Maricopa County begins tabulating early ballots

Election generic
Posted at 3:54 PM, Oct 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-26 15:37:27-04

PHOENIX — The Maricopa County Elections Department says more than 748,000 early ballots have been processed and are ready to be tabulated.

Tabulations began on October 20, which marks a state-law mandated start date of two weeks before the general election.

ABC15 observed as election workers moved ballots through each of the three security steps required for early ballots to be counted during a media availability on Wednesday.

After ballot envelopes are scanned, workers match the signatures with those that were used for voter registration.

"So if you register to vote, when you signed up for your driver's license, then that's the first signature that we look at," said Erika Flores, Deputy Director of Communications for the Maricopa County Elections Department.

She said if those signatures don't match, the case goes to a manager, "that can use forensic analysis to check that signature and see the different angles of your signature."

If there are still questions about the signature, Flores says an election worker will call the phone number you wrote on your ballot. They also text or email if you have signed up to receive notifications that way.

The next step is the ballot processing room. Each table has a team of two people from differing parties that separates the verified envelopes from the ballot to keep it secret and prepare them to move to a third location where they will be counted.

"They count the ballots through these tabulation machines. And then the results are stored in the server the secure server until Election Day," Flores said.

Other security measures include tabulation room access restricted only to employees that are assigned to tabulation, a fire-proof vault where counted ballots are stored in the event of a recount, and live cameras throughout the rooms where voters can watch what is happening in real-time.

In-person early voting ballots go through the same process according to Flores, no ballot results of any kind are released until election night, November 3 beginning at 8 p.m.