Bill blocking outside money in election process sent to the governor

By Andrew Oxford | Arizona Republic

Just before the presidential preference election a little over a year ago, Coconino County Recorder Patty Hansen had a problem. About a quarter of her poll workers had canceled.

It was the start of the pandemic, after all. And it made clear that 2020 would be a very unusual election year.

So, the county hired more temporary staff. With more interest in voting by mail due to the pandemic but concerns about slow delivery, Hansen’s office bought more drop boxes to set up everywhere from Sedona to Williams and Page. And the county staffed drive-thru voting and drop-off locations.

Hansen paid for these new expenses with a grant from the Center for Technology and Civic Life, a private non-profit that gave over $5 million to help nine Arizona counties — some run by Democrats, some run by Republicans — to administer last year’s election.

“We could not have done all of this without that money,” said Hansen, a Democrat first elected in 2012.

While the county had not received grants to pay for elections in the past, the choice was easy for its recorder: There were no strings attached and it saved the taxpayers money, she said.

But the Arizona Senate voted along party lines Wednesday to ban such grants as Republican lawmakers have raised concerns about allowing private organizations to fund part of the voting process.

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