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Vote Count Underway In Maricopa County

By Ben Giles
Published: Thursday, October 22, 2020 - 5:05am
Updated: Thursday, October 22, 2020 - 7:57am

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Maricopa County Elections Department opening envelopes
Ben Giles/KJZZ
Maricopa County election workers process early ballots by removing them from ballot envelopes to prep ballots for counting.

Maricopa County election officials have begun to count early votes cast by mail and at early voting sites.

A new state law allows officials in all 15 Arizona counties to begin tabulating ballots two full weeks before Election Day, Nov. 3. That’s twice as long as previously allowed by law.

Erika Flores, a spokeswoman for the county elections department, said officials hope the extra time will ensure a full count of most of the early ballots cast through Nov. 1 by 8 p.m. on election night, when the first batch of results from Maricopa County are scheduled to be released.

Flores also credited new tabulation machines that count ballots more than twice as fast as previous machines.

Maricopa County Elections Department drop box
Ben Giles/KJZZ
Maricopa County election staffers help voters cast ballots at a drive-through drop box at the county's downtown Phoenix office.

“What will help us get results quicker, is the combination of the state law that allows us to start tabulating ballots two weeks before Election Day, and the new equipment that we have, that counts ballots much quicker,” she said.

As Election Day creeps closer, county officials are also expanding early voting options by opening more vote centers and ballot drop box locations.

The county will operate 48 universal vote centers, 19 drop box locations and two drive-thru drop box sites as of Thursday morning, according to Megan Gilbertson, communications director for the Elections Department.

“Any ballot that is returned to us in the drop boxes, whether that's vote centers, the drop box locations, returned by mail, and then even if they're going in person to vote early, those ballots can all be processed and counted before election day,” Flores said.

Maricopa County Elections Department tabulation machines
Ben Giles/KJZZ
Maricopa County officials say their new ballot tabulating machines can count roughly 8,000 ballots per hour. Machines used in previously election cycles could only count about 3,000 per hour.

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