Secretary of State Katie Hobbs on Friday will release a draft of her office’s proposed election procedures manual for the 2020 election, which would be the first new manual to go into effect in more than five years.
By law, secretaries of state are required to release a new manual every two years. But that never happened under Hobbs’s predecessor, Michele Reagan.
Reagan simply declined to issue a new manual for the 2016 election cycle, choosing instead to focus her administration’s energies on the four statewide elections schedule for that year. The Secretary of State’s Office drafted a new manual for the 2018 cycle, but Gov. Doug Ducey and Attorney General Mark Brnovich refused to sign off on it, as is required by law for it to go into effect.
Ducey’s decision came in response to criticism from county recorders, who objected to what they said was a substantial rewrite of a manual that usually sees only relatively minor changes from each election to the next, and said the process was too rushed. The recorders asked that he not approve the new manual.
During the last legislative session, lawmakers and Ducey approved a new law requiring the secretary of state issue the new manual by Dec. 31 in odd-numbered years. It must be submitted to the governor and attorney general by Oct. 1. Prior to the passage of House Bill 2238, secretaries of state had to issue the new manual at least 30 days before each election.
The election procedures manual essentially fills in the gaps of Arizona’s election laws. It provides guidance to county officials on how to conduct elections and carry out election-related statutes. Once approved, it has the force of law.
Hobbs will release the draft for public comment on Friday, and will hold public hearings on the document on Aug. 27 and Sept. 4 at the Historic Supreme Court chambers at the Capitol.