The Board of Supervisors directed the county manager to form a working group that may lead to substantial changes in the way elections are run in the fourth most populous county in the country.
The 2018 Primary and General Elections saw massive turnout and the volume of voters once again shined a light on the need to continually study these complicated processes that require large amounts of planning and temporary staff. There were some polling and ballot counting issues in both elections but by working together, the Board believes these can be solved. Maricopa County has the fastest growing population in the country and the high level of voter engagement requires 21st century solutions in the form of technology and human capital.
“We have directed our county manager to form a working group that can make recommendations regarding structure, staffing and technology,” said Chairman Bill Gates, Supervisor, District 3. “We want them to look at how we have divided our responsibilities with the Recorder’s Office in the past and what that structure looks like moving forward.”
The Board of Supervisors assigned responsibility for election day activities to the Recorder’s Office in 1955 and has operated under that agreement ever since. It is one of three counties in Arizona with this structure.
“This is not just about the next election. This is about how we run elections long-term, so we have the right technology, the right resources, and the right people in place to be best in class,” said Supervisor Steve Gallardo District 5. “This working group is just a first step, but it sends a message to voters and to those at the Legislature that we are actively working on solutions that improve outcomes.”
The Board expects the working group to recommend structural changes within 60 days after organizing. It will also explore personnel needs and technology options that make it easier for people to vote and generate faster election results.
“Today’s vote comes after many months of discussion about how the Maricopa County Elections Department can best serve the voters of our community,” said Recorder Adrian Fontes. “In conjunction with the Board of Supervisors and the leadership of Chairman Gates, I look forward to a top-to-bottom review of the needs of the department, including a state-of-the-art tabulation system to better process ballots. Only through a complete assessment of all options for administration of elections, and well formulated recommendations by the committee, will Maricopa County pave the way for the future of this vital function of government.”
The Arizona Presidential Preference Election takes place on March 17, 2020 with the General Election on November 3, 2020. Reports from the working group will be provided to the public on Maricopa.gov.