Arizona official says faster ballot counting ‘probably’ requires policy change

An official in Maricopa County, Arizona admitted Wednesday that current policies are not sufficient to allow the state to quickly process the “immense” number of early voting ballots dropped off on Election Day that are causing significant delays in ballot counting.

Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer told reporters that approximately 275,000 early ballots were dropped off Tuesday on Election Day, which he said was “bigger than ever before.”

“This number is immense and it’s something… it’s a conversation that probably Arizona needs to have in terms of public policy, because this is a number that keeps on growing,” Richer said.

“It’s in many ways, it’s wonderful. Arizonans appreciate the… ease of the voting process in that you can just take your early ballot and drop it off on Election Day,” he said.

MARICOPA COUNTY, ARIZONA, OFFICIALS APOLOGIZE FOR VOTE TABULATOR PROBLEMS, SAY 7% OF BALLOTS AFFECTED

PHOENIX, ARIZONA, NOVEMBER 08: Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer and Bill Gates, Chairman of the Maricopa Board of Supervisors, speak about voting machine malfunctions at the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center on November 08, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona.
(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

“But it does inhibit us from having a higher percentage of returns available within the first 24, 48 hours,” Richer said.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the bulk of the votes yet to be counted, roughly 400,000, were mainly early votes had been dropped off between Friday and Tuesday.

Maricopa County has also come under scrutiny after roughly 20% of their polling sites had problems with tabulation machines on Tuesday, just hours after Election Day polls opened. Those problems also delayed the final voting results.

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FILE: A voter casts their ballot at a secure ballot drop box at the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center in Phoenix, Nov. 1, 2022.
(AP Photo/Matt York, File)

Richer said the multi-step ballot counting process includes image capturing signatures, verifying the signatures and then finally tabulating the votes.

Richer pointed out that in the November 2020 election, there were 170,000 early ballots that were dropped off at polling sites on Election Day.

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“So obviously, in just the span of two years, despite my best efforts, over 100,000 additional people returned ballots just by dropping off an early ballot on Election Day,” he said.

PRESCOTT, AZ – NOVEMBER 07: Arizona Republican senate candidate Blake Masters speaks during a get out the vote campaign rally on November 07, 2022 in Prescott, Arizona. With 1 day to go until election day, Blake Masters and other Republican candidates campaigning throughout the state ahead of Tuesday’s midterm election. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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Arizona’s election results will be one determining factor in whether the GOP take control of the Senate in January.

Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report.