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Election officials step down rather than face a hostile public

Posted at 7:02 PM, Jul 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-01 22:02:14-04

A growing number of election officials in Arizona are speeding up retirements or changing their careers. Nowhere is the trend more apparent than in Yavapai County.

Yavapai's top election officials, Recorder Leslie Hoffman and Elections Director Lynn Constabile won't be around to oversee the count.

"The rhetoric and the climate of elections has got really, really hot. We've been under a lot of pressure," Hoffman said.

Hoffman will step down later this month. Tired, she says, of all the threats and insults. Hoffman is taking a job that has nothing to do with elections.

"The threats I have, the sheriff patrols my house periodically. It's getting to be a lot and when the job offer came, I took it," she said.

With early voting beginning July 6, Pinal County Recorder Virginia Ross, who will be retiring at the end of her term, says the office has worked with both parties, law enforcement and County Officials in the months leading up to the 2022 elections.

They're working to develop and implement new procedures like an updated signature verification system. Voting equipment was tested Friday in Yavapai, Coconino, Mohave and Pima counties in advance of the August primary.

All to re-establish public trust.

"We are prepared, ready to go Wednesday for early voting and all of the new procedures are in place. Like I said, I think the parties and public will be very pleased with what we've done," Ross said.

Yavapai County is solidly Republican. Donald Trump and former U.S. Senator McSally both won the county in 2020.

Despite that, dissatisfaction with Yavapai election officials remains high among some voters.

Voters, Hoffman says, have refused to participate in outreach programs aimed at restoring trust in the voting system.

"When you've got these movies out there and all the stuff on social media that's what people are reading. They honestly don't want the truth," Hoffman said.

Voter distrust and dissatisfaction is leading experienced election officials to call it quits.

Yuma County Recorder Robyn Stallworth Pouquett is resigning July 18. Coconino County Recorder Patty Hansen will not seek re-election when her term expires in 2024. Years of experience that will not easily be replaced.

"There's a steep learning curve. I tell everybody there's some 1,700 laws or something that cover my office," Ross said. "That does take time so that's a lot of institutional knowledge."