Bipartisan task force continues progress toward safe and secure elections in Arizona

Jul 31, 2023, 4:25 AM

Bipartisan Elections Task Force...

The Bipartisan Elections Task Force formed by Governor Katie Hobbs had its second meeting this month, to continue working towards its goal of making elections safer and more secure. (Luke Forstner/KTAR)

(Luke Forstner/KTAR)

PHOENIX — The Bipartisan Elections Task Force formed by Governor Katie Hobbs had its second meeting this month, to continue working towards its goal of making elections safer and more secure.

Helen Purcell, the Task Force’s co-chair and former Maricopa County Recorder said she wasn’t ready to release details about what they’re working on, but that they are making progress.

“We’re trying to come up with solutions,” Purcell said. “Some of it may be legislative, some of it may be best practices.”

So far, they’ve identified some ideas to throw support behind.

“We had 22 proposals that were offered,” she explained. “We moved 20 of those forward.”

She said the proposals cover everything from certification of election officers to election security standards. These proposals will be discussed and adjusted until their expected unveiling when the Task Force meets again in October.

Working together across the aisle

Members of the Bipartisan Elections Task Force joined Purcell, including Secretary of State Adrian Fontes.

Fontes, a Democrat, faced off with Purcell, a Republican, in 2016 when he ultimately unseated her to become the Maricopa County Recorder.

“Helen and I weren’t always the best of friends, but we’ve spent a lot of time together now,” he joked. “Everybody here is working for the best results we can get.”

Fontes also defended the task force’s decision to conduct its business behind closed doors now, at the Governor’s recommendation.

“Sometimes you’ve just got to have those hard-scrabble discussions among folks when you’re talking about what might and might not get through the legislature, and why,” he explained.

“We’re not actually creating legislation at this time. We’re not actually proposing anything that’s going to go into the Elections Procedures Manual at this time. We’re working through this process.”

State Senator Ken Bennett agreed that an important part of the process is working to build proposals that will be able to cross the aisle.

“We’re working hard to find things that will be meaningful to Arizonans so they can have confidence in elections, but that can also garner bipartisan support,” he stressed. “We know we’re in a shared government, some call it ‘divided.’”

Members of the Task Force were also asked whether they thought the resulting proposals would change the minds of some who continue to question election procedures.

“We’re not always going to agree on everything, and are not going to be able to convince other people of some things,” Fontes said, “but that doesn’t mean that we don’t try. We have to try for the betterment of the State of Arizona… for better systems for our citizens.”

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Bipartisan task force continues progress toward safe and secure elections in Arizona