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Election Law @ Moritz Home Page

Election Law @ Moritz

Election Law @ Moritz

2008 Key Questions for Key States


The complete research by Election Law @ Moritz for Arizona can be found below.

Institutional Arrangements

State Chief Election Authorities

Elected individual (R)

Chief election authority: Secretary of State or designee. A.R.S. § 16-142.

Method of selection: Election. A.R.S. Const. Art. 5 § 1.

Current officer: Jan Brewer (R). Election Board Facing Votes of No Confidence, CQ Weekly, April 24, 2007. (Last updated 12/29/07)

State High Court Composition

D leaning/appointed

Method of selection: Gubernatorial appointment. A.R.S. Const. Art. 6 § 37.

Justices: Ruth V. McGregor (D), Rebecca White Berch (R), Andrew D. Hurwitz (D), Michael D. Ryan (R), W. Scott Bales (D) (Last updated 12/19/07)


  • American Judicature Society, Judicial Selection in the States: Arizona
  • Arizona voters get final word in judicial-retention process, Arizona Daily Star, October 29, 2007.
  • Tucsonan is finalist for high court, Arizona Daily Star, May 11, 2002.
  • Governor taps former senator for judge post, Business Journal (Phoenix), March 16, 2007.
  • Justice Bales rejects activist label, Arizona Daily Star, June 22, 2005.
  • Berch is new state justice, Arizona Daily Star, March 14, 2002.  

Voter Registration

EL@M did not research this topic for Arizona


Election day challenges

Successfully challenged voter must cast a provisional ballot

Any qualified voter of the county or poll worker may challenge a voter’s registration eligibility or on the ground that he or she has voted already. A.R.S. § 16-591.  Arizona law allows for appointment of political observers/challengers by county party chairs.  A.R.S. § 16-590.

If a voter is challenged, two judges and the inspector shall constitute the board of election, and a majority of the board of election shall determine the validity of a challenge.  A.R.S. § 16-531.  If the voter refuses to be sworn or affirmed, refuses to answer questions or the majority of the board find the challenge is valid, the voter shall be permitted to vote with a provisional ballot. A.R.S. § 16-592.

Updated 11/4/08

Provisional Ballots

Provisional ballot - name not in poll book

Ballot will count if voter was registered and eligible

Provisional ballots, including those provided when voters name is not in the poll book, will be counted as long as the voter’s registration is valid, the voter did not already vote, the signatures match, the voter was in the correct precinct, and the voter provided identification.  ARS 16-584.

Updated 11/4/08


Provisional ballot - voter cast ballot in wrong precinct

Ballot will not be counted

Provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct will not be counted.  The voters must show identification with an address in the precinct or affirm that they reside in the precinct before casting a provisional ballot.  A.R.S. § 16-584(B).

However, a voter who moves from the address at which he/she is registered to another address within the same county and who fails to notify the County Recorder of the change of address before the date of an election shall be permitted to correct the voter registration records at the appropriate polling place for the voter’s new address and be permitted to cast a provisional ballot. A.R.S. § 16-584(C).

Provisional Ballot Casting Rate - 2006

>2 percent of ballots cast at polls


Provisional Ballot Counting Rate - 2006

70-80 percent


Early and Absentee Voting

EL@M did not research this topic for Arizona

Voting Technology

EL@M did not research this topic for Arizona

Polling Place Operations

Polling hours extension


Failure to observe the proper polling hours will not vitiate an election unless the failure makes it "impossible or extremely difficult to determine... whether fraud had been committed or anything done which would affect the result." Chenoweth v. Earhart, 14 Ariz. 278, 286 (Ariz., 1912).

The hours of polling are 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. ARS 16-565.

Voters standing in line at the close of polls may still vote.  ARS 16-565.

Polling place closing times - local times

7:00 PM local time

Polling place closing times - by Eastern time zone

9:00 PM Eastern time

Ballot Security

Voter ID requirements

Non-photo ID required with current address

Arizona voters are required to either a) one form of identification that bears his or her name, address, and a photograph or b) two forms of identification that bear the name and address of the elector.  A.R.S. § 16-579(A).

