Nov 4, 2022 - News

Maricopa County "prepared for anything" on Election Day

Photos of Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger, Maricopa County Arizona Board of Supervisors chairman Bill Gates and Michigan secretary of state Jocelyn Benson

From left, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images), Maricopa County Board of Supervisors chairman Bill Gates (Jeremy Duda/Axios) and Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (Dominick Sokotoff/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Top election officials in Arizona, Georgia and Michigan say they're confident that they're prepared for problems that may arise from people questioning, challenging or delegitimizing the vote-counting process.

Driving the news: Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D), Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates (R) and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) spoke with reporters Thursday about issues that have arisen with the 2022 election so far and their preparations for anything that may come up on Election Day or beyond.

  • The virtual event was organized by the nonprofit Center for Election Innovation & Research.
  • Arizona, Georgia and Michigan were among the states where false claims about the 2020 election were most prevalent, and Benson, Gates and Raffensperger have all been prominent defenders of their states' voting systems.

Why it matters: Voters and election workers in some places, including Arizona, have already faced harassment and intimidation this year, and election officials are anticipating attempts to disrupt the voting process on and after Election Day.

State of play: In Arizona, a federal judge on Tuesday imposed restrictions on self-appointed monitors who have harassed and intimidated voters at drop boxes.

  • Gates said at the event that some individual election workers still regularly face false accusations that they acted illegally or improperly during the 2020 election.
  • Benson said she's seen an increase in vitriol and lawsuits surrounding the administration of the election.

What we're watching: The lengthy vote-counting process in Arizona and the likelihood that several major races will be close could inspire disinformation campaigns after Election Day, Gates said, but the county is ready to publicly correct the record with regular press conferences if that occurs.

  • Benson said she anticipates problems at Detroit's Huntington Place convention center, where absentee ballots will be counted.
  • The facility has tightened its security protocols since the 2020 election, she said, such as by requiring anyone who enters the building to be credentialed.
  • Benson also expects that some local election boards will refuse to certify election results, but that certification will ultimately be imposed by the courts in those situations.

Zoom out: In all three states, the officials said there has been increased cooperation and communication between election officials and law enforcement compared with 2020.

  • Raffensperger said 85 of Georgia's 159 counties now use a poll worker protection texting tool that allows poll managers to immediately report problems to election and law enforcement officials.
  • Maricopa County's primary security focus is at the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center (MCTEC), where hundreds of people who questioned the 2020 results gathered for days two years ago. The facility is now fenced off and the view from the sidewalk is obscured, and the supervisors and recorder are communicating regularly with the sheriff's office.
  • Gates said the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office has talked about placing plainclothes deputies at voting centers, but that the county wants those to be "welcoming places."

What they're saying: "We are prepared for anything," Gates said.

1 good omen: Raffensperger said things have run smoothly in Georgia so far, noting that there have been few problems and that major party candidates have all committed to accepting the results of the election.


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