A bill to modernize elections that had broad support from both parties ran into a partisan buzz saw last week when the Republican House leader stripped key items such as weekend voting. The legislation would have allowed Arizona counties with the proper technology to keep early voting centers open from Saturday through Monday before Election Day, giving voters three more days to cast a ballot. The current prohibition on voting during the weekend dates to when election departments needed time to mark paper rosters by hand to note who cast early ballots before Election Day.
Maricopa County, which serves 2.2 million voters, and other smaller counties now have technology that updates the voter database in real time. The computer system records immediately when someone casts an early ballot, eliminating the need for election officials to close early voting centers the weekend before Election Day to reconcile records.
SB 1466 was a rare compromise between all 15 county recorders — eight Republicans and seven Democrats — as well as the bipartisan County Supervisors Association, Arizona Association of Counties, the Maricopa County Republican Party and left-leaning election reform groups. It unanimously passed the Senate and two House committees.