Maricopa County says 20% of polling places have equipment issues but votes are fine

Maricopa County says 20% of polling places have equipment issues but votes are fine

Gates, chairman of the Maricopa Board of Supervisors, speaks about voting machine malfunctions at the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center on Tuesday in Phoenix, Ariz.

John Moore/Getty Images

John Moore/Getty Images

Follow live updates and results from the 2022 midterm election here.

About 1 in 5 polling locations in Maricopa County, Ariz., were experiencing a technical problem with their ballot tabulator machines in the first hours of Election Day — but officials say the votes will still be counted, thanks to their redundancy protocols.

“We’ve got about 20% of the locations out there where there’s an issue with the tabulator,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates said in a video update posted online. Describing the problem, he said that after some voters fill out their ballot, the machine won’t accept it.

The issue was quickly used by right-leaning influencers as fuel for their claims that the 2022 midterms are vulnerable to election fraud, according to the Election Integrity Partnership, a research coalition that focuses on misinformation around elections.

“Attention spiked after a tweet from Charlie Kirk, which fueled others who allege that these machine failures are deliberate,” the research group said.

“There is high likelihood that these narratives around machine malfunctions will gain traction in other states,” the Election Integrity Partnership said, adding that influencers and their audiences are looking to amplify such stories.

Election officials are working on a solution, Gates said. In the meantime, voters can slide their ballot into a “secure box” just below the tabulator, he said.

Those ballots will be collected and sent to Maricopa’s “central tabulators,” County Recorder Stephen Richer said.

“This is actually what the majority of Arizona counties do on Election Day all the time,” Richer added.

While the exact nature of the problem in Maricopa County isn’t known, it’s not uncommon for machine malfunctions and other balloting problems to arise at election time, when millions of people rush to cast their votes.

Such snags can prompt a range of reactions from politicians and pundits, from encouraging voters to endure the delay to suggesting the problems are the sign of a coordinated conspiracy.

Far-right figures from Arizona senatorial candidate Blake Masters to Republican National Committee member Tyler Bowyer tweeted about the problem Tuesday. Former President Trump — who has spent the past two years sowing doubts and mistruths about the U.S. election system — also weighed in, saying that in Maricopa, problems were reported in GOP-leaning areas.

“Here we go again?” Trump said on the Truth Social platform. “The people will not stand for it!!!”

“Hard to know if we’re seeing incompetence or something worse,” Masters wrote. “All we know right now is that the Democrats are hoping you will get discouraged and go home.”

The issue has also been front-and-center in the governor’s race: Republican Kari Lake is an election denier who is running against Democrat Katie Hobbs (the current secretary of state).


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