Election Day is Nov. 8 in Arizona and across the country. Photo courtesy Maricopa County Elections Department
It’s Election Day, and while many voters in Arizona have already cast their early ballots via mail, there’s still time to drop off your ballot or to vote in person.
The polls will be open until 7 p.m., but results won’t be made public until 8 p.m. And don’t count on knowing final outcomes for tight races Tuesday night: Ballots will be counted for several days and it could be up to a week before especially close races are decided.
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Arizona law allows county elections officials to verify and tabulate early ballots received through the end of last week. Those ballots — roughly 976,000 in Maricopa County and about 1.4 million statewide — will be the first results reported.
After the polls close, voting equipment at polling locations will be returned to each county’s elections department, at which point it will be downloaded to central computers and recorded. Ballots that are dropped off Tuesday at polling locations will be transported back to elections centers, where workers will begin the arduous process of verifying voter signatures before tabulating the ballots.
That process will take several days. And elections officials are also required to give voters five days to verify early ballots with absent or mismatched signatures, a process known as “curing” a ballot.
Election Day voting toolkit
Here’s what you need to know about casting your ballot on Tuesday.
Polling places are set to be open on Election Day from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Voters in Maricopa and Pima counties do not need to vote at a specific precinct, but can drop off their ballot or vote in person at any voting center in their county. Those who live in other counties must vote at their assigned polling location to ensure that their vote counts.
If you didn’t get around to mailing in your early ballot, you don’t need to wait in line. Instead, you can drop it off at any polling location in your county. Just make sure it’s sealed in the envelope sent with it and that you signed the envelope.
But don’t mail an early ballot: It must be in the hands of county elections officials before 7 p.m. Tuesday.
If you’re voting in person at a polling place, you’ll need to bring a photo ID, or another acceptable form of identification.
In Maricopa County there are 223 voting locations open today. You can check the line length at any of them here.
During the August primary election, the shortest wait times at polling locations in Maricopa County were from 9-11 a.m. and 1-4 p.m. according to County Recorder Stephen Richer.
Lines were the longest during lunch time and after 5 p.m.
Maricopa County voters who have questions can call 602-506-1511 or email [email protected].
The eyes of the nation will be on Maricopa County
After spending two years in the national spotlight as the focal point of many false conspiracy theories about the 2020 elections, Maricopa County officials on Monday said they are ready for 2022 — and the scrutiny it will bring.
“I’m proud that the world has come here. They are able to see what we have, which is a true hybrid voting model,” said Bill Gates, chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors.
Maricopa County has been at the forefront of election misinformation since President Joe Biden won the state in 2020, leading to a litany of false claims about the election, protests outside of the Maricopa County tabulation center and a partisan “audit” of the results that ultimately found no evidence of fraud and confirmed Biden’s win.
Many of the baseless election claims center on the electronic tabulation machines, with claims ranging from assertions that they aren’t accurate to them being designed to “flip” votes to Democratic candidates. The truth is that the machines are faster and more accurate than hand-counting ballots and there’s no shred of evidence that the machines change votes — nevermind that Arizona has paper ballots allowing for suspicious election results to be checked.
And Arizona voting machines undergo logic and accuracy testing, in which machines are checked against hand counts while representatives of political parties watch, both before and after the election. The machines are also tested by the Federal Election Commission for any software issues and inaccuracies.
“There is no mysterious tabulating that happens in the middle of the night,” Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer, whose office oversees elections in the county, said.
He noted that all tabulation has to happen while representatives from the parties are present. Many common conspiracy theories have postulated that ballots are “injected” during the night or counted during the night when “no one is watching.”
“There is no such thing as injecting ballots into the system,” Richer said, adding that a person would have to fool multiple layers of government in order to do so including the Social Security system as well as the state’s Motor Vehicle Division.
Maricopa County Sheriff Penzone took a different tone when he spoke to the press Monday, instead focusing on intimidation and possible threats.
“I don’t have any slides, I don’t have any jokes and at this point I don’t have any patience,” Penzone said, adding that MCSO plans to protect a “free vote” and have plain clothes deputies at every polling location in the county.
“I have plenty of cells for you and we serve two meals during the day. Neither of them are that good,” Penzone said to caution anyone who may wish to “intimidate” or incite violence on Election Day.
He also issued a warning to “our leaders” who may rile up crowds as well.
“Your words matter and if you choose words that incite violence you will be cited in the criminal reports as well,” Penzone said.
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