Arizona House Passes Bill Requiring Secretary of State to Recuse Themself From Overseeing Elections

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Tuesday, Feb. 21, the Republican-controlled Arizona House of Representatives passed House Bill 2308, which would require the secretary of state to recuse themself from overseeing elections in which they are a candidate. For example, if this bill was in place during the 2022 midterm elections, then-Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) would have had to recuse herself from overseeing all elections in Arizona since she was running for governor. H.B. 2308 passed on a party line vote and now heads to the Republican-controlled Senate where it is likely to pass. However, Republicans have a slim majority in both chambers and will be unable to override any potential veto from now-Gov. Hobbs.

H.B. 2308 reads that the secretary of state shall “not take any action with respect to the portion of an election in which the secretary of state is a candidate and shall announce publicly the person in the secretary of state’s office who will perform any duties with respect to that election.” The legislation comes on the heels of an election where Hobbs prevailed in the governor’s race while serving as secretary of state, a common occurrence given that secretaries of state frequently run for re-election or for other positions while fulfilling their duties as chief elections official. Hobbs’ position as secretary of state became a common right-wing talking point for those disgruntled with Kari Lake’s (R) loss in the gubernatorial race.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the House also passed at least five other election related bills. These include:

  • House Bill 2305, which would allow representatives from each of the major political parties to observe the entire signature verification process for early ballots (including mail-in) and provisional ballots. 
  • House Bill 2322, which would codify signature verification guidelines outlined in a July 2020 guidance from the secretary of state. The introduced version of the bill permitted signature challenges, but that language was removed before passage in the House. 
  • House Bill 2378, which would prohibit the secretary of state, a member of a county board of supervisors, county recorders or any other election official from being a member of a political action committee or coordinating with a political action committee to fundraise or advocate around candidates or ballot measures.
  • House Bill 2415, which would remove voters from Arizona’s permanent mail-in voting list if they fail to vote in one election cycle. Currently, election officials automatically send mail-in ballots to voters on the permanent list before each election, however voters are removed from the list if they fail to vote in two consecutive election cycles.
  • House Bill 2477, which would “affirm the importance of the electoral college for presidential elections in this country.” This declaration stands in contrast to the 15 states and Washington, D.C. who have signed onto an interstate compact to ensure that the winner of the national popular vote becomes president.

A few of these bills received some support from Democrats, however H.B. 2305, H.B. 2415 and H.B. 2477 passed on purely party line votes, with all Republicans voting in favor and all Democrats voting against. 

Read H.B. 2308 here.

Track the status of H.B. 2308 here.