ARIZONA NEWS

Maricopa County investigating voting issues during primary election

Sep 5, 2018, 3:15 PM | Updated: Sep 7, 2018, 3:46 pm
A man exits his polling station for voting in the Arizona primary in Tempe, Ariz.  (AP Photo/Matt Y...
A man exits his polling station for voting in the Arizona primary in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)
(AP Photo/Matt York)

PHOENIX — The Maricopa County Recorder’s Office will launch an investigation into the problems that voters endured during last week’s primary election.

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors voted Wednesday to move forward with an outside review of the processes done by the recorder’s office for planning and executing the primary election day activities. It was expected to cost $200,000.

In a Facebook Live video on Tuesday, Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes broke his silence to talk about the voting problems that caused more than 60 polling places to not open on time, saying he wants to be as transparent as possible going forward.

“We had some problems… The biggest and most important thing that I want to talk about is how we did not deliver for all our voters,” Fontes said in the video.

Sixty-two polling places did not open on time on Aug. 28 because the voter verification machinery had not been set up. They were all up and running by noon that day.

At the time, Fontes said the contractor hired to connect the tablet-like devices did not send enough workers to complete the job on time. The contractor insisted it dispatched more people than the county requested.

But during the Tuesday video, Fontes admitted that the recorder’s office was aware of some technical difficulties that were happening at different polling locations.

“The company we were working with assured us that they could get more technicians out this morning. That clearly was not the case,” he said.

“We sent folks out to every site that was affected, as fast as we could.”

Voters from across the Valley said in texts to KTAR News 92.3 FM on the day of the election that problems varied from the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office website sending them to the wrong polling place and being turned away once they arrived to locked doors or computers malfunctioning and Wi-Fi not working.

“We feel terrible about folks that may have not had enough time to go from point A to point B to cast a ballot,” Fontes said.

“The questions we have been getting over the last week are great questions. We want to answer those, but we want to answer with accurate facts.”

The Maricopa County Recorder’s Office has created a draft of their incident analysis of the 2018 Arizona primary election for their office.

It will include, among others, a timeline of incidents reported on Aug. 27 and will go through the day’s preparations ahead of the primary.

“It will talk about election day and what our response looked like, how we went through this and what ended up happening as the morning went forward,” Fontes said.

The recorder’s office has also done another analysis with questions and comments sent in from voters on social media.

Fontes said as they start to gather the answers to the questions, they will have a link for the full report.

The results from the investigation and report, Fontes said, will slowly trickle out.

“It was a record-breaking election with more ballots (cast) than ever,” Fontes said. “It will take time to get the answers.”

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Maricopa County investigating voting issues during primary election