Election-related initiative in Arizona certified for the ballot

Welcome to the Friday, August 26, Brew. 

By: Samuel Wonacott

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Initiative to change election and voting policies certified for Arizona ballot
  2. Delaware auditor faces primary challenger following misdemeanor convictions
  3. #FridayTrivia: What state will be the first to begin early voting this year?

Initiative to change election and voting policies certified for Arizona ballot

In June, we debuted our Election Administration Legislation Tracker, a powerful resource to help you quickly and easily track election-related legislation in all 50 states. We’ve tracked 247 enacted election-related bills this year. In total, legislators have introduced 1,713 bills. 

The Arizona secretary of state’s office announced on Aug. 24 that the Arizona Election and Voting Policies Initiative qualified for the ballot.  

Among other things, the initiative would:

  • Make changes to early voting policy, including automatically sending an early ballot to any voter on the early voting list
  • Repeal provisions that would remove voters from the early voting list if they do not vote using an early ballot in all eligible elections for two consecutive election cycles and do not reply to a notice from election officials. 
  • Repeal the existing law that makes it a felony to collect another person’s ballot and instead make it a felony to collect a ballot and intentionally fail to deliver it). 
  • Establish same-day voter registration, authorize the funding of dropboxes, and change campaign contribution limits.
  • Provide that people with disabilities can vote with or without assistance.
  • Provide that a court order placing a person under guardianship cannot inhibit that person’s ability to vote
  • Require election officials to communicate with tribes or tribal representatives regarding the conduct of elections.

In order to qualify for the ballot, petitioners needed to collect at least 237,645 valid signatures. Signatures were verified through a random sampling process. On July 7, the Arizonans for Free and Fair Elections campaign submitted 475,290 signatures to the secretary of state.

If approved, Arizona would become the 21st state to enact automatic voter registration policies. Anyone qualified to register to vote would be registered or have their registration updated when they apply for a driver’s license or report a change of name or address to the department of transportation unless they opted out of registration.

The proposal is the second citizen-initiated measure certified for the ballot in Arizona. Twenty-one states allow for citizens to initiate state statutes. 

Currently, there are nine other measures on the ballot in Arizona. There are five election or campaign-related measures certified for the ballot in 2022, including the Nevada Top-Five Ranked Choice Voting Initiative and the Alabama Amendment 4, Prohibit Changes to Election Conduct Laws within Six Months of General Elections Amendment. Click here for a full list. 

Click below to read more about Arizona’s Election and Voting Policies Initiative. 

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Delaware auditor faces primary challenger following misdemeanor convictions 

Incumbent Kathy McGuiness and Lydia York are running in the Democratic primary for Delaware state auditor on Sept. 6. 

Delaware is a Democratic trifecta, meaning Democrats control the governor’s office, the state Senate, and the state House. 

McGuiness was elected to the office in 2018. Before becoming state auditor, she served five terms on the Rehoboth Beach City Commission and worked as a pharmacist. McGuiness is running on her record as auditor. Her campaign website said, “Under Kathy’s leadership, the Auditor’s Office has become a nationwide leader in innovation and efficiency. McGuiness has created a new mobile app for Delaware taxpayers to report fraud, waste and abuse, and also created an interactive CARES Act Fund Tracker portal.”

McGuiness was convicted on three misdemeanor charges in July—conflict of interest, structuring, and official misconduct. The charges stemmed from McGuiness hiring her daughter to work in the auditor’s office as other employees’ hours were cut during the COVID-19 pandemic. Following the conviction, leaders in both chambers of the legislature called on McGuiness to resign. This was the first time an incumbent statewide elected official in Delaware had been convicted of a crime. McGuiness faces up to one year in prison for each misdemeanor count. 

McGuiness said the charges were politically motivated and that it was not illegal to hire a family member. Her attorney said they would appeal the case to the Delaware Supreme Court. “I have a great team so I look forward to working again with them to rectify the situation,” McGuiness said.

York’s professional experience includes working as an accountant with PriceWaterhouseCoopers (then Coopers & Lybrand) and as a tax attorney. York said she filed to run because of the charges against McGuiness. “[R]egardless of your views on the trial and the outcome and all of that all a lot of witnesses testified to a work environment that was described across the board as toxic and it would be one of my primary missions frankly is to make that stop so people can do their work,” she said.

The Democratic Party of Delaware endorsed York in July. Chairwoman Betsy Maron said, “We saw Ms.York’s candidacy as an opportunity to restore the Auditor’s office to its intended function and do away with the political theater that has kept the incumbent at center stage for all the wrong reasons. Her legal, business, and finance backgrounds make Lydia York an immensely qualified Auditor who we are confident will do right by all Delawareans.”

The auditor’s office is to serves “Delawareans by providing independent objective oversight of the state government’s use of taxpayer dollars with the goal of deterring fraud, waste and abuse through unbiased assessments, including the use of various audits, special reports, and investigations of financial operations designed to ensure statutory compliance while enhancing governmental economy, efficiency and effectiveness.”

Click below to read more about this race. 

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#FridayTrivia: What state will be the first to begin early voting this year?

In the Monday Brew, our top story was about general election early voting. Even though primary season hasn’t quite wrapped up, voters in some states are only a few weeks away from being able to head to the polls and vote in the general election (as if to underscore how quickly this year has flown by, Thanksgiving is only 89 days away!). 

So…what state will be the first to begin early voting this year? 

  1. Oklahoma
  2. Pennsylvania
  3. Arizona
  4. Alaska