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Arizona 2022 midterm Election Day updates

By Ron Dungan, Kathy Ritchie, Matthew Casey, Mark Brodie, Lauren Gilger, Sky Schaudt, Greg Hahne
Associated Press, NPR
Published: Tuesday, November 8, 2022 - 7:12am
Updated: Tuesday, November 8, 2022 - 8:21pm

Get updates on Election Day in Arizona.

Tempe voters in line
Chad Snow/KJZZ
Voters wait in line to cast ballots at the Tempe History Museum on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022.

7:43 p.m.: Judge denies request to keep polls open

A Superior Court judge denied a late request by a GOP coalition to force Maricopa County to keep polling centers open an extra three hours Tuesday night, until 10 p.m.

The lawsuit was filed by the Republican National Committee with the Kari Lake and Blake Masters campaigns.

After a brief hearing, Judge Timothy Ryan said some voters may have faced confusion and difficulties. But they were still allowed to cast a ballot

"The court does not have any evidence that there is a voter who was precluded the right to vote from what was presented," said Ryan.

Ryan’s ruling came moments before the polls closed and nearly 10 hours after Maricopa County officials first said work was ongoing to fix tabulation machines that were not properly reading ballots.

A sign points toward a vote cente
Sky Schaudt/KJZZ
A sign points toward a vote center in north Phoenix on Nov. 8, 2022.

6:52 p.m.: Republicans sue to extend poll hours in Maricopa County

A GOP coalition including the Republican National Committee has filed an emergency motion to extend poll hours in Maricopa County, Arizona — the state's most populous county — after technical issues temporarily impacted many of the county's voting machines.

RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel announced the news in a Tuesday evening tweet in which she said voting machines in over 25% of voting locations had experienced "significant issues."

Maricopa County officials said around midafternoon local time that they had fixed a problem with some of the area's ballot tabulator machines, which affected nearly 20% of voting locations. They said that it appeared some of the printers were not producing dark-enough timing marks on ballots and that this was resolved by changing printer settings.

Arizona officials assured voters that their ballots would still be counted, thanks to redundancy protocols, and that voters could slide their ballots into a "secure box" just below the tabulator, to be collected and sent to Maricopa County's "central tabulators."

Voter line up at a vote center
Sky Schaudt/KJZZ
Voter line up at a vote center in north Phoenix on Nov. 8, 2022.

"This is actually what the majority of Arizona counties do on Election Day all the time," County Recorder Stephen Richer said.

Still, McDaniel called the issue "unacceptable."

"The widespread issues – in an election administered by Democrat Secretary of State Katie Hobbs – are completely unacceptable, especially as Republicans flock to the polls to vote in-person on Election Day," she tweeted.

The lawsuit was filed by the RNC, along with two Arizona Republicans: U.S. Senate candidate Blake Masters and gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake. It seeks to keep polls open until 10 p.m. local time and suspend the release of any tabulated early-ballot returns in the county until 11 p.m., ABC15 reports.

As NPR has reported, Maricopa County has been a top site for unfounded claims of election fraud during the 2020 election, and Tuesday's technical issues were immediately seized on in misleading posts by Republican figures, including former President Donald Trump.

Requests for poll-place extensions are fairly common. Maricopa County's isn't even the first reported today: A judge granted a request for polls in Harris County, Texas, to remain open until 8 p.m. local time because of delays earlier in the day.

5:52 p.m.: Voting snag in Arizona fuels election conspiracy theories

A printing malfunction at 60 polling places across Arizona's most populous county slowed down voting Tuesday, but election officials assured voters that every ballot would be counted.

Still, the issue gave rise to conspiracy theories about the integrity of the vote in the pivotal state. Former President Donald Trump, Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and others weighed in to claim that Democrats were trying to subvert the vote of Republicans, who tend to show up in greater numbers in person on Election Day.

Lake and several other candidates on the Arizona ballot have pushed false claims about the 2020 presidential race, amplifying Trump's lies about a stolen election. But election officials from both political parties and members of Trump's own Cabinet have said there was no widespread voter fraud and that Trump lost reelection to Democrat Joe Biden.

