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Recent Senate Bill passes, allowing schools to act as polling places

Senate Bill 1140, sponsored by Arizona Senator Jake Hoffman, was given a “do pass” recommendation by the House Municipal Oversight and Elections Committee in March 2023. The bill would allow public schools to act as polling places.

The goal of the bill was to improve access to voting areas, according to Hoffman.

On March 22 Hoffman spoke to the House Municipal Oversight and Elections Committee to explain new amendments made to the bill. The House Municipal Oversight and Elections Committee conducts hearings for state agencies, boards and commissions that fall under the scope of elections, according to the Arizona legislature website. 

Hoffman said the bill would exempt charter schools and would only be imposed on public schools. Additionally, Hoffman detailed how election days would act as “blackout” days where teachers would work, while students have the school day off. Hoffman explained this would help with safety concerns. 

“So this, this would prohibit teachers from being able to use personal vacation days and other leave time?” Representative  Cesar Aguilar, District 26, asked in response to Hoffman. Additionally, Aguilar asked if this stipulation would prevent teachers from voting on election days if they were required to work. 

Hoffman said most teachers are on a 180-day work contract, so requiring teachers to work on election days would be in line with the contract. Hoffman said employers are required to provide three hours at the beginning or end of the work day for employees to vote. Though election days would act as a mandatory work day for teachers, teachers would still be given the opportunity to vote. 

Jennifer Marson, the executive director of the Arizona Association of Counties. Marson said  the county school superintendents had concerns about the language of the bill. 

“The county superintendents … believe the language of this bill is abridged too much,” Marson said. Marson said the bill had “vague language” which diminished the schools' control of time-off and safety policies. 

“This bill is very simply about accessibility to voting,” Hoffman said. 

This bill, however, is in limbo and has made almost no progress since March.

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