For Mohave County Elections Director Allen Tempert, “voting centers” could be a positive next step for the county’s election process. But as the Arizona Senate conducts an audit of more than 2.1 million ballots from similar voting centers in Maricopa County, Tempert’s proposal will have to wait.
The Mohave County Board of Supervisors was scheduled on Monday to discuss the possibility of transitioning county elections from the traditional precinct model to a voting center model, which would allow residents in each of the county’s major cities to vote in elections without having to do so in their respective home precincts. That discussion was tabled until the board’s next meeting on May 3, pending the results of the Arizona Senate’s audit.
“I’ve been asked by our state representatives to table this discussion until after the audit,” said Mohave County Supervisor Hildy Angius. “It stands to reason that if since we’re putting out to buy new equipment … we’ve been asked to do this as a courtesy.”
The new voting centers would require a $425,000 for on-demand ballot devices, which would be paid through a combination of federal grant funding and the Elections Department’s existing equipment replacement budget. According to Tempert, the new devices would be able to replicate and accept ballot styles used by any of the county’s 24 voting precincts.
Tempert says it’s a proactive step before the county’s next elections, and one that could strengthen voter confidence among residents. But time could be of the essence, and state grant funding will only be available until June 30.
“There is a timeline as far as the money is involved,” Tempert said. “We have two funds that came from the federal Help America Vote Act, given by the state. But about $159,000 has to be used by June 30. It’s not only the right thing to do and the right way to go, but I want to be proactive.”
Tempert says the new system of voting could be implemented in Mohave County in time for the 2022 elections, if approved by the board of supervisors.
But the timeline of June 30 could prove problematic, according to Gould, because it is also the deadline for the Arizona Senate to reach its decision in its audit of the 2020 election, prior to the end of its regular session.
Gould, however, was not in favor of the new voting system on its own merit as of Monday’s meeting.
“I ran the bill that created voting centers in my judiciary committee, when I was a state Senator,” Gould said. “It seemed like a good deal at the time. But at this point I’m not comfortable with it, and I don’t think it’s actually necessary in our county.”
Mohave County Supervisor Travis Lingenfelter withheld his opinion on the matter at Monday’s meeting.
“I want to be supportive of our state delegation,” Lingenfelter said. “Vote integrity is one of the paramount issues in this county. It’s important that we see what happens with that audit.”
The audit began on Monday, and according to public statements by Arizona Senate President Karen Fann last week, will proceed at the Arizona State Fair Grounds in Phoenix until May 14.