Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs took to social media to push Arizona House and Senate leadership for legislation that would authorize counties to shift elections to all ballot-by-mail if the need should arise.
In a letter sent to leadership, Hobbs praised election officials for conducting an election under a public health emergency. She says that while they performed their job admirably, it would be “unreasonable to ask these officials to once again overcome these circumstances, should they still exist or are exacerbated, for the August and November Elections.”
Her office argues that Arizona law allows for municipal election (elections where no state or federal candidate is on the ballot) which can already be conducted as all ballot by mail. Indeed, in Maricopa County’s November 2019 election, in which school districts in the Valley asked voters for bonds and budget overrides, the vote was done 100 percent through the mail.
The ballot by mail proposal has bipartisan support, at least among elected officials. Leslie Hoffman, Republican and longtime recorder for Yavapai County, supports Secretary Hobbs’s request. Particularly, she supports the language in the proposal that gives the decision to the individual counties.
“We know our voters.” said Hoffman. “The language I saw is that the counties may do an all-mail election, so those counties that have special needs or different circumstances, like say the reservation, they may do a hybrid type system.”
Apache and Navajo counties, both situated in northern Arizona, have large portions of their total area taken up by the Navajo Nation.
Many residents of the nation rely on mail delivery to chapter houses and other locations away from their physical residents. Any all ballot by mail legislation in Arizona, would need to make special accommodations for them, as well as other tribal communities.
A spokesperson for the House Democrats said that the caucus also supports the authorization for ballot by mail elections and will push house Republicans to include it in the package of bills being considered that would continue to fund the state government should the session remain suspended passed the fiscal year. He said that if Republicans fail to include the measure, Democrats will offer it, as well as a host of COVID-19 related support legislation, as budget amendments.
Arizona’s elections are already heavily tilted towards ballot-by mail, with over 80 percent of registered voters being on the state’s Permanent Early Voter List. Tuesday’s Democratic Presidential Preference election saw over 475,000 ballots cast through the mail, which is around 80 percent of the approximately 600,000 ballots that are expected to be tallied by the counties when counting is done sometime later this week.