Maricopa Officials ‘Committed to Finding Root Cause’ of Tabulator Problems

PHOENIX, ARIZONA, NOVEMBER 08: Bill Gates, Chairman of the Maricopa Board of Supervisors,
John Moore/Getty Images

Update, 2:00 p.m. ET, Thursday: Maricopa Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates and Vice Chairman Clint Hickman said in a statement Wednesday night that “once we get through this election, we are committed to finding the root cause of the” tabulator issues “so that it does not happen again.”

The statement reads in part:

Over the past 24 hours, we have learned more about the printer issue that caused some ballots to not be read at Vote Centers yesterday. While the issue impacted less than 7% of Election Day voters (about 17,000 ballots), we understand that for people who went through it, this was frustrating, inconvenient, and not how they pictured Election Day. We plan to get to the bottom of it.

The printer settings for the Ballot-On-Demand printers at Vote Centers were the same ones we used in the August primary. The paper was the same thickness. Prior to the General Election, the Elections Department test-printed and test-tabulated hundreds of ballots without issue. We are committed to finding out what factors changed that led to issues at 70 Vote Centers on Tuesday. We are grateful to county technicians who found a fix to the problem by adjusting printer settings.

The good news is election administration has built-in redundancies–backup plans when things don’t go as planned. This enables all valid votes to count even if technology, on occasion, fails. Voters impacted by the printer issues had several ways to cast their ballots yesterday, including dropping their completed ballot into a secure box (door 3) on site. These ballots will be verified as legitimate and then tabulated at MCTEC. That process is already underway.

Once we get through this election, we are committed to finding the root cause of the issue so that it does not happen again.

Of note, Maricopa County Recorder tweeted Wednesday night that the “Board will also tabulate any in-person ballots it received yesterday that were not read by the tabulators (approximately 17,000).”

Update, 7:28 p.m. ET: The headline for this story has been revised to reflect the current facts on the ground.

Update, 6:47 p.m. ET: Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richard apologized to “any voter who has been frustrated or inconvenienced today in Maricopa County,” adding that “every legal vote will be tabulated. Broadly speaking, the County Recorder is responsible for voter registration and early voting. The Board of Supervisors is responsible for emergency Voting, Election Day operations, and tabulation,” he added.

The full statement, which was retweeted by Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates, can be read below:

Update, 5:15 p.m. ET: In a pair of tweets, Maricopa officials announced at 1:06 p.m. local time that the county “has identified the solution for the tabulation issues at about 60 Vote Centers. County technicians have changed the printer settings, which seems to have resolved this issue. It appears some of the printers were not producing dark enough timing marks on ballots,” they added. “This solution has worked at 17 locations, and technicians deployed throughout the county are working to resolve this issue at the remaining locations.”

Update: Maricopa County refuted Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk’s claim that there were two-hour waits at most Maricopa County polling places. In a tweet, the county stated that the “vast majority of Vote Centers are seeing wait times under 30 minutes.” Additionally, the county’s Election Department announced that voters who checked into a polling station but wish to cast a ballot in another polling site “must first check out with a poll worker at the SiteBook to return the issued ballot.” It added, “After checking out, the voter will be able to vote at any of our locations. Find them at http://Locations.Maricopa.Vote”.

Some 20 percent of polling locations in Maricopa County, Arizona, are having issues with vote tabulation machines, according to an official.

“In about 20 percent of vote centers… when people will go, and they try and run the ballot through this tabulator, maybe one out of every five or so of those ballots they’re not going through,” Bill Gates, the chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, said on Tuesday morning.

Democrat gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs is in change of Arizona’s elections as Secretary of State.

Turning Point USA’s Tyler Bowyer tweeted a video from a polling location in Anthem, Arizona, early this morning, where one poll worker said a tabulation machine was “taking about 75 percent” of ballots successfully, and another tabulator was completely down.

The poll worker said:

So what happens; we have two tabulators. One of the tabulators is not working, okay. The other tabulator is taking about 75 percent successful, so 25 percent of them are being misread, and it could be a printer issue, or it could be the tabulator itself. So when it’s misread, you have an option to put it into what’s called “Box Three” and it gets read. Whether it goes downtown and gets read manually or whether it gets refed into our tabulators, it will get read. No one’s trying to deceive anyone. 

However,  Dr. Kelli Ward, the Republican Party of Arizona Chairwoman, urged voters not to place their ballots in the third box for tabulation, asserting that Maricopa County “will NOT be tabulating ballots downtown today.”

“DO NOT PUT YOUR BALLOT IN ‘BOX 3’ TO BE TABULATED DOWNTOWN,” Ward tweeted. “Maricopa County is not turning on their tabulators downtown today! Make sure you put your ballot into the tabulator yourself & that your ballot is accepted. DON’T PUSH THE GREEN BUTTON as it puts your ballot in ‘Box 3.'”

“If all else fails, ask to use the ACCESSIBLE VOTING DEVICE. Do not leave without voting IN PERSON,” wrote Ward in a follow-up tweet.

She emphasized that once “you’ve signed in at a polling location, you cannot spoil your ballot and go somewhere else.”

She also blasted Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer.

Richer asserted that there were “tabulator issues at a few locations, but the backup plan allows those votes to still be tabulated.”

ABC15 reporter Amelia Fabiano tweeted that there was “an issue with the tabulation machine” at Burton Barr Library in Phoenix. Due to the issue, poll workers reportedly told Fabiano that the location was “a ballot drop off site ONLY currently.”

The official Maricopa County Twitter account informed Fabiano that the issue was due to a password that was “entered too many times so built-in security measures locked the machine.”

“Update: Voters at Burton Barr have three options,” the county tweeted. “They can drop off ballots at door number three, wait for tabulator to come online, or go to another location nearby.”

At 6:09 a.m. local time, the Maricopa County Recorder’s official Twitter account responded to Fabiano’s initial tweet.

“Check in stations are now working at Burton Barr Library,” the office wrote. “Voters who want to vote can use this location.”

Breitbart news reached out to the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office for a precise figure regarding the polling places affected.

“Technical staff are working to resolve an issue with tabulators and investigating the cause,” Special Assistant to the County Recorder Josh Heywood told Breitbart News.

“Voters have a number of options to choose from if the Vote Center is experiencing a problem with a precinct tabulator,” he added.

“People can still check in and then vote their ballot at the voting booth.  Once complete, they can insert their ballot in the secure slot on the ballot box where it will be counted at the Tabulation and Election Center,” said Heywood.

During the primary races in August, election-day issues unfolded in Arizona’s Pinal County. Ward and Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel put out a statement noting their “poll observer program documented and reported multiple failures by Pinal County’s Elections Administrator, including 63,000 mail-in ballots delivered to the wrong voters and multiple Republican-heavy precinct locations running out of ballots.”

Pinal County Elections Director David Frisk was subsequently removed from his post.


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