Have you ever wondered how many US senators there are, how a bill becomes a law or why we have the Electoral College? Is your knowledge of American government, well, a bit rusty?

If you answered “yes” to any of the questions above, Vote Smart’s Government 101 is designed especially for you. This tutorial is informative, practical and easy and is intended to help refresh your knowledge of American government by providing useful information about our Federal Government, State Government and much much more.

We hope that if you take a little time to read through Government 101, you’ll be able to see past the spin and get the facts next time you vote.

Arizona Members of the Congress of the United States

Senator Jeff Flake - Elected in 2013 - Next Election 2018

These 2 candidates are campaigning against each other to get elected this November to represent the state of AZ in the Senate for a 6 year term:

Senator John McCain - Elected in 1987 Candidate for re-election 2016

Ann Kirkpatrick - Candidate for election 2016

1st District - Ann Kirkpatrick

2nd District - Martha McSally

3rd District - Raul Grijalva

4th District - Paul Gosar

5th District - Matt Salmon

6th District - David Schweikert

7th District - Ruben Gallego

8th District - Trent Franks

9th District - Kyrsten Sinema

1st District - Tom O’Halleran vs Paul Babeu

2nd District - Martha Mcsally vs Matt Heinz

3rd District - No Candidate opposing Raul Grijalva

4th District - Paul Gosar vs Mikel Weisser

5th District - Either Christine Jones or Andy Biggs vs Talia Fuentes

6th District - David Schweikert vs John Williamson

7th District - Ruben Gallego vs Eve Nunez

8th District - No Candidate opposting Trent Franks

9th District - Kyrsten Sinema vs Dave Gile

Members of Arizona State Government

Doug Ducey (R) elected in 2014. His term expires January 2019

The Governor serves as the CEO of the executive branch. The executive department consists of: governor, secretary of state, treasurer, attorney general & superintendent of public instruction.

Duties and privileges of the office:
  • ensuring all laws of Arizona are faithfully upheld
  • transacting all state business within the executive branch, including ordering reports & information from other executive officers
  • granting reprieves, commutation, and pardons, after convictions, for all offenses except treason and cases of impeachment
  • approving, or vetoing, all bills passed by the legislature
  • appointing someone to fill vacancies in all state offices where a manner for filling a vacancy is not already provided for by law
  • issuing, signing, and sealing all commissions granted by the state and delivering them to Secretary of State, who will attest to them

The governor has a line-item veto on money appropriations, but otherwise the veto power and procedure is the same as for the President of the United States. However, he cannot veto emergency measures or bills that were voted for by the people in a referendum.

The governor is the commander of the state's National Guard except when it is placed under federal control.

He may call the legislature into extraordinary session and must appear before the legislature at least once during each session to deliver a "State of the State" address, commenting on Arizona's political and economic situation and laying out his policies for the coming year.

Article 5 Section 7 of the AZ State Constitution explains how bills become law.

Michele Reagan (R) elected in 2014. Her term expires January 2019.

The Arizona Secretary of State is our chief election officer. Responsibilities include certifying: candidates, ballot measures & election results. Registering lobbyists; training election officials; testing voting devices; publishing state laws & oversees the registration of business partnerships and trademarks in Arizona.

Arizona's Secretary of State also serves as acting governor when the governor is absent or unable to serve. This duty is usually fulfilled by the lieutenant governor in other states, an office which Arizona lacks.

Mark Brnovich (R) elected in 2014. His term expires January 2019

The Attorney General of Arizona is the chief legal officer of the state of Arizona and head of the Arizona Department of Law.

The Attorney General's Office represents and provides legal advice to most State agencies; enforces consumer protection and civil rights laws; and prosecutes criminals charged with complex financial crimes and certain conspiracies involving illegal drugs. In addition, all appeals statewide from felony convictions are handed down by this Office.

The Child and Family Protection Division provides legal services to the Department of Economic Security (DES), including the Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) and the Department of Child Safety.

The Attorney General’s Office brings and defends lawsuits on behalf of the State and prepares formal legal opinions requested by State officers, legislators, or county attorneys on issues of law.

The Attorney General’s Office has jurisdiction over Arizona's Consumer Fraud Act, white collar crime, organized crime, public corruption, environmental laws, civil rights laws, and crimes committed in more than one county. Additionally, this Office prosecutes cases normally handled by county attorneys when they have a conflict.

Jeff DeWit (R) elected in 2014. His term expires January 2019

The State Treasurer manages Arizona’s $13.4 billion investment portfolio, protects taxpayer money & directs the state’s banking services.

The State Treasurer serves as Chairman of Arizona’s State Board of Investment, and State Loan Commission. He also serves as the State’s Surveyor General and is a member of the State Land Selection Board and is third in line in succession to the Governor.


The State Treasurer serves as Arizona’s Chief Banker and Investment Officer. While not a bank itself, the Treasurer’s Office must authorize payments and balance accounts. To protect taxpayers’ money, the State Treasurer maintains a separate accounting system to provide a check and balance on the state accounting system, and distributes investment earnings to the proper funds.


Bidding for state banking services contracts is open to all qualified Arizona banks. Bank of America is the current servicing bank for the Office of the Arizona State Treasurer. For state agency locations that are not in the proximity of a state servicing bank branch, the Treasurer’s Office also maintains a working relationship with Bank of the West, JPMorgan Chase, National Bank of Arizona, Wells Fargo, and Zions Bank.


The Office of the Arizona State Treasurer does not manage Pension, Unclaimed Property, Income Tax, Property Tax or Tax Lien issues.

