FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 31, 2024
President Petersen Initiates Legal Action Against Secretary of State for Attempts to Disenfranchise Voters, Create New Election Laws through
Elections Procedures Manual
PHOENIX, ARIZONA— Senate President Warren Petersen is delivering on a promise to initiate legal action against Secretary of State Adrian Fontes for attempts to disenfranchise voters and subvert state election laws within the latest edition of the Elections Procedures Manual (EPM).
"Both the Secretary and our Governor have a track record of not following the law. As a result, I'm taking action to protect the integrity of our elections," said President Petersen. "This reckless EPM opens the door to unlawful activity and undermines the voter confidence measures Republican lawmakers have implemented over the years."
House Speaker Ben Toma joined President Petersen in filing a lawsuit today in the Maricopa County Superior Court, requesting the court throw out a number of provisions in the EPM, which violate or conflict with current Arizona election laws.
The EPM serves as a rulebook for how county officials must administer elections in accordance with state law. After a shortened public comment period on an updated EPM draft last year, Governor Katie Hobbs and Attorney General Kris Mayes released a final draft of the EPM in late December, with an additional 17 pages of content never before seen by the public. The end result is a manual that permits election practices that violate statute in at least five areas:
Active Early Voter List Effective Date- One of the most notable errors is an unlawful attempt to delay the implementation of a 2021 state law until 2027. This law helps prevent voter fraud by requiring county recorders to remove any voters from the active early voter list who have not cast an early ballot during two consecutive election cycles and have not responded to notification from the recorder that they wish to continue their participation on that list.
Non-Residency on Juror Questionnaire- Arizona law requires cancellation of a voter registration if a citizen swears on a juror questionnaire that they are no longer an Arizona resident and later fails to confirm they are a resident. The EPM disregards this law, allowing people who admit they are not residents to still vote in our elections.
Investigations of Citizenship Status- Arizona law requires a county recorder to take steps to investigate individuals on voter rolls who are reasonably suspected of being non-U.S. citizens. The EPM rewrites the statute, requiring county recorders to disregard information from third parties—even when they are from credible sources such as law enforcement—weakening protections in state law aimed to prevent non-U.S. citizens from voting in our elections.
Validity of Circulator Registrations- To ensure integrity and transparency in signature gathering for proposed ballot measures, Arizona law requires circulators to provide basic, and correct, contact information used to reach out to the circulator in the event questionable signatures are submitted. The EPM eliminates legislatively mandated strict compliance with this requirement, contrary to the law.
County Canvass- The EPM allows the Secretary of State to throw out the votes of an entire county if its board of supervisors does not rubberstamp a canvass. However, Arizona law does not require boards to vote a certain way. If a board improperly fails to certify election results, the proper solution is to turn to the courts for help, not disenfranchise all voters within an entire county.
For more information, contact:
Director of Communications | Arizona State Senate Republican Caucus