Arizona lawmakers race to fix election timeline, but parties remain at odds

Feb 6, 2024, 11:00 AM

Arizona state Rep. Laura Terech speaks during a Feb. 5, 2024, press conference in Phoenix about Dem...

Arizona state Rep. Laura Terech speaks during a Feb. 5, 2024, press conference in Phoenix about Democrats' plan to fix the state's election timeline. (Matty Steinkamp Photo via Progress Arizona)

(Matty Steinkamp Photo via Progress Arizona)

PHOENIX – Arizona lawmakers from both parties agree that the state’s election timeline needs to be fixed, but time is running out for Republicans and Democrats to agree on a solution.

The issue stems from a 2022 law signed by former Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, that increased the threshold to trigger automatic recounts.

The concern is that the law will require more races to go through recounts, which could cause state officials to miss federally mandated deadlines for mailing general election ballots to military members and for the certification of the Arizona’s presidential electors.

County election officials from across Arizona notified state leaders about the issue in September 2023.

“It’s time for everyone to get serious and pass a signable solution that is a win for Arizona voters,” Jen Marson, executive director of the Arizona Association of Counties, said in a Feb. 1 statement.

When do Arizona lawmakers have to fix the election timeline?

Democratic state Rep. Laura Terech told KTAR News 92.3 FM that the Legislature must take action by Friday.

“We’re running out of time,” she said after a press event Monday. “We need to find 19 extra days so that they can meet these deadlines under the new recount law.”

Terech said Democrats were crafting legislation that changes the timeline “a little bit here, a little bit here.” Details of the bill were expected to be made available Tuesday.

“We are working on this bill up until the very last minute to ensure we have the strongest possible bill that will gain, I hope, bipartisan support. And the most important thing about it is that it’s a clean fix,” she said.

What are Republican legislators proposing?

Meanwhile, Republicans, who control both chambers of the Legislature, introduced companion bills Monday, HB 2785 and SB 1733, that move the 2024 primary date up a week from Aug. 6 to July 30 and make other changes to ensure that deadlines are met.

“There were many simpler ways to solve this problem, some of which do not require legislative solutions,” Rep. Alexander Kolodin said in a press release Monday. “Nevertheless, we negotiated in good faith and agreed to accept this more complicated solution in exchange for signature verification and several other commonsense reforms.”

As Kolodin notes, the GOP plan includes election policy proposals that aren’t directly related to fixing the timeline problem. Those elements met immediate opposition from Democrats, notably Gov. Katie Hobbs.

“I have shown time and time again that I am willing to compromise, but I will not sign a bill that’s filled with harmful unrelated legislation or that hurts voters’ right to have their voice heard at the ballot box,” Hobbs said in a statement.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Colton Krolak contributed to this report.

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Arizona lawmakers race to fix election timeline, but parties remain at odds