The Arizona Attorney General’s Office (AGO) argued in Yavapai Superior Court last week in an attempt to ensure Arizona has a lawful elections procedures manual (EPM) for the upcoming 2022 elections.
“Regardless of individual politics or party, everyone should understand the importance of maintaining public confidence in our elections,” Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R) said in a press release. “I brought suit to support confidence in the integrity of our elections and accuracy of the results.”
The AGO and its co-plaintiff, the Yavapai County Republican Committee, argued that Secretary of State (SOS) Katie Hobbs (D) must provide a lawful EPM draft.
According to the AGO, the 2022 EPM must include prohibiting unstaffed drop boxes, requiring signature verification for non-mailed early ballots, and preserving the requirement that voters vote in their precinct, among other requests.
The court indicated it would rule in the near future.
The elections procedures manual has the force of law, and anyone who violates it is subject to criminal penalties. Hobbs was required to submit a lawful manual to Brnovich and Gov. Doug Ducey (R) by October 1, 2021. Brnovich alleges her submission was not lawful.
According to a separate press release from the the attorney general’s office, the Arizona Supreme Court holds that any provisions beyond the SOS’s authority cannot be included or enforced in the EPM. Ducey and Brnovich rejected Hobbs’s manual for unlawful and unenforceable provisions.
Brnovich submitted a supplemental brief, which outlines all of the provisions that have issues, one of which pertains to ballot drop boxes.
“Contrary to the plain language of A.R.S. § 16-1005(E) (making it a class 5 felony for ‘a person or entity’ to serve ‘as a ballot drop offsite, other than those established and staffed by election officials’ (emphasis added)), the Draft 2021 EPM permits counties to establish unstaffed drop boxes,” according to the brief.
In April, Brnovich sued Hobbs to compel her to submit a lawful EPM for the 2022 election.
“Providing a set of rules that is consistent with Arizona law for every county to utilize in the 2022 Statewide Elections is not a suggestion, it is a requirement for the Secretary of State,” Brnovich said in a previous press release. “By now everyone should understand the imperative of maintaining lawful and accurate elections that avoid even the appearance of impropriety.”
As reported by The Arizona Sun Times, Arizona State Representative Shawnna Bolick (R-Phoenix) found an unmonitored ballot drop box in Yavapai County in May despite being illegal in Arizona.
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Neil Jones is a reporter for The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Neil on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Mark Brnovich” by Mark Brnovich. Background Photo “Courtroom” by Carol M. Highsmith.