Election officials feel pressure on Election Day

Posted at 7:47 PM, May 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-17 22:47:32-04

State and county elected officials were feeling the pressure on this special Election Day in Arizona.

While it was a much smaller election than the March Presidential Preferential election, more eyes were watching all of the polling sites in the county.

From the Secretary of State to volunteers from the Democrat and Republican parties, a lot of people were touring the polling sites to look for any problems.

There seemed to be none.  Most polling places had no lines, and voters described the experience as fast and efficient.

Since the March election, the county doubled the number of polling sites from 60 to 116, hired more people, and added more equipment.

Secretary of State Michele Reagan said she had talked to several happy voters, and that's exactly what they had hoped to see.

"We're all in this together.  We had two back-to back state elections so right after the Presidential Preference all 15 county recorders in our office had to turn around and gear up for this one," said Reagan.

Since the last election, Reagan and Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell have both been under a lot of scrutiny.

Reagan was accused of breaking the law, and was facing a call for impeachment.

"That kind of stuff happens.  That rhetoric happens when it comes to elections," said Reagan.

Purcell admitted she woke up feeling like the pressure was on and that voters would have a better experience.

"I certainly felt pressure before the day started.  As we move through the day, naturally, I don't want a repeat of what we had before," said Purcell.

The Maricopa county ballot only had two items on the ballot: Prop 123 to fund education and Prop 124, which funded pensions for police officers and firefighters.

Purcell said the county spent close to $3 million dollars in the March election. They spent about $4 million on the special election.

More money was required not only for more polling places, but to hire people to staff those locations. 

There were also more voters during Tuesday’s election.  In March only 1.3 Million voters registered with the Republican, Democrat, or Green party could vote.  This election was open to about 2 million voters.

The county had 1,400 poll workers, with 12 poll working at each location in addition to 36 trouble shooters.

Purcell said 545,000 people had already mailed in their ballots, but after seeing the turnout today, she would be surprised if voter turnout hit 30 percent.

Despite the smooth voting process on this Election Day, some people ABC15 spoke to said changes still need to be made.

"We cannot forget the mistakes made in March.  We want to make sure there is changes in election policy.  Make sure this never happens again," said Maricopa County Supervisor Steve Gallardo.

He added that the state legislature needed to make sure the State had properly funded elections, and spend more on voter education.

"I would hope we would have even more voting sites in the future.  More than today, even.  Overboard is good.  You can never have too many voting places," said Gallardo.

Results were expected to be released starting at 8 p.m.