Election Crisis Averted in Arizona with Clean Fix to Ballot Recount Issue

HB2785 will allow Arizona to meet all election deadline

PHOENIX — Arizona lawmakers have just reached a resolution on a clean fix to the ballot recount issue after months of tense negotiations. The fix, HB2785, corrects a massive problem caused by prior legislation by allowing adequate time for election officials to tally votes after elections conclude.

The ballot recount issue initially caused conflict as the Ducey administration’s move to lower the threshold to trigger automatic recounts overlapped with Congress’ Electoral Count Reform Act, which changed important election deadlines for states. This resulted in Arizona election officials needing an additional 19 days to comply with national deadlines. Had a solution not been found, it would have made it nearly impossible for counties to complete counting votes in time if the results were close enough to trigger a recount.

Election officials warned lawmakers that they had until February 9 to pass a solution. Earlier this week, Common Cause Arizona joined other democracy advocates in calling for a clean fix that would get at the heart of the timeline and voter protection issues, without the issue being used as a vehicle for partisan gamesmanship or additional, unneeded measures.

The legislature ultimately agreed on Thursday to give counties more time to meet deadlines after agreeing to move the state primary to July 30. The deal also reduces the time allotted for certain processes and allows election officials to run the tabulation and hand count recounts concurrently. Among wins for voters, HB2785 requires counties to submit daily reports of outstanding ballots that require curing, meaning that voters who need to cure their ballots will have more time to confirm that their votes are counted. Emergency voting will also be expanded to accommodate for any confusion voters may have.

“Arizonans’ voting rights are not up for grabs,” said Jenny Guzman, program director of Common Cause Arizona. “What matters most is that voters will be able to safely cast their ballots, and they can trust that their vote will be counted. We applaud the legislature and Governor Hobbs for working overtime to find a solution. While a massive crisis for our state democracy was narrowly avoided, we must continue working to protect our elections from the conspiracy theories and partisan infighting that caused this situation in the first place.”