A week after election-day voting problems impacted 95 precincts and thousands of people, Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes broke his silence in an unannounced Facebook live video.
“We had some problems,” he said. “We didn’t deliver for all of our voters.”
In the video, Fontes apologized for the issues that resulted in polling locations that were not ready for voters at 6 a.m. when voting was set to begin.
On election day, Fontes blamed the issue on an IT contractor who he said did not provide the agreed-upon resources to set up the voter check-in machines. The Tempe-based contractor disputed Fontes’ claim and pointed the finger back on an unprepared Recorder’s Office.
“We made some judgment calls that were not in the best interest,” Fontes said on the Facebook video Tuesday. “Whether it was in our control or not, it happened.”
Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes speaks about the Board of Supervisors’s decision to not extend the polling hours after voting issues.
Mark Henle, The Republic
Fontes said his office is preparing a report that will answer questions voters and the media have asked over the past week. The report will be released Wednesday or Thursday, he said.
Recorder’s Office staff told The Arizona Republic that Fontes would not answer questions until all ballots had been counted. The Republic sent more than a dozen questions to the Recorder’s Office about the voting issues and procedures.
Voters encountered long lines at the Tempe Public Library polling place. People leaving the lines said they wa
David Wallace, Arizona Republic
In the Facebook video, Fontes said he has not responded to media questions because he wanted to make sure he had all information to supply a complete answer. He also said he would prefer to speak directly to voters through methods such as Facebook live and the report he will release.
“We’re not going to worry about politics and name calling and blame casting. We’re not going to worry about headlines. We’re going to worry about getting you the information directly from us so that we can continue to be transparent, which we have been since I got elected,” he said.
READ MORE: Who is to blame for election-day problems?
The recorder is an elected position. Fontes, a Democrat, successfully ran on a campaign that criticized Republican Helen Purcell after she faced unrelated voting issues as county recorder.
Some Arizonans faced long lines as they headed to the polls to vote in primaries on election day.
An hour after the 17-minute video was released, about 400 people had viewed it. Comments were a mix from frustrated voters and individuals complementing Fontes on addressing the problems.
Fontes in the video said there was “a silver lining” to the election issues — they revealed that the county’s contingency plans worked.
The Recorder’s Office instituted 40 “bonus vote centers” where any voter could cast a ballot, in addition to the assigned polling places. This gave voters impacted by the nonfunctional polling places another option.
“Where we did have problems at a lot of polling places, and again that was bad, a lot of those voters ended up using the contingency that we had in place,” Fontes said. “So we feel terrible about folks who may not have had enough time to go from point A to point B and then cast a ballot; nonetheless, that was available and it was part of our emergency contingency.”
The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors is also requesting an independent outside audit of the Recorder’s Office’s processes for planning and executing the election.
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