County recorder, lawmakers tackle election reforms 

Recorder Stephen Richer (center) || Maricopa County

By Shane Brennan  || Arizona Capitol Times

Following multiple razor-thin election results in Arizona, proposals from Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer offer solutions to potentially expedite the vote-counting process. Now, the county must work out the details with the Legislature.

Richer, a Republican, released a proposal on Jan. 12, consisting of 28 pages of how he says statewide elections can be improved. Richer said elections are secure in Arizona, and he wants to constantly improve the process statewide.

“We put out a packet of I think about 16 ideas that we think help frame the conversation, or at least give some facts and an understanding of how things work on the ground that might help our state legislators as they think about this, and I’m hopeful that some of those can make it across the finish line,” Richer said.

One of the main concerns the proposal addresses is the speed of vote counting in Arizona. Richer’s proposal attributes the slow pace of vote counting to the large number of early voting ballots that were dropped off on Election Day.

According to data in the proposal, 290,735 early voting ballots were dropped off on Election Day in November 2022, an increase of more than 118,000 from the 2020 election.

Richer said this spike resulted in delayed election results because early votes are not tabulated onsite. Instead, they are sent to county elections headquarters to be verified, audited and processed before they are finally tabulated.

Richer said he looks to states, including Florida and Michigan’s earlier deadlines for early voting as examples of what he envisions.

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February 2023