Nov 29, 2022 - Politics

Maricopa County addresses complaints while certifying election

Illustration of a magnifying glass over a “I voted” sticker

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Voter turnout this year was the second highest Maricopa County has seen in a midterm election over the past 40 years.

State of play: Scott Jarrett, the county's director of Election Day and emergency voting, told the Board of Supervisors during his presentation at Monday's canvass meeting that turnout was 64.2%.

  • The only midterm election since at least 1982 that had higher turnout was 2018, when 64.5% of registered voters cast ballots.
  • The rest of the state had 60% turnout, Jarrett said.

Driving the news: The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors approved its canvass after a long meeting that included about two hours of mostly angry comments from members of the public.

  • Some people criticized the county for the printer problems that prevented tabulators from accepting ballots at some voting centers.
  • Others espoused conspiracy theories about the election being rigged, demanded a new vote and condemned the supervisors and county Recorder Stephen Richer in harsh terms.
  • Board chair Bill Gates threatened to remove people from the meeting room on several occasions due to outbursts.

Between the lines: Jarrett addressed some of the issues and concerns that speakers raised during the public comment period, including printer problems, wait times, the lengthy counting process and federal certification of the tabulation machines.

Printers: Gates and Jarrett emphasized that all 16,724 ballots that the tabulators couldn't read due to printer issues were ultimately counted.

Wait times: Jarrett said the average wait time at voting centers was three to six minutes and the wait time was 15 minutes or less at 114 locations.

  • 18 had wait times of 46-60 minutes, while 16 had average wait times of more than an hour.

Ballot counting: Despite widespread criticism over the length of time it took to count ballots, Jarrett noted that the 13 days was on par with the county's average since 2006.

  • In some previous years, it took 15 or 17 days, and that was before counties were required to give voters five business days after the election to rectify the situation if election workers were unable to verify their identities through the signatures on their early ballot envelopes.

Meanwhile: The Cochise County Board of Supervisors refused to certify its canvass. It scheduled another meeting for Friday, when it wants to hear from the Secretary of State's Office about accreditation for the tabulation machines the county uses.

  • The decision followed weeks of drama over the supervisors' attempt to hand-count all ballots, which a court found to be illegal.
  • Cochise is the only one of Arizona's 15 counties that failed to certify its results on time.
  • The Secretary of State's Office and the Arizona Alliance of Retired Americans separately sued the county Monday to force certification.
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