ARIZONA NEWS

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs takes action to address Bipartisan Elections Task Force concerns

Nov 2, 2023, 2:00 PM

A Maricopa County election worker moves a stack of scanned ballots on Nov. 10, 2022, in Phoenix, Ar...

A Maricopa County election worker moves a stack of scanned ballots on Nov. 10, 2022, in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

PHOENIX – Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs on Thursday allocated $2.3 million in federal funding and issued three executive orders to address concerns about the state’s elections.

The moves come after the Bipartisan Elections Task Force created by Hobbs held its final meeting last week and issued a final report Wednesday.

The funding, which comes from the American Rescue Plan, is split into three chunks: $1 million for a paid election worker internship program for recent college graduates plus additional staffing and consulting support for counties, $700,000 to maintain the statewide Access Voter Information Database and $600,000 for several 2024 election administration initiatives.

The administrative initiatives include election security, ballot reconciliation best practices, support for voters with disabilities and poll worker recruitment.

The executive orders direct the use of state agency resources to ensure adequate facilities and staffing during next year’s election, including giving state employees paid leave to serving as poll workers, and to promote voter registration.

“The work of the task force, the governor’s executive orders and the much needed $2 million in election support will be critical in building towards smooth and successful elections in 2024,” Secretary of State Adrian Fontes, a member of the task force, said in a press release.

Why did Gov. Katie Hobbs allocate funding, issue executive orders for elections?

All Wednesday’s actions were in response to concerns raised by the Bipartisan Elections Task Force, which was chaired by Hobbs and former Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell, a Republican.

“Election officials and voters are facing new challenges when it comes to administering elections and participating in our democracy,” the Democratic governor said in the release. “I am thrilled to immediately address some of the problems identified by the Bipartisan Elections Task Force to ensure Arizona voters can make their voices heard.”

The task force was formed after a particularly contentious 2022 midterm election where two Republican-leaning counties dragged their feet or initially refused to certify results. Officials at the time said they were doing it to protest voting issues in Maricopa County. Some GOP officials blamed the state’s most populous county for losses in top races, including for governor and the U.S. Senate.

The task force was made up of state election and security experts, voting rights advocates, lawmakers and current and former election officials.

They made 16 policy recommendations in total. Improving poll worker recruitment, improving voter registration across counties, ballot return interference and an election worker code of conduct were among the issues addressed

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs takes action to address Bipartisan Elections Task Force concerns