PHOENIX – Candidates running for municipal, county, and precinct committee offices will finally have access to the E-qual system, which provides a way to collect nomination petition signatures online. This system expansion is ready in time for candidates running for certain nonpartisan municipal offices to collect signatures before the July 6, 2020 deadline.
The City of Phoenix, Sierra Vista, and Huachuca City are among the first jurisdictions to use the upgraded system.
“Expanding the E-qual platform to include local offices was a complex process,” Secretary of State Katie Hobbs said. “Accommodating all of the political boundaries at the various levels of government took a lot of planning.”
As one of the requirements to appear on a ballot, a candidate must collect qualifying signatures either on a paper petition or using the E-qual system. E-qual has been available for statewide and legislative candidates since 2012. In 2016, state law was amended to authorize certain local candidates, specifically county, municipal, and precinct committeemen, to collect petition signatures on E-Qual.
When Hobbs came into office in 2019, no substantive work had been done on the project. Including local jurisdictions in E-qual would not have been feasible until the state completed the voter registration database system update in late 2019. The former system did not have the detailed information needed to accurately provide the service.
“Since we were starting from square one on this, and based on resources and capacity, we had planned this project for late 2020 or early 2021,” Hobbs said. “But we knew we needed to fast-track development in light of the circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Hobbs added that the office was already working on the expansion, when officials from the City of Phoenix asked about a similar project and offered to help. Officials from Phoenix and the Secretary of State’s Office have been testing the system for the past several weeks. Other municipalities have also participated.
“When it seemed likely that we would be able to successfully expand the system, we reached out to the League of Cities and Towns to find other municipalities with candidates collecting signatures for the July 6 candidate filing deadline. That is when Sierra Vista and Huachuca City joined the project,” Hobbs said.
Other jurisdictions interested in working with the Secretary of State’s Office to make the E-Qual system available to their candidates should email [email protected] for set-up instructions. Once the jurisdiction is added to the system, eligible candidates can create a profile on the E-Qual portal at https://apps.azsos.gov/equal/. The system provides a link to the petition that can be posted on websites or social media, and follows state and industry security standards, including end-to-end encryption.
For more information, go to www.azsos.gov.