Arizona SOS Talks Elections at Peoria Chamber Luncheon

Independent News Media, Inc. – January 17, 2018
‘See The Money’ program testing for cities

“SOS talks elections at chamber luncheon”  
By Philip Haldiman, Independent Newsmedia

Election-related topics filled the room during Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan’s visit to the Peoria Chamber of Commerce’s quarterly luncheon., Jan. 17.

Ms. Reagan fielded questions largely about voting, campaign finance and dark money.

Last November, Ms. Reagan launched a new website called See the Money, intended as a user friendly-way for the public to track money in political campaigns.

The site currently tracks information about statewide and legislative candidates, but Ms. Reagan announced the SOS office has progressed on tracking finances for city, county and local races.

Three cities will begin beta testing the program in March, she said.

“I’m so glad the mayor and clerk are here today because this will be a free service to the towns and cities,” Ms. Reagan said. “We are very proud of this.”

Campaign finance information is already online for state and legislative candidates at the secretary of state website, azsos.gov.

State law requires all cities to post campaign finance information.

Peoria-related campaign finance records can be found online at the city’s website, peoriaaz.gov.

Mayor Cathy Carlat said she appreciates the efforts of the Secretary of State to advance transparency by creating a database for political contributions.

“There is nothing more important to the health of Arizona than informed voters,” Ms. Carlat said. “I am proud that Peoria maintains transparency and easy access to campaign finance records through the use of a fully searchable online public portal that is widely used and acclaimed for its easy access.”

Surprise-related campaign finance records can also be found online at the city’s website, surpriseaz.gov.

“While (Surprise) does not have details about the See The Money portal, I believe the more transparent any election process is, the better it is for all,” said Surprise City Clerk Sherry Aguilar.

See The Money tracks funds that go to candidates, political parties, Political Action Committees, political organizations, propositions, individuals and vendors. Ms. Reagan said the site allows users to display and group spending data in new ways, such as showing every campaign a donor has given money to, possibly revealing “dark money,” which was a big topic of conversation at the luncheon. “Dark money” comes from donors who are not required to reveal their identity.

Ms. Reagan said members of the state legislature could draft a bill to combat dark money, but it would take a constitutional amendment to do so. It could also be dealt with through a citizens initiative, and she said a group is gathering signatures to have one placed on the November ballot.

She said See the Money was created because of her experiences with “dark money” on the campaign.

“See The Money was born out of the election when ‘dark money’ was being thrown around both for and against me. And I never knew who these people were,” she said.

As elections loom in the coming months, some attendees of the luncheon had questions about polling places, which were reduced last year leading to longer lines in some parts of the West Valley.

Ms. Reagan reminded the attendees that polling places are chosen by Maricopa County, but that the SOS office is working with Supervisor Clint Hickman, who represents the area, to make sure things run smoothly.

She said many people in the West Valley love the experience of going to the polling places to physically vote, as opposed to using mail-in ballots.

“So there should be a lot of (polling places) because the experience of voting is like a social gathering for many,” she said.

Congressman Trent Franks resigned in December 2017 triggering a special election. Congressional District 8 will be having a special primary election Feb. 27 and a special general election April 24.

These special elections will cost $3.5 million, according to the SOS’s office.

The Maricopa County Elections Department will be administering these elections. The election plan, which included 53 proposed polling locations, up from 49, was determined in consultation with the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. Public comment on the proposed polling locations closed Jan. 19.

For a map of the proposed polling places in the upcoming special election, visit recorder.maricopa.gov/elections/CD8pollinglocationplan.aspx.

Murphy Herbert, a spokeswoman for the Maricopa County Recorder, said the hope is to have locations approved by the Board of Supervisors this week.

“The special election compressed timeline and the holidays meant we didn’t have as much time as we would have liked to get public comment for the special election locations,” she said.

As for the primary and general elections in August and November, respectively, Ms. Hebert said there will be a public comment period for polling places.

“Our preliminary goal includes holding a public meeting in July so we can incorporate feedback we receive prior to the primary election,” she said. “The locations should remain the same for the general election.”

VOTE
Secretary of State Michele Reagan said just because voters are registered does not mean they will turn-out. So the SOS office is pushing to get citizens registered to vote when they are young, she said.

“We need to go into schools and educated children who are 10 or 11 years old or younger,” she said. “Waiting until they are 18 years old is too late.”

Under Ms. Reagan’s administration, she started a program in which mock elections and debates are held in Arizona classrooms to educate children about the right to vote.

For a map of the proposed polling places in the upcoming special elections Feb. 27, visit recorder.maricopa.gov/elections/CD8pollinglocationplan.aspx

To register: You must be a United States citizen, a resident of Arizona and the county listed on your registration, and be 18 years of age or older on or before the day of the next regular general election. After successfully registering to vote you will receive a voter registration card in the mail within four to six weeks.

Online: If you have an Arizona Driver License and/or an Arizona non-operating I.D. card issued by the Motor Vehicle Division you must register to vote through Service Arizona EZ Voter Registration at servicearizona.com

Mail: Either print a form online or request a registration form be mailed to you from your county recorder. After completing the form, mail it to your county recorder’s office.

In Person: Visit the Maricopa County Recorder’s office, 111 S. Third Ave, Phoenix, 85003 and fill out a registration form.
Source: Maricopa County Recorder