Confusion Over Voting Locations Had Voters Scrambling to Cast Ballot on Election Day

maricopa county ballot box

Although Maricopa County repeatedly advertised that ballot drop-off locations would be open until 7 pm, that wasn’t entirely true. Some voters found out the hard way that certain voting locations had unique operating hours of their own.

Ahead of Election Day, the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office told voters that they could drop off their ballot at a secure drop box until 7 pm. Yet, seven locations with secure drop boxes were open later and closed earlier anywhere from one to three hours more than advertised in social media posts by the county elections pages and the recorder’s office pages, causing confusion among voters who arrived at those locations only to be met with locked doors.

These location were the Glendale City Clerk Office (8 am to 5 pm); Litchfield Park City Hall (8 am to 5 pm); Maricopa County Recorder’s Office downtown location (8 am to 5 pm); Tolleson Elementary School District Office (7:30 am to 4:30 pm); Westwood High School (8 am to 6 pm); Eastmark High School (7 am to 3:30 pm); and Paradise Valley Unified School District Office (7:30 am to 4:30 pm).

So, although the county implied that all secure drop boxes would be open for receiving votes until 7 p.m., on Election Day, seven were not.

The Vote Center locations that offered both in-person and drop-box voting — 42 in all — were open uniformly from 6 am to 7 pm. The county also offered two 24/7 drop boxes.

Recorder Stephen Richer told The Arizona Daily Independent that voters had plenty of other options to drop off their ballots over the course of nearly a month. Richer rejected the notion that the county established the other drop boxes; the county only operates the boxes, while the participating jurisdiction has domain over them.

See his response below:

For jurisdictional elections, Maricopa County is the vendor administering the election. Per statute, for a vote by mail election, the jurisdiction must provide one ballot replacement center within the jurisdiction. Paradise Valley School District had one vote Center at Sunset Canyon Elementary since October 30, and it was open until 7 pm yesterday, Election Day. PV School District also chose to have a secure ballot drop box at their district office, and they made it available during their hours of operation—4:30 PM—as had been the case for over a week. 

Voters could also visit any of the other vote centers in the county until 7:00 PM yesterday.  The Board of Supervisors did a great job staffing those locations and making sure they all ran well.

Voters could also could drop off their ballot at the county-controlled two outdoor drop boxes until 7:00 PM.  Those are the only locations that the “county establishes.”  The rest are the domain of the participating jurisdictions and the county operates them.

Voters could vote on any of the preceding 26 days.

Voters could also return a ballot by mail.

All of this was advertised and was consistent on the Locations website and in all materials.  The Board of Supervisors opened every single vote center and closed every vote center, every day, at the time advertised on the Locations website and jurisdictional pamphlets.

It appears the advertisement of certain voting location hours wasn’t clear enough for all voters; some arrived at the Paradise Valley Unified School District location after it had closed.

That led to some last-minute voters unable to cast their ballot, as they didn’t have time to drive to another location before 7 pm. Right-wing activists claimed the confusion caused by the disparate voting location hours amounted to disenfranchisement.

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