The Republican National Committee, along with the campaigns of Lake and Republican Senate candidate Blake Masters, filed an emergency motion to extend voting hours in Maricopa County.

“We have dozens of attorneys and thousands of volunteers on the ground working to solve this issue and ensure that Arizona voters have the chance to make their voices heard,” the RNC chairwoman, Ronna McDaniel, said in a statement.

Equipment malfunctions such as these are typical in every election, and officials have plans in place to ensure voting continues and all eligible ballots are counted.

At issue were printers that were not producing dark enough markings on the ballots, which required election officials to change the printer settings. Until then, some voters who tried to insert their ballots into voting tabulators were forced to wait and use other machines or were told they could leave their ballots in a drop box. Those votes were expected to be counted Wednesday.

A sign marks the 75-foot mark outside the voter center at Deer Valley Airport
Sky Schaudt/KJZZ
A sign marks the 75-foot mark outside the voter center at Deer Valley Airport in Phoenix on Nov. 8. 2022.

Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer said he was sorry for the inconvenience.

"Every legal vote will be tabulated. I promise,” he said.

The issue affected about 25% of voting centers in Maricopa County, which includes metropolitan Phoenix. It was not immediately clear how many ballots were affected.

When voters in the country check in, they are handed a ballot for their specific election precinct; the races for which they can vote are printed for them. That process allows voters to go to any voting location in the county. The voters then fill out the ballot and put it into a tabulation machine to be counted.

Some of the tabulators at 60 voting sites did not read the ballots because the printers did not produce what are known as “timing marks” dark enough to be read by the machines. Voters who had their ballots rejected were told they could try the location’s second tabulator, put it in a ballot box to be counted at the central facility later or cancel it and go to another vote center.

The majority of Arizona counties do not count ballots at polling places. Officials bring the ballots to a central facility for counting. The ballots that were left in the drop boxes will be counted at that central site.

The problem slowed down voting in both traditionally Democratic and Republican areas, especially at an outlet mall in conservative far-flung Anthem. Some voters there reported waiting several hours to be able to vote with the only one of two tabulators working.

Arizona law allows anyone still in line when the polls close to vote.

By midday, nearly half of the 232 voting centers countywide reported no wait at all, and 210 of the centers reported a wait of a half hour or less. The Anthem location had a wait of about an hour.

At a polling place on the other side of the county, Phoenix voter Maggie Perini said she was able to vote without problem, but that a man next her in line struggled with his ballot at a different tabulator. When he switched to the machine she had used, the ballot went through.

“And then I know one woman who was coming out, she tried like four or five times for it to work and it wasn’t working,” said Perini. “And someone had told her she could leave her ballot and she’s like, No, no, no, no, no.”

Voter Michael McCuarrie said his ballot wasn’t read so he dropped it off to be counted later.

“Fine as long as the vote is counted,” said McCuarrie. “I don’t mind.”

Lake told reporters after she cast her ballot midday that she was “embarrassed for Arizona.”

“My advice is to stay in line. Don’t let this craziness stop you,” Lake said.

3:30 p.m.: Ballot tabulator problems fixed, county officials say

Maricopa County officials say they’ve found a solution to a technical problem they’ve been having Tuesday with election equipment.

Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates issued a video statement this morning, notifying residents of the issue.

"We’ve got about 20% of the locations out there, where there’s an issue with the tabulator, where some of the ballots — that after people have voted them — they try and run them through the tabulator, and they’re not going through."

In an updated statement Tuesday afternoon, the county said the issue seems to have been resolved by adjusting printer settings in the machines. Technicians are now making the fix at the affected locations.

Officials assure that all votes will be counted.

A vote center in north Phoenix
Sky Schaudt/KJZZ
A vote center in north Phoenix on Nov. 8, 2022.

11:24 a.m. Maricopa County says 20% of polling places are having ‘an issue with the tabulator’

About 1 in 5 polling locations in Maricopa County 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.

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 vote to suggesting the problems are the sign of a coordinated conspiracy.

On Tuesday, those tweeting about the Arizona issue included prominent far-right figures from senatorial candidate Blake Masters and Republican National Committee member Tyler Bowyer to Trump insider Stephen Miller.

