PHOENIX — Keeping voters safe and your vote secure has been the top priority for the Arizona Secretary of State's office this year.
"My office has been focused on election security since day one. We are in constant contact with federal agencies involved in election security in Arizona," said Secretary of State Katie Hobbs.
A federal threat liaison officer is stationed right inside their building. Hobbs said her office was prepared for anything that might happen.
"One of the challenges has been with securing polling locations this year. A lot of public buildings have closed due to the pandemic, a lot of organizations like churches that normally hold polling places don't necessarily want people in and out of their buildings," said Hobbs.
An executive order signed into effect by Governor Doug Ducey in July helped solve that problem. "The executive order freed up some state buildings to be utilized as polling places," added Hobbs.
Another big challenge the state and some counties have been facing lies in the recruitment of poll workers. Many retirees who typically volunteer have been staying home because they are in the at-risk category for COVID-19.
Hobbs said the Governor's executive order will also help secure more poll workers for the November election by allowing state employees to do the job. "Having state employees being able to serve as poll workers is very helpful," said Hobbs.
Maricopa County is also seeing a big change this year, by using voting centers instead of the typical "assigned" polling places.
For the last two weeks registered voters have been able to walk into any voting center of their choice to cast their votes. We asked Hobbs what she thought about the "voting center" concepts.
"I think that the vote center model is where we're moving, so really voters can vote anywhere in the county. We have the technology to do that. I think that is the way to make voting more accessible and less complicated for people," said Hobbs.
She added that the voting center model not only helped cut down on long lines people are used to seeing on election day, but also the number of provisional ballots that would be cast, with people constantly showing up to the wrong polling place every year.