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Arizona elections officials ensure accessible voting for at-risk voters

(Douglas R. Clifford/Tampa Bay Times via AP, File)

PHOENIX – Arizona elections officials are making it easier for those in hospitals or long-term care facilities to vote amid the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the main resources available to voters who cannot go to the polls and need assistance getting a ballot or voting are special election boards.

“This is access for all eligible voters,” Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes said during a press conference Thursday.

Fontes explained special election boards are composed of two people of different political parties who assist a voter who otherwise would not have access to the ballot. 

These boards are allowed under federal law but not required. So far, the county has received 144 requests for assistance from a special election board according to Fontes.

During the August primary election, the board assisted 10 voters with completing their ballots.

“If you’re in a long-term care facility and under quarantine, you can now have someone come and assist you and administer the ballot,” Fontes said, citing the use of video conferencing tools.

“We now have clear guidance from the courts that we can use the video teleconference ballot administration that we used in prior elections.”

Earlier this month, a judge ruled to allow boards to use video conferencing to assist at-risk voters cast ballots, if necessary.

Election officials recommend those who cannot vote in person, but do not require a special election board, request a ballot-by-mail by Oct. 23 at 5 p.m.

A special election board can be requested in Maricopa County at 602-506-1511 or by email at voterinfo@risc.maricopa.gov.

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