Maricopa County Approves Voting Machine Upgrades

Last week, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors approved a contract to revamp the vote-counting system and to create an executive position. They say the position will make the process of voting run more smoothly. The budget was for $6.1 million, and it was prompted when voting machines experienced glitches at the polls and caused long waits for voters in 2018.

“One’s right to vote is sacrosanct,” said Supervisor Steve Chucri. “I think that is something that is so sacred to each one of us – and what this country stands for when it comes to your right to vote.”

Votes in Maricopa County experienced issues when casting their votes in the August 2018 primary election. There were counting malfunctions and dozens of sites were closed for several hours on Election Day.

The board approved a new executive director of elections, Scott Jarrett, from the recommendation of a group the board appointed to help suggest steps toward election reforms. The vote was unanimous, and Jarrett will report to the board and the County Recorder’s Office.

The county recorder, Adrian Fontes, did not respond when asked for comments. Previously, Fontes blamed the voting issues on the contractors that were hired to prepare voting equipment.

Supervisors believe Jarrett will increase collaboration and communication between the board and recorder’s office.

“We have had decades of a one partisan official being over all the elections, and with these items we can envision a new future where the recorder and the five of us on the board of supervisors work in partnership … to ensure that elections are best-in-class,” said Bill Gates, the board chairman

According to supervisors, it has been 60 years since the vote-counting equipment, otherwise known as tabulation, has been upgraded.

The board believes, specifically with the county’s influx of new residents, that people should feel confident that their voice is being heard.

“When you go and vote, you should feel as though your vote was counted, and that it was secure and that it was done so in an effective way,” said Chucri.

The board of supervisors hired a group in January to analyze elections process. The group was also to recommend improvements for the county’s voting system. In May, the supervisors approved a report outlining the group’s findings and recommendations.

According to Gates, the goal of supervisors is to improve voter experience and avoid complications.