“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, an election denier who is running against Democrat Katie Hobbs (the current secretary of state), has sought to require a hand count of the midterm vote. Her lawsuit to that effect, which embraced disproven claims that the U.S. election system is rife with fraud, was thrown out over the summer.

10:30 a.m.: Phoenix-area YMCAs offering free childcare on Election Day

The Valley of the Sun YMCA is helping voters get to the polls by offering free childcare on Tuesday.

Caregivers can drop their potty-trained children of all ages off at Valley of the Sun YMCA locations for up to four hours on Election Day.

"Lack of quality childcare should not prevent [voters] from getting out to the polls to exercise their right to vote," said JT Turner, director of PR and communications, said in a press release Monday.

Participants must register for the Election Day Child-Watch program at valleyymca.org.

9:28 a.m.: Some vote-tabulation machines not working at Maricopa County polling places

Trouble with vote-tabulation machines at some polling places in Maricopa County, generated criticism on social media but a spokesperson for the elections department said the problem was minor.

"Voters have options,” spokesperson Megan Gilbertson said. “They can wait to put their ballot in the working tabulator, they can use the secure drop box, or they can go to another voting center if they don’t want to wait.”

Maricopa is the most populous county in Arizona, a place where elections for governor and U.S. Senate are expected to be close and a state where skepticism of election systems has run deep since 2020.

Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer said some of the machines aren't reading the ballots properly. He told The Show it is impacting about one out of every six machines. He said Friday morning the elections department isn't sure why the machines aren't working.

Richer said most vote centers aren't seeing lines in the morning, but he expects an uptick in voters later in the day.

Hear Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer with host Mark Brodie on The Show

Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer and Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chair Bill Gates on Election Day
Matthew Casey/KJZZ
Bill Gates, chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, (right) and Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer speak to reporters on Election Day 2022.

9:19 a.m.: Voter share their political concerns as they cast their ballots

Voters came to vote in person and use the drop box at Living Word Bible Church in Ahwatukee. There was a steady stream of cars and a lot of the parking spaces were taken. 

KJZZ News spoke to Kenneth Schofield, who was here to drop off his ballot. He said he was concerned about inflation and the border.

“Inflation of course. Border. Inflation and border are the two main things for me. Crime not so much, probably in a lot of other areas in the country crime is way more important.”

He also said that inflation was important to him because he is on a fixed income. 

“The cost of everything is going up. And at my age, being retired, there’s not a lot of wiggle room in your budget," Schofield.

Another voter, Sophie Johnson, is most concerned with women’s rights and local schools. So she is voting on party lines.

“Oh, Dems down the board. Up and down the board — 100%,” Johnson said.

9:08: KJZZ reporters on what they're seeing at the polls

KJZZ News spoke to voter Chelsea McLaughlin at the Church of the Beatitudes in Phoenix on Tuesday morning. McLaughlin brought her children to show them the process and said she was voting on body autonomy.

"Top of mind for me would be the right to women’s health care and abortion, and making my own choices for my body, and my daughter making her own as well," said McLaughlin.

Republican mom of two Geri Farr said safety and security and the border are big issues.

"I think I have to parent my two little girls differently. Meaning, they have to be educated about sex traffickers, they have to be educated to know what to look for, so that they're not snatched and taken across the border," said Farr.

Farr voted for Kari Lake and Blake Masters, and so did Barb Colletti.

"I'm pro life. I believe in secure borders. I have children. I worry about the fentanyl coming up across the border," said Colletti.

Mark Greenbaum is a Republican, and he said he voted "Republican down the ballot."

So, it was no surprise that he voted for Kari Lake. But Greenbaum was really bothered by the fact that Katie Hobbs refused to debate Lake.

"I really resent that she didn't debate, you know? If you can't debate your opponent, how are you going to go against your opponents on the other side of the aisle when you're elected? So that was what my major point with her," said Greenbaum. "You know, even if you don't agree with someone, you've got to debate."

Election Day check-in: Hear Kathy Ritchie and Matthew Casey discuss what they’re seeing on The Show

8 a.m.: Valley of the Sun YMCA offering free childcare

Arizona vote centers are open
Kerry Fehr Snyder/KJZZ
Arizona vote centers are open from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Nov. 8, 2022.

