Despite Voting Machine Malfunctions, Maricopa County Won't Keep Polls Open Later

Benjamin Leatherman

UPDATE, August 28, 3:51 p.m.: Despite calls from Republican Secretary of State Michele Reagan to extend polling hours after widespread reports of malfunctioning voting machines Tuesday morning, Maricopa County will not keep polling locations open later than the originally scheduled 7 p.m closing time.

The Republican-majority Maricopa County Board of Supervisors denied County Recorder Adrian Fontes' request to pursue a court order to extend the voting hours. In statement, Board Chairman Steve Churci said that neither he nor his colleagues were made aware of issues with voting machines that arose on Monday. He stressed that the county budgeted $3.9 million for new voting equipment after issues during the 2016 primary elections contributed to long lines.

"Now the Board is being asked to step in and take unprecedented action that may confuse voters, delay returns, and have other unintended consequences. We encourage any voter who wants to cast their ballot to be in line at any of your designated polling places by 7 p.m. and their vote will be counted," Churci said.

According to Fontes, 62 polling locations in Maricopa County had issues with machines today.

Our original story begins here:

Voters across Maricopa County reported problems at their polling locations on Tuesday, according to the county recorder's office.

Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes said his office likely received more than 100 complaints from voters who had issues casting a ballot this morning.

Fontes said problems with voting machines occurred at assigned polling locations, as opposed to “bonus vote centers” where anyone can vote.

The recorder’s office started having issues Monday afternoon, when roughly two-thirds of the technicians contracted to set up voting machines weren’t showing up.

Fontes said his office started training its own staff to operate the machines, some of whom worked late into the night. He would not name the contractor in question, saying that he was focused on today's election.

By 11 a.m, all but one polling location was operational. The only location still getting fixed was the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Palm Valley.

Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan said in a tweet that Maricopa County should seek a court order to keeping some polling locations open later than the scheduled closing time of 7 p.m. 
A spokesperson for the Recorder's Office said staff saw Reagan's tweet and are determining whether keeping polls open later would be feasible.

Rob Hunt showed up at his usual polling place, the Central Christian Church in Gilbert, just before 9 a.m.

Poll workers had trouble printing out his voting slip, which ensures he gets the right ballot. After struggling for some time, the staff steered a line of voters to a different location.

Hunt drove five miles to vote at the Tumbleweed Recreational Center in Chandler.

The episode reminded him of the widespread problems with polling locations during the 2016 primary elections.

“It’s frustrating,” Hunt said. "It doesn’t give us a lot of confidence that we’ve fixed the issues."
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Steven Hsieh was a staff writer for Phoenix New Times from August 2018 to April 2020.
Contact: Steven Hsieh