PHOENIX – To kick off the first day of National Voter Registration Month, Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs announces that the Arizona recipients of the National Association of Secretaries of State Medallion Award winners are the late Alta Edison, former Pima County Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez, and former Maricopa County Chief Deputy Recorder Keely Varvel.
The NASS Medallion Award provides an opportunity for Secretaries of State to recognize individuals with outstanding service and dedication to furthering elections, with special emphasis on voter and civic education and participation. Additionally, since 2002 NASS has recognized September as National Voter Registration Month to encourage eligible Americans to register to vote or update their voter registration information.
“These three women have dedicated decades of public service and were faced with extraordinary challenges during the last election cycle,” Hobbs said. “I want to congratulate them all for this award, which recognizes the commitment they have demonstrated to voters in the state of Arizona.”
Edison is being posthumously awarded for serving as the Elections Outreach Coordinator in Coconino County for 41 years. She worked collaboratively to develop the Navajo Language Terminology Guide, which clarifies election terms in Diné.
“Alta was instrumental in creating the county’s Native American Elections Outreach Program. It served the unique needs of the six tribes in the county,” Hobbs said. “Despite the unprecedented pandemic in the 2020 election cycle, she continued her work conducting drive-thru voter registration drives in tribal communities.”
Edison helped register more than 17,000 voters on tribal lands in Coconino County ahead of the November 2020 election.
"Alta was a tireless and dedicated champion of the right to vote. She created an award-winning Native American Voter Outreach program for Coconino County," said Coconino County Recorder Patty Hansen. "She met every challenge with a positive can-do attitude, whether it was keeping her poll workers, team members and voters safe during the COVID19 pandemic or needing to build an outhouse for a polling place. I appreciate the NASS recognizing her lifetime of election service with this award."
Rodriguez was the first ever Hispanic woman to be elected to countywide office in Pima County. She retired in 2020, after serving as county recorder for 28 years.
“During her time as county recorder, F. Ann was a stalwart protector of democracy,” Hobbs said. “She knew the business of elections and served as a leader in the election community, never backing down in the face of a challenge.”
Varvel served as the chief deputy recorder for the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office from 2017 to 2021 and played a major role in ensuring elections ran smoothly without interruption during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Keely spent countless hours working with staff and volunteers during the COVID-19 pandemic to provide safe voting options in Maricopa County,” Hobbs said. “Although her physical safety was often threatened at work, as was the safety of her colleagues, she performed her duties with calm leadership.”