Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan told the crowd at the Marana Chamber of Commerce’s recent community and regional update that she isn’t a fan of waking up at 5 a.m.
“But I will do it for a businesses group, especially small businesses, [which are] my passion,” she added.
Reagan said what makes her love her job is her ability to bring business practices to the table, which, to her, meant bringing the Secretary of State’s office (and one of the computers there, still operating on DOS, a system in its heyday in the ’80s and ’90s) into the digital age. The business services division, she explained, received over 9,000 Arizona filings a month, and much of the work is still done on paper.
“What I want to be known for, and what I want to do, is to put those services online,” she said
Reagan said her office has used the azlibrary.gov website to make division information such as Arizona history, current newspapers and even a free one-year subscription to the Arizona section of ancestry.com, available online.
Information about referendums—such as the recent petition to put the state’s expansion of school vouchers onto next year’s ballot—can also be accessed online. Using digital technology to scan, verify and count signatures has reduced her office’s processing time from 26 days to nine days, according to Reagan.
Her next focus project is “See the Money,” which aims to make PAC and campaign expenditures, though already public record, more accessible to the public, without including information like addresses and signatures.
Reagan said her hope is to have See the Money in use for next year’s election. She has budgeted $1.5 million for the program over a several years, and spending is currently at $800,000. Eight cities will test the program in October, and Reagan’s office will use their feedback to improve and build upon the program.
“No other state has built anything like what we’re building,” she said. “We really think it will be a national model.”
The See the Money project was supposed to debut in 2016. The Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting revealed earlier this year that the project was over budget and the original software company contracted to develop the program went out of business after being paid nearly a half-million dollars and delivering a software program that has not yet been implemented.
When Reagan opened the floor for questions, Jo Anne Westerman, owner of the Marana Firehouse Subs franchise, asked about Reagan’s response to the Trump administration’s request to states for voter information.
Reagan said that Arizona state law prevented her from sending certain identifying information about voters, such as dates of birth and Social Security numbers, but noted that a person’s political party and whether they had voted was already public record. She hadn’t sent the information to President Trump yet, citing a hack of Arizona’s voter registration system in June of last year as one reason for her hesitation.
“I have a real problem with sending all the voter information electronically,” she said. “To me, that’s a hacker’s dream.”
Reagan had responded to the request with questions about who would have access to the information and how it would be encrypted, and said all she had received back was another letter requesting the information, to which she plans to respond with the same questions.
Reagan said that to her, it was a strange turn of events to “have people begging us to send their info to the federal government,” adding that members of the general public had to fill out public records requests to obtain such information, something the Trump administration had not done.