County under a cloud: Maricopa’s decade-long history of election issues, from 2012 to 2022

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Maricopa County’s handling of elections in 2022 is “yet another disgrace in a long line of disgraces,” said Arizona state Rep. Mark Finchem.

As voters, poll workers, and observers have voiced their concerns about issues they witnessed on Election Day in Maricopa County, Ariz., a review of the county’s history shows 10 years of election issues under various election officials.

Numerous issues occurred at vote centers on Election Day in Maricopa County earlier this month, from election machine problems to hours-long lines, according to widespread reports. However, election issues are not unique to the 2022 midterms in Maricopa, as some began a decade ago.

During the 2012 presidential general election in Maricopa County, key races went undecided for two weeks after Election Day as a result of “record numbers of provisional and early ballots” remaining uncounted after polls closed, according to the Arizona Republic. The outlet said that “Arizona was embarrassed on the national stage.”

In the 2014 midterm election, despite a decrease in voter turnout, there were still days-long delays in counting early votes, attributable to most of the counties in Arizona stopping their count of early ballots between 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. the Monday before an election to prepare for Election Day, the Arizona Republic reported. As a result, mailed-in early ballots that arrive after that time and early ballots hand-delivered on Election Day have to wait to be counted.

During the 2014 election, more than 75% of the 34,000 valid provisional ballots were cast by voters who went to the polls anyway, even after receiving their early ballot, according to the Republic. (The outlet noted that this was also an issue during the 2012 election.)

Despite a new e-poll system that was designed to direct voters to their correct polling location if they arrived at the wrong one, there were still 2,800 provisional ballots cast at incorrect polling locations in 2014.

“With e-poll books, theoretically that number should be zero,” the Maricopa County Recorder’s spokesperson said at the time, according to the Republic.

By Natalia Mittelstadt

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