Arizona lawmakers dodged a possible electoral nightmare this week, with members from both parties coming together to overwhelmingly approve a legislative tweak to the battleground state’s election policies ahead of the 2024 presidential contest.
State election officials warned last year that in a close race, Arizona’s new automatic recount rules could have left them double-checking ballots well past the deadline for sending their presidential electors to Washington, D.C. Such extended counting could have prevented Arizona’s Electoral College votes from being counted in the presidential election.
The bill moves the state’s primary to July 30th from August 6th, and changes other policies to ensure that election workers have enough time to count ballots and that military and overseas voters receive their ballots in a timely fashion. The bill also enshrines signature verification policies into state law, a provision Republicans sought in negotiations over the bill.
Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, applauded the legislation that now heads to her desk for a signature.
“While this legislation isn’t perfect, it’s the result of hard-fought compromises from everyone involved. Arizonans can rest assured that their voices will be heard and that our elections will run free of political interference,” she said in a statement.
The bill received broad support from state legislators. Just four Republicans cast no votes, with all other voting members in both parties backing the bill in both chambers.
Arizona became a hotbed of election conspiracy theories after former President Donald Trump and his allies challenged the razor thin margins of his 2020 loss. Republican lawmakers have spent years criticizing the state’s election policies, supporting a discredited audit and demanding changes.
In 2022, state lawmakers increased the threshold for an automatic recount from 0.1% to 0.5% in an attempt to increase confidence in elections. In 2020, the Arizona presidential race was decided by 0.3% of the vote, and similar results this year may trigger an automatic recount.