TED SIMONS: GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO ARIZONA HORIZON. I'M TED SIMONS. ANOTHER CANDIDATE HAS ANNOUNCED FOR TRENT FRANKS'S CONGRESSIONAL SEAT. FORMER STATE REPREPRESENTATIVE PHIL LOVAS IS ENTERING THE RACE. LOVAS LEFT THE STATE HOUSE EARLY THIS YEAR FOR A JOB IN THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION AFTER OVERSEEING THE PRESIDENT'S ARIZONA CAMPAIGN OPERATIONS. LOVAS IS JOINED IN THE RACE BY FELLOW REPUBLICANS STEVE MONTENEGRO AND BOB STUMP, WHO ANNOUNCED THEIR CANDIDACIES EARLIER THIS WEEK. ALSO EARLIER THIS WEEK, THE GOVERNOR SET THE "DATE" FOR THE SPECIAL ELECTION, AND HERE TO TALK ABOUT MARICOPA COUNTY'S ROLE IN THAT VOTE IS COUNTY RECORDER ADRIAN FONTES Good to see you again. Thanks for joining us.
Adrian Fontes: Good to be back.
Ted Simons: Let's start with county voters.
Adrian Fontes: Okay.
Ted Simons: Those that are eligible to vote in this particular election. What do they need to know about all this?
Adrian Fontes: This is a special election after a resignation by a member of congress, unlike in the senate, the House of Representatives, the governor sets a date for the special election. So we’ll have a primary, that’s going to be in February. Then we’re going to have a general, that’s going to be in April. So the governor set those dates, and we will run those pretty much as if it’s a regular election, but because it’s a special election it has its own dates.
Ted Simons: Let's get the dates out there. As far as registration deadline, what are you looking at?
Adrian Fontes: The key registration deadline right now is January 29th. That’s January 29th for the special primary. That is going to be real important for folks to make sure they'll be able to vote in the February 27th primary. That is a critical date.
Ted Simons: Those already registered, do they remain registered?
Adrian Fontes: They do. We have already made the decision to send out some information in the middle of January. We are designing the stuff up right now to make sure that we get it out to all the folks who are already registered, and who will register between now and then. To do that folks can go to Maricopa.vote, or servicearizona.com.
Ted Simons: Obviously on these primaries, you vote by way of party. What do you do if you are an independent?
Adrian Fontes: I'm glad you asked that question. Independent voters have the opportunity, and will have the opportunity, to let our office know whether or not they want to vote for the republican or democrat or if we have a green or libertarian candidate. We'll send the information out to all the registered independent voters whether or not they are on the permanent early vote list. We need that information back so that we can know what to mail out for those folks that get their ballot in the mail, of course, and then independents can go on the day of the special primary, February, 27th, and they can select which party they want vote for.
Ted Simons: That's the way it is usually, correct? If you are an independent, you can vote but you have to choose which party to vote for.
Adrian Fontes: Right. This is a little different then the presidential stuff we have had experience with. In this race, in the primary February 27th, independents can vote. We are encouraging independents to vote.
Ted Simons: For the presidential primary.
Adrian Fontes: Yes.
Ted Simons: Which got a lot of folks upset. The deadline for early ballots, what is the deadline as far as requesting. What is the deadline as far as submitting?
We'll ask folks to be sure they have their early ballots in the mail back to us, at minimum a week out before the election day, February, 27th. We'll call it February 20th right now just to be safe, but you don't have to send it back in the mail. You can bring it into any of those sites that are open. If you have the ballot in the mail and you got that envelope that you’ve signed off and put your phone numbers, in case we got to call, bring it to any of the polling sites we have open and we'll take care of it for you.
Ted Simons: How many polling sites are you going to have open?
Adrian Fontes: Well that’s one of the reasons we are working closely with the board of supervisors right now to make sure we have what's necessary to make the election work. We don't have a final number yet. The call was made a few days ago. We are looking forward to getting that settled out by end of the week.
Ted Simons: Are you prepared for more polling places for the general in April as opposed to the primary in February? Same amount of polling places? What are you seeing out there?
Adrian Fontes: At this stage of the game, I think we are going same and same. The primaries are going to have a lot of different types of energy behind them and the general, of course, is going to be one party v. the other. As you know, Arizona is an important state in the political climate that we have. Lots of folks from all over are going to be interested in this race.
Ted Simons: If you are registered for the primary, you are registered for the general.
Adrian Fontes: Absolutely. January 29th is our registration deadline. Let’s make sure we get all that information in to us by the 29th, so that you can make sure to get your ballots and get to that primary election on February 27th.
Ted Simons: That is a very compressed schedule.
Adrian Fontes: It's really tight. At the elections department right now, we are, as I said earlier, like ducks on a pond. It is nice and smooth on top but we’re paddling like crazy underneath. One of the interesting things actually, we have to hire a temporary person to help hire all the election workers. We are really excited about being able to utilize some of the new stuff we got onboard that we used in the jurisdictional elections in this past November, which went very well. We'll be able to improve and modernize our systems, help with security, help with accountability.
Ted Simons: What about the cost? You talk about adding people on already just to oversee the people you have to add on again. Sounds like it is going to be expensive?
Adrian Fontes: It's going to be a little bit expensive, but at the end of the day, for the county, we'll do whatever we need to do to be sure it's a solid election. The state is going to have to end up footing the bill at the end of day. That is how it works. We front the costs, and then we submit that to the State’s Election Department at the Secretary of State’s office.
Ted Simons: How much are you working with the Secretary of State on this?
Adrian Fontes: We are working pretty diligently with them. In fact, we have some folks meeting with them on some of the other systems that we’ve been moving to improve with all the rest of the county recorders in the state as far as the election is concerned, we have spoken with them about certain deadlines. How we want to move this thing forward. We got open lines of communication. Secretary Reagan and I speak on a relatively regular basis just to make sure we are getting the things done.
Ted Simons: We are talking about a special election here because of congressman Franks resigning. The seat, you still have to have a regular vote come November for that seat.
Adrian Fontes: That's right, congressional district 8 is open for the special election because the congressman resigned before that six month deadline. Had the resignation happened May or later, which is six months before the regular election, we would have waited until November but because the resignation was before that, we are going to have a special primary, a special general and in August, the seat will be up again for the regular primary and for the regular general election too.
Ted Simons: As far as the general election, the real one, the regular one. Those dates don't change? Nothing really has changed although all that hubbub has gone on before hand?
Adrian Fontes: That's right. The only thing that has really changed is that we have two more elections this year that we’re going to have to put on. That is not a problem for our election department. We are ready to handle it and we are excited to get this going.
Ted Simons: This congressional district, it is entirely Maricopa county, is it not?
Adrian Fontes: It is. There are several districts in Arizona, congressional districts, that are entirely within Maricopa county. We have over 60% of all of Arizona voters here. Our election's department is busy. We have a robust operation. We have been doing all the things necessary to improve security and accountability. We are excited to prove up the new stuff we got going that, like I said, did pretty well this past fall.
Ted Simons: If anyone is watching right now and they’re not sure yet. They don’t even know if they’re in the right district. Some folks are not aware of these kind of things. To find out if they’re in this district, or what district they might happen to be in. Everything that we have talked about, is that information out there online somewhere?
Adrian Fontes: Absolutely. You can go to Maricopa.vote. That is Maricopa dot V-O-T-E. That will take you to our elections department website. You can call (602)506-1511. During regular business hours. We'll be able to help you get the information you need to be able to register and to be able to vote.
Ted Simons: Are you ready for all of this?
Adrian Fontes: You bet.
Ted Simons: You sure?
Adrian Fontes: You bet.
Ted Simons: Duck on a pond there. You know a duck on the pond can be targets too now?
Adrian Fontes: It's a nice pond. We are excited. We have a lot of friends in county government excited about us moving forward with strength. I think we'll do well.
Ted Simons: It's quite the adventure, isn't it?
Adrian Fontes: It's been interesting. I'm excited for the folks in the elections department. They have worked hard. We have great new systems going. We are excited.
Ted Simons: Sounds good. Good to see you. Thank you.
Adrian Fontes: Thanks. Anytime
A special election is planned to fill the seat of former congressman Trent Franks, who resigned after it was reported he was under investigation for sexual harassment.
The special election primary is scheduled for Feb 27, with a general election on April 24. Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes says his office is working to make sure everyone is aware of when the election is going to be held and where voting booths will be available.