What happens to your early ballot after you turn it over to Maricopa County?

As election workers continue midterm election ballot counting, Arizona’s Family is highlighting the process of your early ballot
At last update by county officials, there are still at least 300,000 ballots left to count.
Published: Nov. 11, 2022 at 7:56 AM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- All eyes are on Arizona as election workers in Maricopa County continue to tabulate ballots from the midterm election.

As of Friday morning, there are an estimated 340,000 to 350,000 remaining in the county. More than one million votes have already been counted and reported in what’s the second-largest voting jurisdiction in the country. Officials say the majority of the ballots left are the ballots that dropped off before the deadline on Election Day, as opposed to being mailed in early.

What happens to your ballot when you turn it in in Maricopa County?

With each early ballot there is a process that takes time, election workers say. Arizona has specific election laws officials have to follow and they want to be as careful as possible.

First, the barcode has to be scanned to make sure it links to a registered voter who hasn’t already voted. Then the signature is reviewed.

“Our trained staff are comparing it to all of the signature samples on file. Then it goes into ballot processing and that’s really where the secret ballot is born,” said Megan Gilbertson, the Maricopa County Elections Department Communications Director. “That’s where we’re separating your ballot from the envelope and we can no longer tie those back together.”

It’s a bipartisan processing team reviewing those ballots, making sure the ballot isn’t damaged so they can be ready for tabulation.

Arizona’s Family asked Gilbertson exactly how much time it takes for one ballot to make this cycle, but it’s hard to say. It all depends on the person’s signature and how many ballots are returned in one time, in one day, Gilbertson said.

In a news conference this week, Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer also weighed in on the process. He says the office got roughly 86,000 early ballots on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

“We scanned those in to make sure they all came from valid voters. We made sure that the voter had not voted more than once. And then we signature-verified all of those and they went through the audit cue as well as signature verification,” Richer said..

“Some of the fallout from 2020, which was an administration I was actually not in this office for, was that the signature review process happened too quickly,” he said on Thursday afternoon. “If anything, we have upped the intensity of the process. We have allocated more historic signatures to each level of reviewer. We have increased our training and we have told each reviewer that accuracy is paramount. Not speed.”

The big question remains: when will the counting be done? It’s hard to predict, but the county has confirmed it will be posting election results from 60,000 to 80,000 ballots each night. Hundreds of election workers will be working through Veterans Day and into the weekend. The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman says they are working between 14 and 18 hours a day.

The deadline to have your signature cured is Nov. 16 at 5 p.m. If there is a problem with yours, you will be getting a phone call to fix it. Officials say in the August primary there were 13,000 signatures that did not match.

Here is a link to the website where you can check your ballot status. See the latest election headlines here.