Voters encountered problems casting their ballots at 70 of the 223 vote centers in Maricopa County on Election Day, November 8, 2022, resulting in long lines and concerns that ballots ended up not tabulated or “misread,” and commingled with ballots that had already been tabulated. Averaged together, the problems occurred in areas where Election Day voting was more than 300 percent Republican versus Democrat. Of those 70 precincts affected, 59 were in heavily Republican-voting areas, and two were Republican-leaning but not heavily, with only nine from Democrat-leaning or solidly Democrat areas.
Arizona Corporation Commissioner Jim O’Connor, who has led the effort to stop the use of electronic voting machine tabulators, said that county officials must resign due to the problems. “Voters of all political parties have been damaged with the gross incompetence or worse conducted by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, County Recorder and Election Director of the 2022 General Election,” he told The Arizona Sun Times. “Reports continue to flood in detailing abuses of voters and our once trusted election procedures. I encourage current office holders at the County to resign immediately. Should they fail to do so immediately, a recall needs to be undertaken after the first of the new year.”
Shortly after the problematic election, O’Connor called for all the Maricopa County Supervisors and Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer to resign. Maricopa County Member-at-Large Brian Ference wants Richer and Bill Gates, chair of the Maricopa County Supervisors, to resign. Robert Canterbury, who unsuccessfully ran against Maricopa County Supervisor Clint Hickman in 2020, is considering starting a recall against Gates.
Republicans barely have an edge over Democrats for voter registration throughout Maricopa County, 34.67 percent to 30.66 percent.
A factor contributing to the disproportionate effect the tabulation problem had affecting Republicans more than Democrats was the high number of Republicans voting in-person on election day, in contrast to Democrats who voted heavily by early ballot. At 4:30 p.m., ABC-15 Data Analyst Garrett Archer tweeted that 54 percent of voters so far that day were Republicans versus 16 percent Democrat voters, which means there were well over 350 percent more Republicans than Democrats. Independents and Libertarians made up the rest.
While officials initially claimed only 20 percent of locations were affected, that was revised at least 50 percent more than that, 31 percent — or 70 of the 223 vote centers established by the county – that were open on election day. Kari Lake and her campaign, who believe that number may be even higher, constituting 52 percent of the locations, responded to a tweet from Rasmussen Reports about the numbers, “The tabulators in Maricopa County worked 100% of the time during an early voting season that heavily favors the @azdemparty. They worked just 52% of the time on Election Day for the @AZGOP. Maricopa Count[y] consists of 62% of Arizona. This election was broken.”
The tabulators in Maricopa County worked 100% of the time during an early voting season that heavily favors the @azdemparty.
They worked just 52% of the time on Election Day for the @AZGOP.
Maricopa Country consists of 62% of Arizona.
This election was broken. https://t.co/rIb97AIryU
— Kari Lake War Room (@KariLakeWarRoom) November 18, 2022
Archer tweeted that the 57 percent of the voting locations affected were located in Republican leaning precincts, but did not provide any in-depth analysis. The Kari Lake War Room Twitter account responded to the brief description, “Man, when you break it down like that they only kind of screwed us,” accompanied by an animated gif of a man swaggering walking with a barrel of water.
Man, when you break it down like that they only kind of screwed us. pic.twitter.com/cDfbdXMYlV
— Kari Lake War Room (@KariLakeWarRoom) November 18, 2022
A Twitter user named Zentrification responded and said, “thousands, possibly tens of thousands, were unable to vote due to all the problems in Maricopa.” Archer tweeted back, “We will not have statistical proof of this until the election is complete and voter histories are added.”
The Washington Post claimed that the proportion of Republicans in the districts that were affected was 37 percent, not much more than the countywide average of 35 percent. The article did not explain how it came to those numbers.
Democrats have not come within four points of Republicans for voter registration in Maricopa County in many years. During the general election, Republicans made up 34.67 percent, Democrats 30.66 percent, independents 33.89 percent, and Libertarians .78 percent. Similarly, Republicans have hovered with about four percent higher voter registration than Democrats at the state level for several years.
ABC-15 created a map showing the 70 locations. County officials claim the tabulator problems only affected about 17,000 ballots. The explanation for the tabulation problems has changed over days, mostly coming down to the printers being set to an incorrect setting causing the tabulation machines not to recognize the ballots printed on election day from them.
There were no similar problems reported in the days leading up to the election, when voters arrived at the polling locations to vote early (favoring Democrats), nor on the night before the election when all of the machines and printers went through testing.
Ballots that had problems being tabulated were placed into “Door 3” boxes. However, there are many reports that the ballots were often commingled with ballots that had already been counted or placed into unsecured black satchels when the Door 3 boxes ran out of room. Some of them ended up with errors since voters used the wrong pen, which wasn’t caught due to never going through the tabulator properly, or using checkmarks for candidates instead of filling in the ovals.
Some voters left the problematic locations to find another polling location, only to be told they couldn’t vote again since they had already voted. If they were offered a provisional ballot, some report checking after the election on beballotready.vote to see if their ballot had been counted and discovered that it had not.
Many people work from home currently, or were able to work from home on election day in order to make sure they had time to vote, so the type of people voting in each polling center was fairly likely to represent the people who live around it.
Tabulation of the Door 3 ballots finished Saturday evening. There were 3,359 estimated ballots remaining from around the state, all in Maricopa County. While the races for Attorney General and Superintendent of Schools appear close enough to trigger a mandatory automatic recount, within 0.5 percent apart, the governor’s race is separated by 0.6 percent, just over the threshold. Lake, who unsuccessfully filed a lawsuit to stop the use of electronic voting machine tabulators in the election, has said her campaign is working on lawsuits.
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Rachel Alexander is a reporter at The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Rachel on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Processing Absentee Ballots” by Lance Fisher. CC BY-SA 2.0.