Maricopa County Recorder on Election Reforms

More from this show

Newly-elected Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes will discuss proposed election reforms with which he disagrees.

TED SIMONS: MARICOPA COUNTY RECORDER ADRIAN FONTES HAS BEEN ON THE JOB FOR LESS THAN A MONTH. WHAT ARE HIS INITIAL IMPRESSIONS OF THE OFFICE AND WHAT IS HE LOOKING FOR IN TERMS OF ELECTION REFORMS? JOINING US NOW "IS" MARICOPA COUNTY RECORDER ADRIAN FONTES. WELCOME BACK TO "ARIZONA HORIZON." WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS SO FAR?

ADRIAN FONTES: I'LL TELL YOU, THE THING THAT GETS ME THE MOST, WE HAVE SUCH AN AMAZING CREW THERE AND WE ARE LETTING FOLKS UNLEASH THEIR POTENTIAL. WE HAVE A GROUP OF PEOPLE THAT WORKED THERE A LONG TIME. WE ARE EXCITED ABOUT WORKING WITH THESE FOLKS. WE ARE KICKING OVER ROCKS AND FINDING A FEW ISSUES HERE AND THERE OF COURSE. WE WANT TO -- WE ARE PLANNING TO DO CORRECTIVE ACTION HERE AND THERE. FOR THE MOST PART, IT'S INTERESTING.

TED SIMONS: I BET IT HAS. AS FAR AS CORRECTIVE ACTION, AND THINGS AT THE DEPARTMENT DID WELL. WHAT ARE YOU SEEING, BOTH SIDES?

ADRIAN FONTES: THE TRANSITION ON THE RECORDING SIDE OF THE HOUSE HAS BEEN RELATIVELY EASY. WE HAVE GREAT STAFF AND MISS PURCELL HAS BEEN RECOGNIZED AND SO FAR AS INNOVATION THE KIOSK SYSTEMS I INHERITED AND WE OPENED A NEW ONE IN CITY HALL. PEOPLE CAN GO ALL OVER THE VALLEY AND SUBMIT THEIR PAPERS. THEY CAN GET LIVE INTERACTION WITH SOMEONE AND THE OFFICE SO THAT'S KIND OF COOL. SOME OF THOSE THINGS WENT WELL. SHE MAINTAINED AREA EXPERTS WHO KNEW WHAT THEY WERE DOING IN PARTS OF THE OFFICE. THOSE ARE SOME OF THE POSITIVE THINGS.

TED SIMONS: AS FAR AS THE NEGATIVE THINGS?

ADRIAN FONTES: WE ARE EXPLORING A LOT OF THE OFFICE AND A LOT OF WHAT GOES ON THERE. THERE IS A HOST OF TECHNICAL ISSUES THAT HAVE TO BE DEALT WITH ELECTIONS, ESPECIALLY DEALING WITH A JURISDICTION THE SIZE OF MARICOPA COUNTY. 2.2 MILLION REGISTERED VOTERS, FOURTH LARGEST IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. I HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO APPOINT RAVE ELLEN SUE ELLA WHOS BEEN IN THE OFFICER FOR 25 PLUS YEARS. HE'S AN EXPERT IN ELECTIONS, SITS ON THE ELECTION COMMISSION AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL, ON THE EXECUTIVE BOARD. HE'S BEEN A GREAT HELP TO MOVE US IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION AS WE MOVE FORWARD WITH THE SEARCH FOR A NEW ELECTIONS DIRECTOR. OVER ALL, IT'S A POSITIVE EXPERIENCE IN THE OFFICE AND WITH THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS AND THEIR STAFF, THINGS HAVE BEEN GREAT.

TED SIMONS: WHAT ABOUT THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS, SOME OF YOUR IDEAS HAVE BEEN TO HELP RECRUITING POLL WORKERS AND IMPROVING OUTREACH, HIRING COMMUNITY RELATION STAFFERS FOR EACH DISTRICT, THOSE ARE FOLKS THAT NEED TO BE PAID. THAT MEANS MONEY. THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS, REGARDING IDEAS, WHAT KIND OF REACTIONS ARE YOU GETTING?

ADRIAN FONTES: WE HAVE BROUGHT THOSE FOLKS ONBOARD. THERE WERE SEVERAL EMPTY SLOTS FOR WORKERS IN THE OFFICER SO WE HAVEN'T INCREASED TOO MUCH OF OUR BUDGET BECAUSE OF THE COMMUNITY RELATIONS TEAM. WE HAVE BEEN OPERATING UNDER A CULTURE OF HEROS. SOME OF THE FOLKS HAVE BEEN WORKING FOR A LONG TIME, SOMEONE RETIRES, THEY TAKE ON THE BURDEN OF THAT JOB. A LOT OF OUTREACH AND THINGS ARE HAPPENING, FOLKS WORKING A LOT OF HOURS, PUTTING IN A LOT OF EXTRA TIME. WE ARE COORDINATING A LOT OF OUTREACH ON THE TEAM TO SHARE THE INFORMATION WITH FOLKS IN THE COUNTY.

