Early voting is in full swing in Arizona. Security is a top priority for voters this election cycle as more people around the nation request mail-in ballots during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes tells ABC15 there are many safety and security measures in place to ensure the integrity of your vote.
"We have got citizens watching each other and maintaining integrity in the system all the time. Those are just citizens like you or me," said Fontes.
He added that they relied on information from the community to discover problems in the system. "We really do have a community run election all the time," said Fontes.
Transparency was a big part of the process, as there are many voters out there who are concerned about fraud and political parties influencing the outcome of elections. Fontes walked ABC15 through how you can track your vote and ensure it was received and counted.
"Every time somebody gets one of these ballots in the mail, it has got a bar code on the front of the envelope that gets tracked all the way to your mailbox. When you send it back to us, the green envelope also has a smart bar code, so when you put your ballot into the envelope and you sign it, we can track that all the way through from our printer, to the post office, to the mailbox," said Fontes.
Once received, he added that verifying signatures was a constant process that was taking place.
"We have got folks who work with signature verification every year, all the time. They get trained once every two years by the same people who train the FBI," said Fontes.
Despite the fact that many voters have been mailing in their ballots for decades, this year there has been controversy surrounding the integrity of mail in ballots.
ABC15 asked the Secretary of State's office if there was more potential for fraud with mail in ballots. "It is very important for voters to know that voting by mail is secure," said Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs.
"Vote-by-mail ballots are treated just like any ballot when you go into a polling place. They are tracked when they leave the County Recorder's office and voters can contact the County to make sure their ballot was received. If you are in Maricopa County you can get a text message telling you your vote was received," added Hobbs.
With 76% of Maricopa county voters now signing up to be on the County's permanent early voting list, Fontes said it was an indication that voters preferred voting by mail.
"The high turnout in early voting tells us what we already know. Maricopa County votes by mail," said Fontes.
To track your ballot, the Maricopa County Recorder's office has launched a website beballotready.vote. You can sign up to receive text or email alerts here, letting you know when your vote was received and processed.
If you have not mailed your ballot in yet, the deadline was Wednesday to get in the mail, but you can still go to any voting center in Maricopa County to drop it off in person.