Every Arizona election worker follows a book of rules called the Elections Procedures Manual.
The Secretary of State is in the process of updating it ahead of the 2024 election cycle. The first draft that was released triggered an avalanche of public input.
There were more than 15 comments, ranging from Republican legislative leaders threatening to sue Secretary of State Adrian Fontes if he oversteps his authority, to voting rights groups saying the Secretary of State’s Office needs to do more.
“I think it’s a natural spot to be in,” said Arizona Clean Elections Commission executive director Tom Collins.
Collins says the manual is written to comply with existing state law and not intended to change it, ‘If your viewpoint is this mantra, we need a single day of voting and we need to hand count those ballots on that day, etc., etc. That’s an argument to make to the legislature.”
There are differing interpretations of the law.
For instance, Republican lawmakers say county recorders can start removing voters who have not voted in two successive election cycles by January 2025; the manual says January 2027.
“This manual, probably every page of it, will get litigated,” Collins said. “In one way or another, we live in a state where elections are very close, the margins are very narrow, and elections are ultimately a zero-sum game.”
The Secretary of State’s Office says it is in the process of reviewing the public comments.
A spokesman says there will be changes made from the first draft.
The final version of the Elections Procedures Manual needs to be submitted to the Governor and the Attorney General by October 1st.