Arizona lawmakers move to return to paper ballots, hand counts

Measure would ban the use of electronic voting and electronic or other tabulating devices in any election in Arizona.

Updated: February 15, 2022 - 11:20pm

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Legislators have given early approval to a bill that would ban the use of voting machines and require the millions of Arizona’s electoral ballots to be counted by hand.

The Senate Government Committee voted along party lines Monday to move forward Senate Bill 1338. Sponsored by Sen. Wendy Rogers, R-Flagstaff, the measure would ban the use of electronic voting and electronic or other tabulating devices in any election in Arizona. It also would mandate precinct polling places, forbidding the current system of more consolidated voting centers.

“There is nothing more important than the preservation of our democracy,” Rogers told the committee. “This is brave what we’re trying to do here. We must do this.”

Multiple witnesses said counting more than 3 million ballots across the state in the hours after polls close presents a massive lift. Rogers insisted the state would have plenty of volunteers to do the job.

“They’re willing to go anywhere in the state,” Rogers said. “There would be enough people volunteering around the state to come to your district and mine, if necessary.”

According to the Arizona Secretary of State’s office, nearly 4 million Arizonans registered to vote before the 2020 general election.

A partisan review of Maricopa County’s 2020 general election entailed months of hand and machine counting of 2.1 million ballots. The review did not count all of Maricopa County’s down-ballot races, opting to count only presidential and U.S. Senate votes.

Jen Marson with the Arizona Association of Counties told the committee the move back to paper ballots would be a step backward.

“We use technology in our everyday lives and other very sensitive areas – banking, medical, etc. – I don’t think we should go backward in terms of voting even though we obviously recognize that voting is an incredibly crucial piece of the way our country functions.”