Joe Hart (R) elected in 2010. Re-elected in 2014. His term expires in January 2019

  • The mine inspector shall inspect, at least once every three months, every active underground mine in the state employing fifty or more persons, and at least once each year, every other mine. The inspector shall inspect the operation, conditions, safety appliances, machinery, equipment, sanitation and ventilation, the means of ingress and egress, the means taken to protect the lives, health and safety of the miners, the cause of accidents and deaths occurring at the mine and the means taken to comply with provisions of this title.
  • The mine inspector may enter and inspect any abandoned or inactive mine to determine whether any dangerous condition exists which may affect the health and safety of the general public.
  • The inspector reviews proposed reclamation plans and supports the Mine Safety and Health Education Training Program.


  • Tom Forese (R) elected in 2014. His term expires in 2019
  • Doug Little (R) elected in 2014. His term expires in 2019
Currently running for election this year. The top 3 will join Tom Forese and Doug Little:
  • Tom Chabin (D) First time running for this position
  • William Mundell (D) Previously held office 1999-2009
  • Boyd Dunn (R) First time running for this position
  • Bob Burns (R) Elected in 2014 running for re-election
  • Andy Tobin (R) Appointed in 2016 running for re-election

Arizona Corporation Commission
Arizona Corporation Commission
Article 15 of the Arizona Constitution establishes the Arizona Corporation Commission.

In most states, the Commission is known as the Public Service Commission or the Public Utility Commission. Our Commission, however, has responsibilities that go beyond traditional public utilities regulation. These additional roles include facilitating the incorporation of businesses and organizations, securities regulation and railroad/pipeline safety.

By virtue of the Arizona Constitution, the Commissioners function in an Executive capacity, they adopt rules and regulations thereby functioning in a Legislative capacity, and they also act in a Judicial capacity sitting as a tribunal and making decisions in contested matters.

The Commission is required by the Arizona Constitution to maintain its chief office in Phoenix and it is required by law to conduct monthly meetings


The Arizona Corporation Commission has jurisdiction over the quality of service and rates charged by public service utilities. By state law, public service utilities are regulated monopolies given the opportunity to earn a fair and reasonable return on their investments. What is fair and reasonable in any particular case has been and always will be open to debate in rate hearings before the Commission. Generally, the Commission tries to balance the customers' interest in affordable and reliable utility service with the utility's interest in earning a fair profit. The Utilities Division makes specific recommendations to the Commissioners to assist them in reaching decisions regarding public utility rates, utility finance and quality of service. The Division is responsible for researching and developing utility issues, providing information and evidence in Commission proceedings dealing with utility applications, and monitoring the quality of utility service, and the rates approved by the Commissioners. Additionally, Division staff inspects gas pipelines for safety, operates a railroad safety program and maintains the official documents of proceedings before the Commission.

All rate changes require approval of the Commission in an Open Meeting. Staff preparation for a major rate hearing begins at the time of utility's initial filing, and takes approximately four to six months before the hearing takes place. Work efforts between the time of filing and hearing include a review of past Commission actions, a review of documents on file with the Commission, an audit of the books and records of the utility, discussions with utility personnel and other interested parties, formulation of the staff recommendation, an analysis of the impacts of the recommendation, and preparation of written testimony and schedules.


The Corporations Division approves for filing all articles of incorporation for Arizona businesses; all articles of organization for limited liability companies; grants authority to foreign corporations to transact business in this state; propounds interrogatories when necessary to determine a company's lawful purpose; and revokes the corporate charters of those corporations which choose to not comply with Arizona law. The Division collects from every corporation an annual report which reflects its current status, business, and financial condition; maintains this information in a format conducive to public access; responds to public questions concerning Arizona businesses and corporation law; and responds to the needs of the business sector by disseminating whatever information is mission-critical to them in the most expedient and cost-effective manner possible.

Any significant changes to Articles of Incorporation or Articles of Organization for Limited Liability Companies in the form of amendments, mergers, consolidations, dissolutions or withdrawals are also filed with the Division. All filings are public record and available for inspection.


The Legal Division provides legal assistance, advice and representation to the Commissioners and each Division of the Corporation Commission except the Securities Division. Matters handled by the Legal Division fall into five general categories: Commission dockets, Federal regulatory dockets, litigation, other administrative matters and special projects.

Most of the Division's resources are devoted to Commission hearings. Major rate cases, such as those involving firms like the Arizona Public Service Company and Qwest, where tens of millions of dollars in potential rate increases are at stake, take several months to prepare and require close coordination with the Commissioners, staff and professional consultants.


The Pipeline Safety Section enforces Pipeline safety standards and operating practices applicable to the transportation of gas and hazardous liquids by pipeline and the operation of liquefied natural gas facilities. Inspections are conducted on all interstate gas transmission and interstate hazardous liquid pipeline facilities.

The Railroad Safety Section enforces the Federal Safety Standards for track, signal, motive power and equipment, railroad operating practices, and the shipment of hazardous material by rail. The Railroad Safety Section is also responsible for inspection and review of industrial track, and rail-highway crossing construction projects.


The Securities Division strives to ensure the integrity of the securities marketplace through investigative actions as well as the registration and/or oversight of securities, securities dealers and brokers, investment advisers and their representatives; to enhance legitimate capital formation; and to minimize the burden and expense of regulatory compliance by legitimate business. The Division reviews prospective offerings of securities to ascertain that full and fair disclosure is made to potential securities investors and that the terms of offerings are not inherently fraudulent.

Certain securities dealers, salespersons, investment advisers, and investment adviser representatives are required to register with the Division. The Division reviews these applications and monitors the conduct of investment advisers, dealers and salespersons; investigates possible violations; and when the evidence warrants, initiates administrative or civil actions, or refers cases for criminal prosecution.