Maricopa County recorder proposing ways to speed up vote count
PHOENIX — Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer said he plans to propose changes to Arizona election laws that would speed up the ballot tabulation system.
“We haven’t changed the system materially since 1992, and yet after every single election we say we want results faster,” Richer told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show on Thursday.
“And that I think is true across the board, and this doesn’t make you an election conspiracy theorist or anything.”
With Arizona in the national spotlight as a battleground state, Richer said the time it takes to count all the ballots under current system is hurting the state’s reputation.
Maricopa County’s ballot tally for the Nov. 8 general election wasn’t completed until nearly two weeks after Election Day. The state’s largest county, and last to finish counting, had to process a record 275,000 early ballots that were dropped off on Election Day.
Richer said he’s working to propose the changes to the state Legislature and will have them ready at the beginning of the 2023 session.
“We cannot be solving this problem without talking about those ‘late early’ ballots,” he said.
To combat current issues, including wait times for election results, the county recorder said he has a few ideas in mind that may be able to navigate around those problems.
“I think we should simply do what Florida does and simply ask that early ballots be returned early,” Richer said.
“I’m proposing that all early ballots have to be returned by 5 p.m. on Saturday. Then we could have a much higher percentage of results available on election night and we would know who has won the vast majority of those contests.”
Another idea from other states is to use tabulation machines on-site during the early voting period, not just on Election Day. That’s especially relevant after Maricopa County experienced issues with on-site tabulation issues that were resolved by changing printer settings.
“So nothing’s brand new on Election Day, which will hopefully help for a smoother process moving forward,” Richer said.