Dispute between Katie Hobbs and Mark Brnovich over candidate-signing system escalates with threats, lawsuit

By Mary Jo Pitzl | Arizona Republic

Secretary of State Katie Hobbs is suing Attorney General Mark Brnovich to stop him from threatening her with criminal charges for planning to take offline a system that allows voters to electronically sign candidate petitions.

Hobbs is seeking both a preliminary and permanent injunction in Maricopa County Superior Court. However, in a letter Tuesday to Brnovich, Hobbs offered to withdraw her complaint if the attorney general retracts these threats by Wednesday.

The dispute centers around the E-QUAL system, which Hobbs said needs to be shut down in early March to allow county recorders time to import updated voter registration data that aligns voters with the new legislative and congressional districts created by the Independent Redistricting Commission.

The planned March 5 shutdown comes a month before the April 4 deadline for candidates to file their nominating petitions.

How to sign candidate petitions:Arizona’s online petition system for candidates has become a political target. Here’s what to know

Days after the secretary of state informed candidates about the temporary shutdown, Brnovich demanded that Hobbs “fix the system” and said he would take civil and possibly criminal action if she did not do so.

Brnovich, a Republican, is seeking a U.S. Senate seat. Hobbs, a Democrat, is running for governor. However, the lawsuit involves the two in regards to their current state offices.

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