245,000 people vote in person in Maricopa County despite tabulation problems, long lines officials say
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5/AP) -- Despite long lines and tabulation issues across the Valley, nearly a quarter of a million people in Maricopa County voted in person on Election Day, officials said on Tuesday night. “People were not denied the right to vote,” Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates told reporters.
Election Day in Arizona’s most populous county wasn’t without its problems. At 60 of the 223 voter centers, there were tabulations issues, and some machines were rejecting ballots. Some printers weren’t producing dark enough timing marks on the ballots. “This was a surprise to everyone,” Gates said. The solution was discovered around 2 p.m., and technicians reportedly fixed all the machines by the time the polls closed. If the ballot wasn’t going through the tabulator, voters had the option of putting it in the secure drop box, or they could check out of the polling place and go to the other 222 voting locations around the county, Gates said. The issue affected an unknown number of ballots in the county.
Some voters also had to wait hours to cast their ballots at polling places because only one of two tabulators were working, with aerial video showing lines wrapped around buildings in the Phoenix area. “We’d like to apologize to voters who were inconvenienced by some of the things that occurred today,” Gates said. “No one was disenfranchised today.”
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Timothy Ryan denied a request from Republicans to keep the polls open, saying that he didn’t see evidence that people were not allowed to vote. The county recorder, Republican Stephen Richer, said he was sorry for the inconvenience. “Every legal vote will be tabulated. I promise,” he said.
Still, the issue at 60 of 223 vote centers in Maricopa County gave rise to conspiracy theories about the integrity of the vote in the pivotal state. Former President Donald Trump, Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and others weighed in to claim that Democrats were trying to subvert the vote of Republicans, who tend to show up in greater numbers in person on Election Day.
Gates said all polling locations were open on time and everyone had a chance to vote until the polls closed at 7 p.m. People in line at 7 p.m. could stay in line and vote. “Even when we had this active issue, still there was no one who came today with a valid ID who was turned away from the polls,” Gates said.
The majority of Arizona counties do not count ballots at polling places. Officials bring the ballots to a central facility for counting. The ballots left in the drop boxes in Maricopa County will be counted at their central site, where far-right groups called for a protest. The county’s main election building, where votes are tabulated, was the scene of protests by hundreds of Trump supporters, some of whom were armed after he lost in 2020. The county has tightened security around the downtown Phoenix building, and the county sheriff has said his department was prepared to handle any issues.
The Maricopa County Elections Department initially reported that about 10% of polling sites, roughly 20 locations, were having issues with the tabulators. In an emergency news conference held Tuesday morning, those figures were later updated to approximately 20%, or about 60 vote center locations. However, affected voters can place their ballots into a secure ballot box that will later be counted.
According to Reuters, on Tuesday, federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency officials told reporters that there is “no specific or credible threat to disrupt election infrastructure.” At this time, there is nothing explicitly tying any threats or problems to Arizona’s election processes.
On Monday afternoon, the Department of Justice announced that federal election monitors were sent to Maricopa, Navajo, Pima, Pinal, and Yavapai counties to ensure “compliance.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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