PHOENIX (AP) – Millions of dollars in federal pandemic relief funds will go toward bolstering the operation of Arizona elections, Gov. Katie Hobbs announced at the end of October.
The Democratic governor said around $2.3 million from the American Rescue Plan Act will be earmarked to “support free, fair and secure elections.”
Half of the money will pay for a state elections fellowship program, temporary support staff and consultants with election expertise across various counties. Counties that have had significant worker turnover will be the priority. The rest will go to a voter registration database and administration initiatives for the 2024 general election.
Hobbs also issued three election-related executive orders including paid “civic duty leave” for state employees serving as poll workers.
The other executive actions will make state buildings available as polling sites and mandate state agencies to offer voter registration information and assistance.
Hobbs is acting on recommendations from a review by a bipartisan task force she established in January. The task force formed after a particularly contentious 2022 midterm election where two Republican-leaning counties dragged their feet or initially refused to certify results. Officials at the time said they were doing it to protest voting issues in Maricopa County. Some GOP officials blamed the state’s most populous county for losses in top races including for governor and the U.S. Senate.
The task force was made up of state election and security experts, voting rights advocates, lawmakers and current and former election officials.
They made 16 policy recommendations in total. Improving poll worker recruitment, improving voter registration across counties, ballot return interference and an election worker code of conduct were among the issues addressed.