Arizona Secretary of State
|State executive officials|
Arizona's secretary of state is unique, as he or she serves as acting governor when the governor is absent or otherwise unable to serve. This duty is usually fulfilled by the lieutenant governor in other states, an office which Arizona lacks.
The current secretary of state is Ken Bennett, who was appointed by former Secretary of State Jan Brewer to replace her on January 26, 2009 after she won election as governor. He won election to a full term in 2010, defeating Democratic candidate Chris Deschere.
Before becoming secretary of state, Bennett served four terms in the state Senate, from 1999 to 2007, with the last four as Senate president. Before joining the legislature, he was a member of the Arizona State Board of Education for seven years; he also served on the Arizona Charter Schools Board. His public service career began with election to the Prescott City Council in 1985, during which he was named mayor pro tempore.
The office of secretary of state is established by the Arizona Constitution as part of the state's executive department.
Arizona Constitution, Article 5, Section 1 (Version 2)
|The executive department shall consist of the governor, secretary of state, state treasurer, attorney general, and superintendent of public instruction...|
The Arizona Constitution requires all of the officers in the state's executive department, including the secretary of state, to be at least 25 years old, a U.S. citizen for 10 years, and an Arizona resident for five years.
Arizona Constitution, Article 5, Section 2
|No person shall be eligible to any of the offices mentioned in section 1 of this article except a person of the age of not less than twenty-five years, who shall have been for ten years next preceding his election a citizen of the United States, and for five years next preceding his election a citizen of Arizona.|
Arizonans elect their secretary of state in midterm election years (2006, 2010, 2014, etc.) for a term of four years. The winner assumes office on the first Monday of January after his or her election. If no candidates receives a majority (over 50%) of the votes, a run-off election is held between the two candidates that received the largest amount. If the two candidates in the run-off receive an equal number of votes, the state legislature chooses a winner.
Arizona Constitution, Article 5, Section 1 (Version 2)
| A. The executive department shall consist of the governor, secretary of state, state treasurer, attorney general, and superintendent of public instruction, each of whom shall hold office for a term of four years beginning on the first Monday of January, 1971 next after the regular general election in 1970.
B. B. The person having a majority of the votes cast for the office voted for shall be elected. If no person receives a majority of the votes cast for the office, a second election shall be held as prescribed by law between the persons receiving the highest and second highest number of votes cast for the office. The person receiving the highest number of votes at the second election for the office is elected, but if the two persons have an equal number of votes for the office, the two houses of the legislature at its next regular session shall elect forthwith, by joint ballot, one of such persons for said office.
Secretaries of state, like all state executives, are limited to two consecutive terms. One may run for office once more after being out of office for one full term.
Term of office
The Secretary of State, like the governor, is subject to term limits. The Secretary of State is elected to a four year term, and may not serve more than two consecutive terms (part of a term counts as a full term).
The Secretary of State for Arizona has jurisdiction over state election laws, ensuring uniform implementation throughout the state. The Secretary of State also qualifies statewide and state district candidates and ballot initiatives.
Any member of the public may propose a ballot issue in Arizona. There are certain steps that must be followed in order to get the issue on the ballot, and these steps are regulated by the Secretary of State. The process that a citizen must follow is examined in detail here: Arizona Initiative Law.
Proponents must file their application with Secretary of State with the full text of the ballot attached and file their Statement of Organization (which must be done in accordence with the states campaign finance law). The Secretary will file the application and assign it a serial number. After this the petition can begin circulation.
When enough signatures are collected
When the petition is turned in to the Secretary of State, the signatures are verified. This will take about 30 days. Only when this process is completed will the Secretary of State set the ballot title and summary. The ballot is then reviewed by the Attorney General to check the legality of the ballot.
- Currently, there is no recourse if the proponents of the ballot do not agree with the Secretary of State's new language other than a lawsuit.
Within the next 60 days citizens can submit pro/con arguments for the ballot with the Secretary of State. This is the when the Legislative Counsel shall prepare and file an impartial analysis of the provisions of the the ballot and a measure shall be written in clear and concise language, avoiding technical terms wherever possible. The measure may include:
- existing law
- any legislative enactment suspended by the referendum if its approved/rejected
- background information
Getting the information to the public
One of the methods used by the Secretary of State to disseminate information is the Voter Guides. Analysis and arguments are included in the voter guides. The pamphlet is mailed by the Secretary of State to mcounty election officials, who in turn mail it to all households with a registered voter. It is also possible to contact the Secretary of State's office directly to obtain the VIP in alternate formats (Braille, large print, electronically, etc.).
The Secretary of State also holds three meetings in different counties to provide an opportunity for the general public to provide testimony and request information about ballot measures.
The Secretary of State is divided into seven divisions. These are:
- Business Filings
- Advance Directives
- Rules Filings
- Legislative Filings
The role of the Chief Election officer include:
- Serves as Chief Election Officer for the State and certifies candidates and measures (initiative and referendum) to the ballot and certifies election results.
- Transmits and certifies the results of statewide elections.
- Prepares, witnesses the signing of, and files with the President of the Senate and National Archives and Records Administration, the Presidential and Vice Presidential Elector Ballot Certificate of Vote.
- Files abstracts of votes for multi-county election districts.
- Serves as Registration Officer for Lobbyists and registers and files expenditure reports made by principals, public bodies, and lobbyists.
- Accepts and files campaign finance reports.
- Tests and certifies voting devices used by the counties
- Trains and certifies county election officials.
1700 West Washington Street, 7th Floor
Phoenix, AZ 85007-2888
Phone: (602) 542-4285
Toll Phone: (602) 255-8683
Fax: (602) 542-1575
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