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Maricopa County elections office begins task of counting early ballots

(Maricopa County Elections Department Photo)

PHOENIX – Vote counting on early ballots in Maricopa County began Tuesday, two weeks before Election Day.

“I think we’re going to be in very good shape,” County Recorder Adrian Fontes said Tuesday on KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show.

The elections department reported more than 645,000 ballots were ready for processing.

The fall general is Nov. 3, but early voting started Oct. 7 in Arizona.

“Turnout is amazing. Voters are really coming in early, which is going to make it a lot easier for us to have a much larger portion of the total results reported on Tuesday night,” Fontes said.

“We will always be processing ballots after Election Day, but the more folks vote early, the more ballots that we get in early, we can process them and have that big, big number on election night. That’s what we’re hoping for.”

Fontes said the first batch of unofficial results will be released at 8 p.m., an hour after polls close.

Ballots that arrive before the end of October are expected to be among those ballots included in the initial report, he said.

The numbers compiled by the vote centers will “trickle in” election night, Fontes added. “We usually get 12% reporting, 24% reporting and so on through the evening.”

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and beyond will be spent working on the early ballots that are dropped off on Election Day.

“We still have to signature-verify those,” Fontes said, as well as process and tabulate.

His office isn’t overlyconcerned with the possibility of mail-in fraud.

“We vet every single one of those addresses [on the outside of return ballot envelope] against the national change-of-address database with the the Postal Service,” Fontes said.

The office also sends out mailers to see if they come back if a voter is not longer living at the listed address.

“We’ve got a lot of layers of security,” Fontes said.

“Right now, protecting out democracy is incredibly important for me and my whole operation. We’re paying close attention to all of this.”

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