AG to file lawsuit to compel Secretary of State to produce lawful Elections Manual
PHOENIX – Attorney General Mark Brnovich is suing the Arizona Secretary of State (SOS) to compel her production of a lawful Elections Procedures Manual (EPM), which she has failed to produce. An updated EPM is required by law and helps ensure consistency and integrity in the administration of Arizona’s statewide elections.
“Providing a set of rules that is consistent with Arizona law for every county to utilize in the 2022 Statewide Elections is not a suggestion, it is a requirement for the Secretary of State,” said Attorney General Brnovich. “By now everyone should understand the imperative of maintaining lawful and accurate elections that avoid even the appearance of impropriety."
The SOS failed to provide the Governor and Attorney General with a lawful manual by October 1, 2021, as required, and instead included nearly one-hundred pages of provisions not permitted under the EPM statute. This is especially problematic because the EPM has the force of law, subjecting offenders to criminal penalties. Moreover, the Arizona Supreme Court has repeatedly held that provisions beyond the SOS’s authority can neither be included nor enforced.
Therefore, the Attorney General and Governor declined to approve the SOS's EPM, rejecting its array of unlawful and unenforceable provisions and expressing concern for the confusion it would create for county election officials. The SOS refused to make the required changes, thus failing to produce a lawful EPM and leaving counties without a roadmap to ensure free, fair, and orderly statewide elections in 2022.
The AGO and the Yavapai County Republican Committee are now asking the Yavapai County Superior Court to order the SOS to provide a lawful EPM, one that specifically includes rules regarding ballot signature verification, prohibitions on outsourcing any part of that process such as the use of unregulated artificial intelligence software, and requiring that all ballot drop boxes be appropriately staffed.