As of midday Tuesday, voting across the country has largely gone smoothly without any major issues or incidents of voter intimidation, voting rights advocates said.
In counties that did experience problems, which were typical of any Election Day, the incidents were largely attributed to faulty technology and human error.
In Maricopa County, Arizona, one of the nation’s largest voting jurisdictions in a critical battleground state, election workers Tuesday morning reported issues with ballot tabulators at about 20 percent of vote centers. Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates said at a news conference that the affected machines were rejecting about one ballot out of every five ballots inserted, according to Votebeat.
Officials did not initially know what was causing the issue, but technicians were dispatched to fix it. Around 2 p.m. Mountain time, Maricopa County reported that technicians changed the tabulator printer settings to produce darker markings, which resolved this issue at a number of locations.
Gates stressed that the issue was not a sign of fraud and that nobody was being disenfranchised.
Nonetheless, misinformation proliferated about the tabulator issues online. Blake Masters, GOP candidate for U.S. Senate, hinted at potential fraud on Twitter. “Hard to know if we’re seeing incompetence or something worse,” he wrote. “All we know right now is that the Democrats are hoping you will get discouraged and go home.”
Kelli Ward, the chairwoman of the Arizona Republican Party and a fake elector, wrote on Twitter that the county is “forcing poll workers to coerce voters to put their ballot in a box rather than getting it tabulated on site. Or they’re fired!”
In reality, officials reiterated that voters have a number of options when they encounter a malfunctioning tabulator, including going to another one of the 223 county vote centers or waiting for the functionality to be restored.
In a morning call with reporters, Taylor Moss, the election protection director at the Arizona Democracy Resource Center, said that given the machine glitches, she’s even more concerned that numerous voters have listened to rhetoric from election deniers encouraging them to show up to vote late in the day on Election Day.
“It’s really unfortunate that these bad actors who are spreading lies that mail-in voting isn’t safe and secure have now hurt the people they’ve been speaking to and the people that they have been pushing these lies on,” she said. “A lot of people have come out to vote on Election Day who don’t normally, and now they’re going to have to wait longer because of the higher turnout today intersecting with these ballot tabulation issues.” Read more