The Arizona Elections Procedures Manual lists the following examples of valid photo identification: Valid Arizona Driver’s License; Valid Arizona nonoperating identification license; Tribal enrollment car or other form of tribal identification; Valid United States federal, state, or local government issued identification.  The Manual lists the following examples of acceptable identification without photograph: Any utility bill dated within 90 days of the election; Bank or credit union statement dated within 90 days of the election; Valid Arizona vehicle registration; Indian census card; Property tax statement; tribal identification; vehicle insurance card; recorder’s certificate; valid United States federal, state, or local government issues identification (includes voter registration card issued by County recorder). http://www.azsos.gov/election/Electronic_Voting_System/ 

Updated 11/4/08

Consequences of failure to present ID

Voters must cast provisional ballot

An Arizona voter who fails to present valid identification shall receive a conditional provisional ballot.  http://www.azsos.gov/election/Electronic_Voting_System/.  

Voters who identify as a member of a federally recognized Native American Tribe are only required to  provide tribal identification without a photo shall in order to receive a normal provisional ballot.

Updated 11/4/08


Follow-up required of voter

Voter must return with ID

A voter issued a conditional provisional ballot for failure to present identification will be notified at the polling location of the procedure to submit acceptable identification.  The voter must provide identification considered valid under A.R.S. § 16-579(A) to the County Recorder (or to another official deemed acceptable by the County Recorder) by 5:00 p.m. on the fifth business day after a federal election or by 5:00 p.m. on the third business day after any other election.  Arizona Secretary of State Elections Procedures Manual (2007) available at http://www.azsos.gov/election/Electronic_Voting_System/

Updated on 11/4/08

Emergency Preparedness

EL@M did not research this topic for Arizona

Post-Election Processes

Election Contest Scenario #1: Unverified Ballots


Arizona law does require voters to sign before they can obtain a ballot. §16-579. However, the statute does not prescribe the result when this procedure is not followed. No case was found considering this question.

Unverified ballots are often commingled with unproblematic votes. When uncountable ballots are inseparably commingled with lawful ones, Arizona courts will generally remove and eliminate ballots in proportion to the vote received by each candidate. Huggins v. County of Navajo, 163 Ariz. 348, 353 (Ariz., 1990). However, it is not clear that unverified ballots are uncountable at all. Instead, in the absence of the kind of statutory guidance found in some states, the court might choose to count the ballots, especially where there was no fraud and the ballots were unverified due to poll worker, rather than voter, error.

Election Contest Scenario #2: Provisional Ballots with Technical Mistakes


Arizona law does not give any guidance as to when provisional ballots should be counted, except to say that they should be counted when “verified for proper registration” and rejected when they cannot be verified. § 16-584. The statute does not state what is necessary for a ballot to be verified. This leaves local election officials and the courts to decide whether voter error should lead to rejection of the ballot. The state administrative code provides no further details. See AZ ADC R2-12-101 et seq.  

What Court Would Hear a Presidential Contest?

Unclear whether contest permitted

A Presidential election contest, if allowed, would be brought in the superior court of Maricopa County, where Phoenix is located. A.R.S. 16-672. The only exception is that, if one of the contestants lived in another county in Arizona, the contest could be filed in that county. Arizona superior courts are trial courts of general jurisdiction. Superior court judges are elected. A.R.S. Const. Art. 6, § 12. 

The Arizona election contest statute does not authorize federal election contests, only contests for state office. A.R.S. 16-672. Normally, courts will interpret this type of omission to mean that courts do not have jurisdiction to hear federal contests. Nevertheless, the Arizona Supreme Court interpreted the statute broadly to permit contests of primaries for U.S. House of Representatives. Harless v. Lockwood, 85 Ariz. 97, 102 (Ariz., 1958). This probably means other types of federal election contests would be permitted, too. Still, there is a possibility that Presidential elections might be excluded.

Who Performs Presidential recounts?


The Secretary of State has the responsibility to perform recounts, but she may designate the county board of supervisors to perform those functions. 16-664. County boards of supervisors are elected. 11-211. The statutes do not create an explicit right for candidates or other observers to be present during the recount.

The Secretary of State's election procedure manual does not provide any additional details (see pp. 163-164). There are no relevant administrative regulations. See Ariz. Admin. Code R2-12-101.