ARIZONA NEWS

Report released on cause of Maricopa County Election Day ballot issues

Apr 10, 2023, 12:47 PM | Updated: 1:32 pm

An election worker verifies a ballot on a screen inside the Maricopa County Recorders Office, Thurs...

An election worker verifies a ballot on a screen inside the Maricopa County Recorders Office, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York, File)

(AP Photo/Matt York, File)

PHOENIX — The findings of an independent investigation into 2022 Election Day ballot-printing issues in Maricopa County were released Monday.

The investigators, led by former Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Ruth McGregor, concluded that the size and weight of the paper used for on-demand ballot creation required the printers to “perform at the extreme edge of their capability, a level that could not be reliably sustained by a substantial number of printers.”

Election officials had no way of knowing about the potential issues in advance, according to the 38-page report.

“Nothing we learned in our interviews or document reviews gave any clear indication that the problems should have been anticipated,” the report says.

The same Oki B432 printers worked fine during the 2022 primary election with 100-pound paper for 19-inch ballots. But the county changed the size of the ballots to 20 inches for the Nov. 8 general election in order to fit all the races and legally required information.

The size/weight combination made it harder for the printers’ fusers to get hot enough to fuse the toner to the paper properly, according to the report.

“This report is exactly what we needed, an unbiased analysis of what happened and a range of recommendations for what to do next,” County Supervisor Jack Sellers said in a press release.

“Whether it’s replacing printers, using different paper or changing the way we test equipment before an election, you can be sure our board will take any steps necessary to ensure in-person voters have the experience they deserve in 2024.”

The county used 80-pound paper in 2020 but increased the weight to 100 pounds, in part, in response to concerns about bleed-through affecting tabulation. The report said reverting back to 80-pound paper would be a way to avoid a repeat of the printing mishap, but acknowledged that it might not go over well with some voters.

“Given the prior ‘SharpieGate’ experience, however, whether that change can be made without reducing public confidence is an issue,” the report says.

Tabulators had trouble reading completed ballots at around 70 of the county’s 223 voting centers on Election Day, officials said. By that afternoon, technicians were able to fix the problem by adjusting the toner settings on the printers.

Voters who had issues were given the option of using a different voting location or putting their completed ballots into a secure compartment built into the tabulators. Those ballots were later collected by election workers and taken to be tallied at the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center.

County officials say all the submitted ballots were accurately counted.

The printer problems have been the focus of arguments in thus-far unsuccessful lawsuits from Republicans Kari Lake and Abraham Hamadeh, who lost races for governor and attorney general, respectively.

In early January, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors hired McGregor to lead an independent probe into the printer issues.

“The MCAO [Maricopa County Attorney’s Office] and Maricopa County Board of Supervisors made it clear at the outset that this investigation should be independent and free of any outside influence,” the report says. “We have encountered nothing during the investigation that appeared intended to or that did undermine the independence of the investigation.”

McGregor was appointed to the Arizona Supreme Court by Republican Gov. Jane Dee Hull in 1998 and retired in 2009. She was chief justice from 2005 until she retired.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

MIAMI, FL - OCTOBER 14:  In this handout photo provided by One Voice: Somos Live!, Marc Anthony per...

David Veenstra

Marc Anthony’s ‘Historia Tour’ continues with Phoenix show

Marc Anthony is bringing his “Historia Tour" to Phoenix this fall. The top selling salsa artist will perform at Footprint Center on Oct.  27. 

11 minutes ago

Arizona wildfire protection plans get $7M in federal support...

Serena O'Sullivan

Arizona wildfire protection plans get $7 million in support from USDA Forest Service

The Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management said $7 million in grants will support various Arizona wildfire protection plans.

21 minutes ago

Bulk trash collection program in Phoenix offers appointment model...

Serena O'Sullivan

Phoenix to offer new appointment-based program for bulk trash collection

Do you rely on preset trash collection dates to clean house? A new bulk trash collection program offers residents more flexibility.

30 minutes ago

(Facebook Photo/Phoenix Police Department)...

KTAR.com

Phoenix man and woman found dead inside garage

A local man and woman were found dead inside a garage in a north Phoenix home on Monday morning, according to authorities.

8 hours ago

File photo of a Phoenix Police cruiser with yellow crime scene tape...

KTAR.com

Phoenix woman arrested after stabbing her boyfriend to death

A woman stabbed her boyfriend to death in Phoenix and was arrested after turning herself in on Sunday afternoon, according to authorities

8 hours ago

File photo of a Phoenix Police cruiser with yellow crime scene tape...

Sponsored Content by

A woman stabbed her boyfriend to death in Phoenix and was arrested after turning herself in on Sunday afternoon, according to authorities

Sponsored Articles

...

DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

Report released on cause of Maricopa County Election Day ballot issues