Elections have consequences, so we are told. For the sake of sanity and the restoration of absolute faith in our election outcomes let us hope that one of the results from the latest round of elections will be necessary changes to our current vote-counting system. A process that takes over a week to complete, in some cases resulting in races that were called already to change, creates not only confusion but cries of fraud and corruption, especially from the losing party who already thought they had won.
Arizona is not alone in its desperate need to modernize and streamline its election system — just look at what is going on in Florida. Bill Beard’s recent column in this very paper laid out the need to “establish clear guidelines for handling and processing early ballots, restore the system of separation of powers in the counties, establish clear guidelines for when, where and how Emergency Voting Centers operate, and provide finality to the process.”
Why is it not possible to have all votes counted in a timely manner after election night is over? Specifically, regarding early ballots dropped off at polling stations on Election Day, why not have those doing so provide a photo ID card, rather than trying to match up signatures later?
Add to that things like the controversy over “curing” of early ballots. A process in which ballots where the signature didn’t match, resulted in those people being physically contacted to see if indeed it was their ballot. Before a court ruling ordering rural counties to do this, only the Democrat County Recorders in Maricopa and Pima County were doing this.
There were reports of other irregularities regarding the strategic stationing of early voting stations in areas with higher Democrat populations in the Maricopa Country area, and charges of potential ballot harvesting in Pima County made by Congresswoman Martha McSally at an event I attended Saturday, Nov. 10. Anecdotal stories abound, and clearly irregularities and inefficiency, coupled with some incompetence, exists in the current process. Does that mean actual mass voter fraud took place? Probably not.
However, no one can say they have great confidence in a vote-counting system that has no uniformity across counties and drags on for nearly two weeks after election night. The Secretary of State race was called by the Associated Press for Republican Steve Gaynor, yet, after over a week of counting votes, his Democrat rival Katie Hobbs overtook him. That hardly inspires faith in our election process.
People may try and explain that the counting has always gone on like this. Yes, but why weren’t close elections such as these planned for? This is just the kind of thing that the state legislator is supposed to be dealing with; they are supposed to be making sure we can all have confidence in our election process.
One of the biggest reasons why Republicans at the state level have been quiet about all of this is because they know that to discuss it would be to admit their failure to lead. The GOP has held the levers of power at the Capitol for a long while, and they have done nothing to address our election problems. In fact, the current Secretary of State Michelle Reagan is about to be out of a job because of her incompetence at the position. Some of that ill-will toward her may have brought about Gaynor’s defeat in the general election after he had soundly trounced her in the GOP primary.
The votes are in. Let us hope the new political leaders will do something so that we can have more faith in our final outcomes the next election cycle.