Dispute arises from state query about election system

Dispute arises from state query about election system

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - There is a dispute in Arizona over voter registration systems in Pima and Maricopa counties and the Secretary of State Michele Reagan.

Reagan has asked the state Attorney General for a legal opinion on whether it's legal for the two counties to maintain a separate election system from the state.

At present, 13 of the state's 15 counties are linked into the state system, but the two counties each maintain their own voter systems and databases.

Pima County recently spent $4 million upgrading and implementing its system. The Secretary of State is exploring the possibility of replacing the statewide system with a more modern platform.

The Arizona system was one of two systems nationwide that was hacked last summer. Following an FBI investigation, it was thought to be by Russian hackers.

During the investigation, the state system, as well as the 13 counties on the system, were shut down for a week.

"Maricopa and Pima Counties were able to keep working, processing voter requests, processing whatever we needed to do," said Pima County Recorder F. Ann Rodriquez.

Rodriquez says the county wants to keep the system it has rather than become part of the state system.

"You want us to give up the system that we have that works," she said. "The two biggest counties need to be able to do what we do for the citizens who live in our counties."

Reagan issued a response to our questions about why she wants to make the system uniform statewide.

"...It became obvious there were differences of opinion and some serious concerns regarding the Secretary of State's role in administering the statewide voter registration database," Reagan said. "It is my hope a formal opinion will provide the clarity needed for all so that we can move forward collectively fulfilling all of our responsibilities to the voters of Arizona."

Both counties in question, upload voter registration data to the state as required by state law. But some information concerning mail-in registration, purging of the rolls, and provisional ballots remain in the county database.

It can be retrieved if requested but would be made part of the state database if Maricopa and Pima counties merge with the state.

If that information could be used by outside groups mining data for election purposes remains unclear.

In a letter responding to the Secretary of State, Rodriquez called the request for a legal opinion "playing political games" and a "blindside" since she was not notified nor her input requested.

She also accused Reagan's office of saying the county recorders were "incompetent."

She points out her office has more than 100 years of election experience and she has served as a recorder for 24 years, elected six times.

"It's not political," Rodriquez said because she has worked with several GOP Secretaries of State without the question arising before.

She points out larger states, such as New York, also have a hybrid system.

"Now she's questioning, does Pima County and Maricopa County have the legal authority?" she said. "Are you saying we've been doing it illegally all these years?"

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