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Maricopa County works to make Primary Election Day run smoothly

Posted at 6:06 PM, Aug 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-04 08:52:49-04

PHOENIX — The Maricopa County Recorder's office has made several changes to ensure that things that went wrong on Election Day in 2018 won't happen again.

"Here is the reality. The system we had in place at that time does not exist anymore," said County Recorder Adrian Fontes.

From long lines to technical problems with machines, printing problems, and building access issues, election officials were scrambling to find solutions throughout the day.

Fontes said, this time around, they are using the Voter Center Model with more than 100 locations open throughout the county.

Since people are able to vote at any of these voting centers, regardless of where they live, election officials do not anticipate long lines.

"We also have more control over our locations. We have no last second vote center changes, so we can keep these places open because we are now leasing these spaces. We've got the locks and keys, and we don't have to depend on others to make sure they're open on time for our voters," said Fontes.

Over the last couple years, Fontes said he had taken part in roundtable discussions and town hall meetings with voters from all over the county to find out what concerns voters had.

Plans for this year's Presidential Election were thrown out the window when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March.

The current health crisis has left county and state officials with the challenging task of putting public health and safety front and center at all voting locations.

"You know it's funny we sometimes say we're prepared for anything, except Godzilla, and you can put in parentheses the global pandemic now," said Fontes.

The state has seen problems in Pinal County with voters stating some of their ballots had an entire race missing.

Officials say there was a problem with how information was entered in the GIS mapping software.

"The GIS process is very complex. It involves multiple people and agencies, so there could be a lot of different issues that led to this," said Secretary of State Katie Hobbs.

State officials tell ABC15 Pinal County had to reissue 400 ballots as a result of this.

Maricopa County has also had some problems with voter registration issues, involving voters who registered to vote using AZ MVDNOW around April.

State officials say this led to more than 1,300 voters in Maricopa County and more than 2,000 voters statewide being red flagged by the system as "needing more information." Those people did not receive ballots.

Those impacted will be able to fill out a paper form. State and county officials tell ABC15 their initial applications to register to vote will be honored, so they will not lose out on the chance to vote in August.

A spokeswoman with the Secretary of State's office says this is a good reminder for everyone to check their voter registration status online before heading to the polls.

In addition to poll watchers assigned by both parties, a new group called "Election Protection Arizona" is also helping serve as watchdogs this election season.

They call themselves democracy defenders. Volunteers will be at polling locations throughout the state, and monitoring social media activity online to flag problems.

The group is also putting up signs at polling locations leading voters to several toll-free hotlines they can call to report problems or ask questions on voting day.

Those numbers are:
866-OUR-VOTE - English
888-777-3831 - Native Vote Hotline
888-VE-Y-VOTA - Spanish

The group is also seeking volunteers to help them monitor the November elections. If you would like to get involved. Text “Volunteer” to 59271 to help every Arizonan vote.

You can visit their website here.