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Pima GOP wants election commission revived

County suspended it in COVID response
Posted at 7:21 PM, Apr 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-23 22:27:15-04

TUCSON, Ariz. - The Pima County Republican Party says Pima County Supervisors had no business suspending the County Elections Integrity Commission just as COVID-19 is raising questions about how elections will be held, but the chairman of the supervisors says there’s no risk to the elections coming up.

There’s no escaping the way COVID changes everything and with the strong chance it will change how elections are run, Republicans do not want to see the Election Integrity Commission on the sidelines.

In person voting was already becoming more rare as more jurisdictions encourage mail in ballots. Now with the push for social distancing elections will probably change even more.

But earlier this month, Pima Supervisors suspended the Elections Integrity Commission, along with all other boards and commissions except the Small Business Commission---it’s seen as essential for recovery.

Board Chairman Ramon Valadez says it’s hard to devote county staff to the commissions with so many working remotely because of the virus.

But Pima County Republican Chairman David Eppihimer rejects that argument.

“It's just a smokescreen, they're using the COVID-19 situation as an excuse to conduct this election without overs without citizen oversight.”

Eppihimer says the Commission could work by teleconference for social distancing. He thinks there’s some payback for Republican commission members being aggressive about doing their jobs.

While Eppihimer says the commission should be involved in pre-planning the election, Valadez says the commission’s main work comes after, and both political parties will get the chance to monitor the election.

He says, “They're going to be involved in the ballot accounting, they're going to be involved in the security checks, there's going to be involved in the observation.”

Valadez says that’s why he calls this a made up issue but Republicans insist it’s important and they want the Commission revived in time to plan for primary elections this summer.