Arizona Legislature Sends Bill Permitting Hand Counting to Governor

UPDATE: On Friday, June 16, Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs (D) vetoed House Bill 2722.

WASHINGTON, D.C. On Monday, June 12, Arizona Republicans passed House Bill 2722, which would allow any county in the state to replace the electronic count of ballots with a hand count. The bill now goes to Gov. Katie Hobbs (D) to sign or, more likely, veto. Republicans’ slim majority in both chambers will be unable to override any potential veto. 

H.B. 2722 would allow hand counting to take place during the initial ballot counting should a county choose to switch tallying methods. Supporters of the bill, like Rep. Alex Kolodin (R), of Scottsdale, insists that the bill only clarifies the existing law, stating: “No law requires county recorders to do a machine count in the first place.” 

However, the courts seem to be at odds with this stance. Arizona has seen several counties, notably Cochise County, attempt to hand count in 2022, sparking litigation. Ultimately, a court found that the Cochise County Board of Supervisors did not have the authority to expand its standard hand count audit to a full hand count.  

State Rep. Oscar De Los Santos (D), an opponent of the legislation, argued that “attempting to bring this irresponsible, inaccurate, unreliable and utterly broken election system to Arizona amounts to nothing short of an attack on our democracy and on fair, impartial and accurate elections.” He cited hand counting’s impracticality and unreliable nature as potential issues. 

Secretary of State Adrian Fontes (D) also has concerns with plans to switch from electronic tabulating to hand counting. Earlier this month, in response to a county considering changing its election procedures, Fontes noted that it may violate a federal law that requires upgrades to voting equipment as needed and a state law that “does not allow county boards, which are specifically granted limited authority to canvass election results, to unilaterally substitute a hand count for certified and tested electronic tabulation equipment.”

The push for hand counting stems from the state’s Republican legislators’ embrace of election denial conspiracies, which has imbued suspicion about the existing electronic tabulating system. 

Arizona is not entirely alone in pursuing hand counting. Last fall, after hand counting ballots, Nye County, Nevada faced litigation from the ACLU, which claimed that the method “threatens voters’ rights to accurate elections by compromising the security of their ballots.” More recently, Shasta County, California voted to hand count all ballots in the county’s next election, a move that the state Assembly is trying to halt.  

Read H.B. 2722 here.

Track the status of H.B. 2722 here.