By Maria Parsons
Secretary of State candidate Adrian Fontes said he will put online the now-laborious process of gathering signatures for public initiatives. This will alleviate the ordeal of getting hundreds of thousands of signatures in a short time period during the sweltering summer.
Instead, voters will be able to sign a petition for an initiative online. He spoke at the October 25, 2021, meeting of Democrats of Greater Tucson.
“I would put all petition gathering online,” he said, explaining that it would be a secure way to ensure voters can have their voices heard. He also listed automatic voter registration as something he would like to implement, describing how our existing systems would easily be able to make the transition.
“We should also have a ballot tracking system. That’s not hard to do, folks, it’s just a matter of pushing and pulling data. We did it very cheap in Maricopa County, we could do it across the state,” he listed as one of the policies he would like to pursue.
Repairing Maricopa elections
Adrian, the former Maricopa County Recorder, is the first Latino countywide elected official in Maricopa County. “Maricopa County’s election systems were a mess until I took them over…many of you remember the four and five-hour-long voting lines in 2016, the closing of polling centers, all that stuff was happening before I showed up.”
He served as the Maricopa County Recorder from 2017 to 2021. Even amid the COVID pandemic and the violent insurrections at both the Maricopa Recorder’s office and our Nation’s Capitol, Adrian’s administration set up an elections infrastructure that led to record voter turnout in 2020.
Massive boost for Democrats
“We took Maricopa County from 2.1 million to 2.6 million registered voters in just four years. That’s a 20% increase. And it was a massive boost for Democrats statewide,” he said. “And on top of that, between 2016 and 2020, we saw 600,000 more ballots cast in just Maricopa County alone. And that’s because we opened up access, and we created vote-anywhere polling places.”
Adrian and his team:
Finchem is dangerous
The Secretary of State race has high stakes. “We’re at a very critical stage right now, particularly in this race. And let’s be fully honest, okay, we’ve got a guy running on the other side of the field who’s running away with it. He’s polling higher than everybody else, he’s raising a ton of money, and was just in Las Vegas at the QAnon conference…and he was campaigning with Donald Trump two weeks ago in Iowa. This is a guy who’s going to have national money and national support for a campaign that may result in not having certified elections in 2024 if he wins. I mean think about it. Mark Finchem is dangerous for our democracy, it’s really just that simple. What do we as Democrats have to do about that? Well, we got to beat him.”
“We’ve got to put the best candidate forward in the Secretary of State’s office to beat Mark Finchem, but it’s not just about the secretary’s office. We’ve got to do that at the governor’s office, we’ve got to do that in all our legislative districts, we’ve got to do that across the board with Democrats…we’ve got to get our voters to vote all the way down the ballot.”
He emphasized the importance of communicating with voters in the process of making these changes. “Doing the transformation that we did in Maricopa County wasn’t just about outreach, though there was a lot of that. It wasn’t just about IT security, though there was a lot of that. It wasn’t just about logistics and personnel and all the other things that are involved in a massive complex operation: it was about cooperating with folks across Arizona.”
“Communicating clearly and well with voters isn’t just the job of one local elected official or a handful. You’ve got to have statewide coordination of all the folks involved in the exact same endeavor to make sure that voters are fully informed of how to execute their fundamental rights. That’s fair. And that’s what we should do, and that’s what we did in Maricopa County. The results were plain to see.”
Talk about all eligible voters, all the time
He made it clear that these are ideals he intends to carry forward with his campaign. “We’re going to be a campaign that reaches out to all voters. So if you look at my rhetoric, you look at my tweets, you look at the things that I’ve talked about, what I’ve talked about is real, and it applies to everyone. And I think that’s one of the reasons that I’m held in such high regard, even among some Republicans and definitely among independents, because when it comes to elections, we’re talking about all eligible voters. We talk about all eligible voters, all the time.”
He elaborated further on how, specifically, he would put these values into practice in our elections. “First and foremost, I want to make sure that all voters in Arizona are treated equally well,” he said. “I want to make sure that we’ve got voting centers across the entire state.”
But elections are not the only thing he’s passionate about. “We’re doing everything that we can to have a very easy to understand and very usable Small Business Advancement section of our office. Why? Because at the end of the day, the business of America is business. It’s entrepreneurship, it’s opportunities, it’s that spirit of risk-taking and go-get-it.”
He reminding attendees that our future lies in our own hands. “If we really believe in our democracy, and we really believe in this republic and the people within it, then we have to trust that the system will work, because it’s this system that will defeat authoritarianism, and the neo-fascism that’s rising,” he said. “And you guys are the key to making that happen. You and your door knocks, you and your checks, you and your text messages, you and your letters, you and your phone calls, you guys are in the army that are going to make that happen out there.”
You’ve got to be out there, you’ve got to keep working, keep working, keep working. Because we have to believe in ourselves, because it’s our system, it’s our state. We cannot allow for this sort of thing to happen. Let’s not risk it. Let’s put it all in and for 2022, up and down the whole ballot.”
Video table of contents:
00:00:05 – Meet Adrian Fontes, Candidate for Arizona Secretary of State
00:13:48 – Q&A – What were your goals as Maricopa County Recorder, how did you implement them and what did you do successfully?
00:18:04 – Q&A – Why do you think you lost your 2020 election?
00:20:34 – Q&A – How will you reach out to Hispanic voters statewide?
00:23:37 – Q&A – How can you ensure that our rights to vote aren’t threatened by the State Legislature?
00:28:25 – Q&A – What will be your main goals as Secretary of State, and how will you accomplish them?
00:33:23 – Q&A – What changes to Arizona election laws would you recommend to the State Legislature?
00:36:15 – Q&A – Is there anything about the current Elections Procedures Manual that you like and would keep?
00:38:58 – Q&A – Is there anything you’ll be able to do as Secretary of State to prevent time-wasting challenges to elections, such as that by the “Cyber Ninjas“?
00:41:55 – Q&A – How will you explain to skeptical voters and elected officials that voting is secure?
00:47:03 – Q&A – In a worst-case scenario where Mark Finchem is elected Secretary of State, what potential damage could he do to our Arizona elections system?
00:50:13 – Adrian on the importance of the Office of Secretary of State
00:55:04 – DGT Announcements
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