Arizona: Maricopa County precincts with voting problems were not overwhelmingly Republican

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PHOENIX — Polling locations that experienced Election Day issues in Maricopa County, home to more than half of Arizona’s voters, do not massively bias Republicans, according to a Washington Post analysis.

The discovery undermines the claims of some Republicans — including Kari Lake, the GOP gubernatorial candidate and former President Donald Trump — say GOP areas in the county were disproportionately affected by the issues, which involved an incident with printers. Republicans, however, argue that their voters were more likely to be affected, given their tendency to vote on Election Day rather than mail in their ballots.

The claims come as Lake continues to closely trail her rival, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, and the number of ballots remaining to be counted dwindles.

As of Tuesday morning, printers at 70 of the county’s 223 polling places produced ballots with ink that was too light to be read by counting machines, causing the ballots to be rejected. This required voters to line up, drive to another location, or drop their ballots into secure boxes that were moved to downtown Phoenix and counted there. County officials say no one was denied the right to vote.

The Post identified the precincts of the affected polling places using data provided by Maricopa County election officials, then examined the distribution of voter registration in each precinct using data from L2, a provider of election data.

The analysis found that the share of Registered Republicans in the affected precincts, about 37%, is virtually the same as the share of Registered Republicans in the county, which is 35%.

Throughout the week, prominent Republicans have suggested without evidence that the problem with printers is only in Republican areas.

Lake, speaking to reporters after voting with his family at a downtown site, said, “There’s a reason we decided to change locations – we were going to a nice Republican neighborhood.” Instead, she said, “We came to vote in the heart of Liberal Phoenix because we wanted to make sure we had good machines.”

“And guess what?” she added. “They had no problems with their machines today. Not a single machine spat out a ballot here today. Not a single one, in a very liberal field. We were therefore right to come and vote in a very liberal zone.

In fact, there were problems in places in heavily Democratic neighborhoods, according to The Post’s analysis.

They included two elementary schools in east Phoenix and a health center in south Phoenix all places where the Democrat share exceeds the Republican share by about 40 percentage points. At Mountain Park Health Center in South Phoenix, which was among the neighborhoods that had problems with printers, there were nearly three times as many votes for Lake’s Democratic opponent, Hobbs, as for the candidate Republican, according to results released by the county.

A spokesperson for the Lake campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Lake’s claims were amplified throughout the weekend by Trump, who wrote on Truth Social, the social media site created by the former president. and his allies, that “even Kari Lake was taken to a Liberal Democratic district to vote.”

The former president used that claim to push an unsubstantiated claim that Maricopa County officials “stole” the election of Blake Masters, the GOP Senate nominee. On Friday, Masters was expected to lose his race to incumbent Democrat Mark Kelly.

“So in Maricopa County, they’re starting over. …but only in Republican districts,” wrote Trump, who made the county the target of his bogus voter fraud allegations in 2020.

He concluded: “Start the election again!”

Masters hinted at a similar request during a Friday appearance on Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s show before his run was announced by The Associated Press. “I think the most honest thing at this point would be for Maricopa County to wipe the slate clean, just take all the ballots and recount,” he said.

Masters claimed the county “mixed up” the ballots twice, but did not provide a basis for that claim. A campaign spokesperson did not respond to a request for evidence supporting his claims.

A spokeswoman for the County Elections Department said election officials at two locations had combined two batches of ballots, but “this has happened in the past, and we have redundancies in place that allow us to help ensure that each legal ballot is counted only once”. These dismissals, which include checking the total number of ballots against records at polling places, are being carried out “in the presence of political party observers”, added spokeswoman Megan Gilbertson.

In a statement posted on Twitter on Saturday, Masters did not push the fraud allegations but said he would not back down until all the votes were counted.

Maricopa County officials have stressed in recent days that the issues did not cause any ballots to be misread or prevent anyone from voting. They say they are working up to 18 hours a day to process a record number of ballots cast on Election Day – and they have been saying for weeks that tabulation could take up to 12 days.

“I will defend my state”, Bill Gates, the Republican Chairman of the County Board of Supervisors, told reporters Friday afternoon. “We do things the right way.”

Republican Party leaders in Arizona argue that their voters have been disproportionately affected by the problems because of their tendency to vote on Election Day. “It was no secret that Republicans intended to vote on Election Day,” the state party said in a statement on Sunday.

But the Post’s analysis found that the proportion of Republican voters on Election Day in precincts with printer problems was virtually the same as the share in precincts across the county, bolstering the county’s argument that which people in affected areas who wanted to vote on Tuesday were not prevented from doing so. .

Lawyers for the party asked a judge on Tuesday evening to require county officials to extend voting hours by three hours, citing mechanical problems. But about five minutes before the polls closed, the judge denied the request, ruling that Republicans were unable to prove that a voter had been denied the opportunity to vote.

In Maricopa, voters can vote at any voting center, regardless of where they live. This is different from some systems that force people to vote at designated places near or in their neighborhoods.

Voters who live in the suburbs and travel to downtown Phoenix for work, for example, can vote near home, downtown or at schools, churches or one of 223 polling places. settled in the vast county.

Traditionally, people tend to vote in areas close to home or in places that are part of their daily routines, said University of Florida political scientist Michael McDonald.

“Voting centers are conveniently located, they are part of your day, they can be on your route for all your errands,” he said.

Bronner reported from Washington. Jon Swaine and Reis Thebault contributed to this report.

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