TED SIMONS: MOST FOLKS WANT TO KNOW WHY, WE KNOW WHAT HAPPENED ON ELECTION DAY, BUT CAN WE MAKE SURE IT DOESN'T HAPPEN AGAIN. THE VOTE COUNTING DELAYS, CAN WE KEEP THAT FROM HAPPENING AGAIN? WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON?

ADRIAN FONTES: THE VOTE COUNTING DELAYS WERE AN ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION THAT COULD HAVE BEEN ELIMINATED IMMEDIATELY. IOT WAS LITERALLY A QUESTION OF SQUARE FOOTAGE. WE HAVE FOLKS THAT COUNT THE BALLOTS. THEY WERE RUNNING ONE SHIFT OF 45 BOARDS DAILY. WHAT WE ARE GOING TO DO, WE ARE GOING TO GO THREE SHIFTS 180 BOARDS. NOW WITH SOME OF THE SPACE OPENING UP FROM OFFICES LEAVING THE WAREHOUSE, WE HAVE EXTRA SQUARE FOOTAGE IN THERE. KNOCKING ON WOOD FOR THAT. WE HAVE TO GET THE RESOURCES OUT THERE. THE LONG DELAYS IN GETTING VOTES COUNTED CAN BE CUTBACK EASILY BY GETTING MORE FOLKS IN, WORKING AROUND THE CLOCK. WE MIGHT BE ABLE TO GET DONE COUNTING ALL BUT THE PROVISIONAL BALLOTS WITHIN 48 HOUR OF CLOSING VAULTS.

TED SIMONS: I GUESS WELL SEE ABOUT THAT. IT SEEMS LIKE A BATTLE IS SHAPING OFF YOUR OFFICE IN PARTICULAR. RECORDER OFFICES AROUND THE STATE AND SECRETARY OF STATE'S OFFICE WANTS MORE COMMUNITY OVERSIGHT OF ELECTIONS. THEY SAY IT'S NEEDED POLLING SITES AND OTHER THINGS. TODAY, A LETTER FROM ALL OF YOU GUYS, ALL OF YOU RECORDERS, STRONGLY WORDED SAYING I'M NOT SO HAPPY WITH WHAT'S GOING ON AT THE SECRETARY OF STATE'S OFFICE. WHAT'S GOING ON WITH THIS?

ADRIAN FONTES: THE LETTER WAS SIGNED BY THE MAJORITY REPUBLICAN. BUT ALL 15 OF THE OCUNTY RECORERS SIGNED THIS LETTER. THERE IS A VARIETY OF ISSUES THAT WE HAVE PROBLEMS WITH PARTICULARLY THE STATEWIDE VOTER SYSTEM MISSING UNDER THIS ADMINISTRATION. I HAVE MET A COUPLE OF TIMES WITH SECRETARY REAGAN. IVE MET WITH THE ELECTIONS DIRECTOR ONCE. SITTING AROUND THE TABLE LISTENING TO THE OTHER RECORDERS TALKING ABOUT THEIR EXPERIENCES WITH THIS INDIVIDUAL, SOME OF THE VERY, VERY DIFFICULT COMMUNICATION CIRCUMSTANCES THAT HAVE ARISEN THERE, AND LISTENING TO WHAT THEY SAID CAREFULLY, I COULDN'T HELP BUT SUPPORT THIS STRONGLY WORDED LETTER. YOU SAW IT. IT'S TOUGH. WHEN I SEE THE NEED OUT THERE TO ADDRESS A PROBLEM, I'LL STAND SHOULDER TO SHOULDER WITH FOLKS.

TED SIMONS: THE BIGGEST PROBLEM YOU SEE FROM THAT OFFICE?

ADRIAN FONTES: I THINK THAT WE HAVE A COMMUNICATION GAP. I THINK A LOT OF IT HAS TO DO WITH THE WAY COMMUNICATION MOVES FORWARD IN A STATEMENT TODAY I THINK THE SECRETARY SAID SHE WAS GOING TO WORK ON THAT, EXCITED ABOUT THAT. I HOLD HER AT HER WORD AND SIT DOWN WITH HER AND WORK THINGS OUT. IF WE CAN'T WORK TOGETHER, THE VOTERS SUFFER. WE HAVE TO MOVE FORWARD.

TED SIMONS: GOOD TO HAVE YOU. THANKS FOR JOINING US. WE APPRECIATE HAVING YOU.

ADRIAN FONTES: THANK YOU SO MUCH.

Adrian Fontes: Maricopa County Recorder

Morse & The Last Endeavour
airs June 11

Morse and The Last Endeavour: A MASTERPIECE Mystery! Special

Birdwatching Across Arizona
aired June 7

Birdwatching Across Arizona

Super Why characters

Join a Super Why Reading Camp to play, learn and grow

National Memorial Day Concert image
aired May 28

National Memorial Day Concert

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters

STAY in touch
with azpbs.org!

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters: