Local Republicans rip 'absurd' RNC lawsuit against their election management
Ronna Romney McDaniel (Photo by Mandel Ngan for AFP)

The Republican National Committee is suing Maricopa County over election transparency and election worker hiring practices, in what the county’s Republican recorder called “a political stunt.”

The RNC filed two lawsuits this week after the county didn’t respond to a letter the committee sent last month demanding explanations for why more Democratic than Republican poll workers were hired for the August election. The RNC claims that the county did not respond to all of the questions laid out in the letter.

“The idea that a Republican Recorder and four Republican board members would try to keep Republicans out of elections is absurd,” Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer and County Board Chairman Bill Gates said in a joint statement in response to the suits.

Only one of the five-person Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, Steve Gallardo, is a member of the Democratic Party.

“This is a lie,” Supervisor Thomas Galvin tweeted in response to the suits. “Ronna Romney McDaniel (chairwoman of the RNC) is wasting GOP donor money &, more importantly, @MaricopaCounty resources & tax dollars on a PR stunt thats using AZ’s court system as a political playground. I love Arizona & swore an oath to serve it justly. I’m sick of grifters attacking AZ.”

The county is required to hire an equal number of election board and poll workers from both parties, and said that it attempted to do so, but ended up with 857 Democrats working the primary election on Aug. 2 and only 712 Republicans.

“After several weeks of negotiations, Maricopa County left us no choice but to sue because Arizonans who want to be poll workers shouldn’t be shut out of the process,” RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and Arizona Republican Party Chairwoman Kelli Ward said in a joint statement. “With midterms just 34 days away, Arizonans deserve basic transparency about how their elections will be conducted. This legal offensive is the latest step in Republicans’ ongoing efforts to promote free, fair, and transparent elections in Arizona.”

The Maricopa County Elections Department previously told the Arizona Mirror that it follows state law and aims “for equal representation from the two major political parties as we fill temporary election worker positions,” sometimes even going above and beyond statutory requirements.

The county blamed the discrepancy in partisan poll workers in part on the large turnover rate in workers running up to the election and the need to replace them.

A week before Election Day, the department had to fill 220 poll worker positions. County officials estimated that more than 500 temporary election workers quit at some point leading up to the election, and then their positions had to be filled.

The RNC claims that the county doesn’t have a good process for backfilling those positions when workers quit, and blamed the high attrition rate on unreasonable work requirements.

In one of the suits, the RNC asks the court to compel Maricopa County to supply it with documentation of the county’s efforts to hire Republican poll workers and central election board workers, as well as proof of its efforts to find Republican replacements for workers who didn’t show up on Election Day.

In its other suit, the RNC claims that the requirements for temporary elections and poll workers in Maricopa County prohibit many Republicans from being election workers.

“The Defendants’ hours requirements foreseeably exclude virtually all persons who wish to participate but cannot abandon all other personal and professional obligations in October and November,” the RNC says in the suit.

Requirements that the RNC says deters Republican workers include some 14-hour days and obligatory weekend shifts.

The Republican Party designated qualified electors to serve on the county’s election boards in the August primary, but the RNC claimed that many of the people it designated could not handle the requirements of the job.

“The Defendants cannot establish onerous hours requirements, or create unduly inhospitable working conditions, that deter Republican workers from participating in the administration of Arizona Elections – and then claim compliance with the Equal Access Statutes (requirement for the same number of Republican and Democratic workers) was impossible,” the RNC said in the suit.

The RNC did not respond to a question from the Mirror asking why longer hours and multiple-day commitments would discourage more potential Republican poll workers than Democratic ones.

In response to the RNC’s suit, All Voting is Local, a nonprofit that advocates for fair and accessible elections, said in a statement that election and poll worker laws were created “to protect voters from anti-democracy conspiracy theorists who want to disrupt the free and fair election process.”

The group also thanked the election officials who protect the right to safe voting.

“Maricopa County election officials are duty bound to follow the laws, guidelines and predetermined process to select poll workers,” Alex Gulotta, Arizona director of All Voting is Local, said in the statement. “We have confidence that election officials are abiding by and adhering to the laws and standards outlined in the poll worker guidelines released by All Voting Is Local and the Brennan Center for Justice last week.

This is just the most recent in a laundry list of criticisms that Republicans have hurled at the Maricopa County Elections Department over the past two years, including through their multimillion dollar partisan “audit” of the 2020 presidential election by the now-defunct firm Cyber Ninjas.

Arizona Mirror is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Arizona Mirror maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Jim Small for questions: info@azmirror.com. Follow Arizona Mirror on Facebook and Twitter.