5:35 a.m.: Election Day tests voters, voting systems amid false claims

Ahead of the election, Republican and conservative groups recruited people to serve as poll watchers and to get hired as local poll workers. Fueled by the lies about the 2020 election, some people even stationed themselves near ballot drop boxes in Arizona while toting guns, wearing body armor and concealing their faces with masks. Just last week, a judge ordered such groups to keep at least 250 feet away.

Since the 2020 election, false claims have led to a wave of harassment and death threats targeting election officials and staff. That has prompted some to leave the profession altogether, a loss of experience that has added to the challenges of conducting a smooth election this year.

Election officials have promised they will not hesitate to contact law enforcement to protect voters and poll workers. A coalition of voting rights groups has volunteers available to assist any voters who run into problems on Election Day, staffing the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline.

4 a.m.: Arizona voters weigh ballot measures on voting, tuition

Arizona voters who have been slogging through ballots that include a slew of congressional and statewide races are also considering 10 ballot measures — all but two having been put on the ballot by the Republican-controlled Legislature.

They include a measure boosting the identification needed for both mail-in and in-person voting, three that would make it harder to pass voter initiatives or change their terms and a question on whether young immigrants should qualify for in-state tuition.

Others include a statewide sales tax to fund rural fire districts and a measure that would allow business property taxes to be cut.

The two citizen initiatives made the ballot despite legal challenges to their qualifying signatures. One would require more campaign finance disclosures and the other would limit interest on medical debt and increase the amount of assets shielded from bill collectors.

Proposition 209 is the voting measure. If approved, it would require people who mail in ballots to provide additional identification on top of their signature on the ballot envelope. The referendum also changes how in-person voters are allowed to prove their identity by eliminating the ability to show a non-picture ID along with a utility bill, for instance. In all cases, voters already must prove their identify and citizenship when registering to vote.

The three measures targeting initiatives were placed on the ballot by Republican lawmakers who openly oppose the process that allows voters to bypass the Legislature to pass laws. Recent examples include boosting the minimum wage and legalizing marijuana.

Proposition 128 would free the Legislature from the Voter Protection Act's ban on changing laws passed by initiative if any part of the measure is found by the state Supreme Court or U.S. Supreme Court to contain illegal or unconstitutional language. Currently, only that portion would be stricken, but if the referendum passes lawmakers could make wholesale changes or even repeal such laws.

Proposition 129 would limit initiatives to a single subject and require that all major parts of an initiative be explained in the title, and Proposition 132 would raise the threshold from a simple majority to 60% of the vote to pass any ballot measure that imposes a fee or raises tax.

At least two ballot measures this year — one that would raise taxes for rural fire districts and another that would limit interest and make other changes to debt owed by Arizonans — would need 60% of voter support to pass under terms of the proposal.

Proposition 211 is the citizen initiative that seeks to shine a light on so-called “dark money” that anonymous donors funnel through campaigns or organizations to support or attack candidates or ballot measures. Former Democratic Attorney General Terry Goddard is among those who have pushed for the change for years. It would require any organization spending more than $5,000 to identify all donors, with big penalties for failing to do so.

Proposition 209 is backed by the union-supported progressive group Healthcare Rising Arizona. It would raise the amount of assets shielded from bill collectors and would limit interest rates on medical debts and increase the amount of cash that can be kept from $300 to $5,000.

The rest of the measures also were put on the ballot by the Legislature:

Proposition 310 boosts the sales tax by 1/10 of a cent statewide to fund rural fire districts. Backers say local property taxes in areas outside of bigger cities that can fund their own fire services fall short of what's needed for a modern department.

Proposition 131 creates a lieutenant governor who would run on a slate with each party's candidate for governor. They would be next in line if the governor leaves office for any reason and would oversee the department of administration, which handles state contracts, hiring and firing.

Proposition 308 would allow immigrants who went to high school in the state for two years to get in-state college tuition regardless of their immigration status. Aimed at so-called Dreamers, the measure has broad backing from the business community. At least 18 states have similar rules on in-state tuition for young people.

Proposition 130 restores a property tax exemption for disabled veterans that was ruled unconstitutional and exempts some business personal property and stocks of raw materials from property tax.

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