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Arizona Free Enterprise Club Sues State over Early Ballot Signature Verification Process

•, Neil Jones

"The signature presented on an early ballot affidavit is the fulcrum on which the integrity of that ballot pivots; it is the only means by which the county recorder can verify that a person casting an early ballot by mail is, in fact, a duly qualified elector," according to the lawsuit. "And given the centrality of early ballots to elections in this state, signature verification is also foundational to the overall integrity of Arizona's elections."

The Arizona Sun Times reached out to the AFEC for an additional comment but did not hear back before publishing time.

According to the complaint, the issue at hand involves Arizona Revised Statute (ARS) § 16-550(A), which instructs on the curing process for an early ballot. Under the law, when a county recorder or their staff receives an early ballot, they must compare the signature on the ballot affidavit to one on "the elector's registration record." If the signatures appear inconsistent, it is the responsibility of the recorder's office to contact the voter so they can correct the signature and the county can confirm it is correct.

The complaint argues that the problem is that the EPM allows recorders to reference materials beyond what is allocated by law when verifying signatures. According to the EPM, drafted by former Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) in 2019, county recorders can use other documents from the voter's record, like signature rosters or early ballot request forms, to compare the signature with.