Why Arizona is worried about finishing the presidential election on time but other states aren’t

The state’s voting rules and new laws have created an unforgiving timeline for the 2024 presidential election. But there’s many ways to compress the schedule to make it work.

Jen Fifield 


(Votebeat is a nonprofit news organization reporting on voting access and election administration across the U.S. Sign up for our free newsletters here.)

The officials who run Arizona’s elections put out a blunt reminder last week: If lawmakers don’t soon change key dates related to the upcoming presidential election, military voters may get their ballots late, and results might not be delivered to Congress in time.

Their letters, addressed to Gov. Katie Hobbs and Senate President Warren Petersen, raise important questions: Why is Arizona the only state that appears to be facing this conundrum, and how can it be solved?

Votebeat’s review of election timelines and voting rules across multiple states shows a combination of factors in Arizona have created a long, unique, and unforgiving timeline for the upcoming election. Those factors include a new state law that basically guarantees recounts every election and a new federal law hardening a deadline for the presidential race, but also the state’s voter-friendly rules for mail ballots and a long timeframe for counting ballots.

Other states have a shorter mail ballot timeframe, faster counting laws, quicker certification dates, less risk of recounts — or a combination of the above — which allow them to get everything done faster, according to Votebeat’s review.

A spokesperson for the Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth said even with the state’s quicker counting laws and fewer recounts, deadlines are still tight. “We are lucky we are not a swing state,” communications director Debra O’Malley said.

There are potential remedies in Arizona, and the governor may soon call a special session that would fast-track solutions. But it is proving tricky to get Republican lawmakers and county officials aligned. And they must propose changes that won’t be vetoed by Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs.


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January 2024