On March 22, Maricopa County’s voting system completely failed. Since then taxpayers have had to pay almost $400,000 for a misprint on 2 million ballots, thousands of early voters didn't get Prop 123 info on time, and some voters were sent two early ballots for the Primary Election.

Problems are not confined to Maricopa County. Last month the statewide voter database was down for 10 days due to an FBI investigation.

Then for the Primary Election, the Secretary of State launched a new results reporting system. Unfortunately, the system crashed almost immediately. It was another instance of our elections system failing voters.

The Arizona Commission for Election Accountability has been investigating these problems and looking into reforms. What we’ve found is that while those responsible for March 22 and now August 30 need to be held accountable, there are broader systemic problems with our elections that are the root cause.

We live in a world of convenience, with public and private entities constantly improving the technology they use. But in Arizona, our elections process is dangerously behind the times.

In Arizona, each county runs its own elections and the Secretary of State has almost no oversight or coordination with the counties.

Likewise, there is a lack of coordination among the counties to share best practices. As a result, we have a patchwork of processes, technologies and databases that make participating in elections extremely difficult for voters.

That patchwork has exacerbated problems and made reforms difficult to achieve.

Modernization of Arizona’s election’s technology and systems would make our elections dramatically more efficient and secure.  We need to overhaul our elections system in Arizona and we can start with incremental changes.

Reforms like automatic voter registration could help reduce errors we’ve seen and help more eligible voters exercise their fundamental right.

This system would also increase voter turnout.  Turnout for the August primary was a meager 29 percent. To have a healthy Democracy, we need all eligible citizens to participate and vote.

We’re working with county officials throughout the state to push for more reforms, but it shouldn’t take outside groups pushing to fix our broken election system.

If we’re going to fix Arizona’s elections we need leaders brave enough to make real changes.

From both anecdotal and polling data, it’s clear that Arizonans want a more secure and accessible elections system. That’s an achievable goal, but we need an engaged electorate and a legislature willing to take this on in the next session.

We’re hoping to spark that debate and bring more Arizonans into the discussion. Join us by going to ModernizeAZ.com and taking our survey on how you would fix elections in Arizona.

-Samantha Pstross is executive director of the Arizona Advocacy Network & Foundation.

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