/ Modified feb 8, 2024 9:05 a.m.

AZ GOP frustrated over new election bill

If the bill passes and is signed into law, it would solve an election calendar issue that could happen if a recount is needed for the primary election.

360 cap dome 2021 A view of the dome atop the Arizona Capitol Museum at the State Capitol in Phoenix. January 2021.
AZPM Staff

Arizona House Republicans were frustrated during Wednesday afternoon’s House Republican Caucus meeting after a new bill designed to solve the state’s election calendar issues was introduced on short notice.

Republican Representative Matt Gress told his peers he thought the bill excluded many solutions that his constituents were looking for to solve issues like late early ballot drop-offs.

“I feel like this measure misses the mark in so many ways,” Gress said. “I'm deeply concerned about the bill and at this time, I certainly cannot support it.”

Republican Representative Alex Kolodin, who introduced the bill, said this was the best they were going to get following negotiations.

“We have constantly said if we can't get everything that we want, we will take none of it,” Kolodin said. “For me, the gains in this bill are real. They're significant. They may be the only thing that we can take to our voters and say, ‘This is how we have improved the process before 2024.’”

Other Republicans like Representative Justin Heap said that “politics is the art of the possible and [they] are stuck with what [they] can get done.”

“Does this bill give us everything that we want? No, it does not,” Heap said. “But it is a substantial group for it and this is what we can get done now this session that will have an impact on the election.”

House Democrats did not publicly talk about the bill during this caucus Wednesday afternoon.

The Arizona Association of Counties is urging legislators to support the bills in question.

“This important legislation is the product of months of negotiation between county leaders, state policymakers, and other stakeholders,” AACo Executive Director Jen Marson said. “It will ensure county officials have the time necessary to conduct any mandatory recounts while protecting voters and complying with state and federal law.”

If the election calendar is not fixed, military voters overseas might not be able to return their ballots on time for the general election should a recount be needed for the primary. This would cause the state to miss key federal deadlines. Some of the solutions in the bill include moving up the primary as well as prohibiting County Supervisors from postponing election canvasses.

A two-thirds vote is needed on the measure for it to go into effect right away. The bill could pass as early as Thursday.

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