Projected Arizona Secretary of State Fontes wants early voters to do their part before Election Day

Nov 14, 2022, 10:30 AM

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)...

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

PHOENIX – The projected winner in the hotly contested race for Arizona secretary of state said the best way to prevent long days of ballot counting is for early voters to actually vote early.

“Unfortunately, folks like my former opponent [Republican Mark Finchem] were telling people, ‘Don’t trust the system, bring it in on Election Day.’ It clog things up. That’s what really slowed us down this time,” Democrat Adrian Fontes said Monday on KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News.

A record number of early ballots – about 290,000 — were dropped off on Election Day in Maricopa County. They had to be processed and signature-verified before being tabulated, per state law, a process that takes several days with an amount that large.

“Our call is to respect the process,” Fontes said. “I think we give voters the right information, the right timing and these systems are going to operate just fine.

That doesn’t mean the process or system is perfect.

“I think there are several things that need to updated and upgraded,” he said. “I particularly think we’ve got to work on getting vote centers out to some of our more rural counties.”

Fontes said he’d like to be more active helping county election systems, especially in rural areas.

“Maricopa takes up a lot of oxygen in Arizona, but we’ve got folks in small towns everywhere like Heber and Parker and Roll and Quartzsite – they need to have the services that everybody else has.

“Going into rural Arizona and taking care of those folks is going to be one of the big, big differences, I think,” Fontes said.

As of results released Sunday night, Fontes led Finchem by 123,188 votes, a gap the Republican will not be able to close with the number of ballots remaining. The Associated Press called the race Friday.

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Projected Arizona Secretary of State Fontes wants early voters to do their part before Election Day