Arizona Republic reporters break down primary election day voting issues and a few key races
Arizona Republic, Arizona Republic
The delayed opening of polling sites for Tuesday’s primary election affected 95 precincts and up to 270,000 voters, a far larger number than the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office has indicated, an Arizona Republic analysis shows.
The Maricopa County Recorder’s Office identified 62 precincts where the pollsopened late due to a malfunctioning voter check-in system. Voters at those locations were turned away or had to wait, in some cases, more than three hours to cast ballots.
But The Republic, by tallying the number of precincts voting at each late-opening polling site, found an additional 33 precincts were affected, potentially affecting 92,060 voters.
The county appears, in some cases, only to have counted one precinct per site as being affected by the delays, even when two or more precincts voted at that site.
The county did not confirm the additional sites identified by The Republic.
Sophia Solis, a spokeswoman for the Recorder’s Office, said there will be an internal review and an audit of the primary election.
“Moving forward, there will be an internal review of what led up to problems on Election Day,” Solis said in an email. “Additionally, we welcome an independent audit and will provide complete and total cooperation with the audit the Board of Supervisors has recently requested.”
County blames its contractor
The county blamed the delayed opening of some polling sites on Insight Enterprises, the company it hired to set up the express check-in machines that were first used in 2017.
Insight in a statement Tuesday disputed the county’s number, saying it believed only 43 polling sites were not prepared to open Tuesday morning.
Kyle Kuo worked as a troubleshooter on election day, coordinating between poll workers at six Gilbert locations and Insight. He said it appeared both the county and Insight were to blame for the issues.
One problem, he said, is poll workers had not been adequately trained.
“A lot of my poll workers didn’t feel prepared for the day,” Kuo said. “I think the training went over the basic steps. But if it didn’t go as normal, they didn’t have training as to what to do.”
How the county missed sites
Voters across Maricopa County reported to The Republic being turned away from locations that the Recorder’s Office did not identify as having problems.
Paul Weich was a poll observer at the Western Star and Kokopelli precincts on election day. Both precincts voted at the Ahwatukee Retirement and Recreation Center in Phoenix.
“They were turning people away outside, nobody even went into the polling place for the first 3 1/2 hours,” said Weich, adding that he saw 51 people turned away because of the problems.
The county, however, only included the Kokopelli precinct, which has about 4,600 active voters, on its list of affected precincts. Western Star, with about 3,000 voters, was not listed.
“I think it was exacerbated by the higher-than-usual turnout, but also exacerbated by the new equipment,” Weich said.
In addition to the undercount of sites where multiple precincts vote, four additional locations that weren’t identified by the county also had issues, according to voter reports to The Republic.
Andy Wise, a Gilbert resident, told The Republic that he went to the Central Christian Church in Gilbert at 9 a.m. to vote.
He said he was told that he would have to drive to another precinct because poll workers “could not get anything to print out.”
Contact the reporter at [email protected], follow on Twitter @PamReporting.
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