Home>Election>Rogers and Kolodin Significantly Improve AZ Election Security
State Representative Alexander Kolodin speaking with the media outside the Arizona State Capitol building on the opening day of the 56th Legislature in Phoenix, Arizona
State Representative Alexander Kolodin speaking with the media outside the Arizona State Capitol building on the opening day of the 56th Legislature in Phoenix, Arizona (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Rogers and Kolodin Significantly Improve AZ Election Security

Reach agreement with election ballot service to increase transparency and enhance accuracy

By Steve Kirwan, March 4, 2024 10:52 am

Arizona Senator Wendy Rogers (R-LD7) and Representative Alex Kolodin (R-3) issued a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Runbeck Election Services, Arizona’s ballot and election service provider.  The MOU addresses key concerns over ballot safety and transparency, with the ultimate intent being assurances that this November’s election will be more secure. Runbeck has provided balloting and voting equipment and services to Arizona cities, counties, and, ultimately, the state since its inception in 1972. Runbeck provides similar services in 20 other states.

Kolodin and Rogers have expressed concerns over election integrity in light of widespread irregularities and ballot equipment failures in the last several election cycles. The MOU represents a culmination of ongoing discussions over election integrity coupled with Runbeck’s recent change of ownership. In August of 2023, Lincoln Shields, a Black Mountain Investment Company subsidiary, purchased a majority stock buyout of Runbeck Election Services.

The ownership change sparked a wildfire of controversy after it came to light that Black Mountain’s president and CEO, Mihai Toma, is House Speaker Ben Toma’s brother. Toma denied any advanced knowledge of the transaction, assuring that his stake in Black Mountain was strictly financial, not political. Shortly after the ownership change, Toma vowed to divest all stock in Black Mountain to avoid even the perception of impropriety.

The MOU negotiated by Rogers and Kolodin addressed a wide range of election concerns. In a press release dated March 4, 2024, the primary election reforms include:

  • Bipartisan Observation Program & Enhanced Security: The Republican and Democratic parties will each be allowed three observers at Runbeck facilities during the Arizona primary and general election days to oversee ballot sorting.
  • Legislative Audits of Software: The Arizona House of Representatives will be allowed independent audit access to all software licensed to Maricopa County for signature verification and ballot duplication. The findings of any such audit will be made public.
  • Election Workflow Document: Runbeck will release documentation outlining its scope of work and election workflows to Maricopa County and other Arizona election agencies prior to the August 2024 primary.
  • Access to Historical 2022 Election Data: Runbeck grants legislative observers access to the company’s 2022 general election night loading dock video footage.

Kolodin included appreciation for Runbeck’s willingness to work toward election security. He wrote, “This agreement represents a significant advancement in our ongoing efforts to ensure the security and integrity of Arizona’s elections. I appreciate the cooperation of Runbeck’s new ownership and their willingness to provide greater transparency – the foundation of public trust and confidence.” Kolodin also noted that “contingent on a legislative appropriation, Runbeck has also agreed to cage the sorters.”

The MOU included language addressing the MOU’s intent. “This agreement was reached voluntarily by the parties to increase public trust in the election process, and other terms and conditions apply, such as but not limited to observers signing a code of ethics pledge and being trained on processes and safety procedures. The parties reserve the right to exit this understanding with written notice. All or portions of this understanding are subject to Runbeck client(s) approval.”

You can read the full press release here.

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Steve Kirwan
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