16-602 to take into account that voters can cast ballots outside of their precincts.
- Do away with voting at voting centers and go back to voting only by precinct.
These are actions that may prevent problems in the future but can do nothing about the current situation. Therefore, at this time, everyone, regardless of party affiliation, should support Rep. Roberts and the other legislators in their quest to ensure that current law is obeyed.
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