Voting Changes in Maricopa County

More from this show

Big changes are coming to the way you vote in Maricopa County. All voters will receive a mail-in ballot, and traditional polling places will go away. We’ll hear from Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes on the changes.

TED SIMONS: MARICOPA COUNTY VOTERS WILL SEE SOME DIFFERENCES THE NEXT TIME THEY HEAD TO THE POLLS, INCLUDING CHANGES IN POLLING LOCATIONS AND ACCESS TO MAIL-IN BALLOTS. HERE NOW TO TALK ABOUT THE NEW SYSTEM IS MARICOPA COUNTY RECORDER ADRIAN FONTES. WELCOME BACK, GOOD TO SEE YOU. NEW COUNTY ELECTION PLAN. TALK TO US HERE.

ADRIAN FONTES: SO FOR THE JURISDICTIONAL ELECTIONS THIS FALL, 2017, NOT FOR THE GENERAL ELECTION IN 2018. WE'VE LOOKED AT THE NUMBERS, 2015: WE'VE HAD 97% OF OUR TURNOUT WAS BY MAIL, IN 2013, 96% WAS BY MAIL SO REALLY BY VIRTUE OF THEIR OWN ACTS MARICOPA COUNTY'S VOTERS HAVE ASKED FOR A VOTE BY MAIL SYSTEM AND THIS BALLOT BY MAIL WITH OUR BALLOT CENTERS IS GOING TO BE WHAT WE GIVE THEM.

TED SIMONS: ANY MORE EARLY VOTING LISTS?

ADRIAN FONTES: SO, YES, AND NOW EVERYONE IS GOING TO BE ON THE SAME EARLY VOTER LIST. LET'S JUST TAKE A STEP BACKWARDS. WHAT WE HAVE BEEN DOING IN MARICOPA COUNTY FOR A VERY LONG TIME IS RUNNING TWO TOTALLY SEPARATE ELECTIONS AND TREATING BALLOTS TWO TOTALLY SEPARATE WAYS. WE'VE GOT OUR TRADITIONAL PRECINCT BASE POLLING PLACE WHERE YOU GO, YOU GET YOUR BALLOT YOU PUT IT INTO THE COUNTING MACHINE, AND THAT'S ONE WAY OF TREATING A BALLOT AND ONE WAY OF VOTING. THEN WE HAVE A VERY SEPARATE SYSTEM, WHICH IS OUR PERMANENT EARLY VOTE LIST SYSTEM. YOU GET YOUR BALLOT AT HOME, YOU TAKE YOUR TIME, RESEARCH IT, SIGN IT, SEND IT IN, IT GOES THROUGH THE SECURITY CHECKS AND WE COUNT IT AT A CENTRAL COUNT LOCATION. BY ELIMINATING THE ONE THAT VERY FEW VOTERS ARE USING ANYMORE AND BY ENHANCING THE OTHER WHICH IS THE ONE THAT'S PREFERRED AND HELPS THE VOTER EXPERIENCE WE ARE REALLY GIVING THE VOTERS WHAT THEY WANT OVERALL.

TED SIMONS: VERY FEW VOTERS USING THE FIRST OPTION. TRADITIONAL POLLING PLACES: ARE THEY GOING AWAY?

ADRIAN FONTES: THEY ARE GOING AWAY WHEN WE GO TO A COMPLETE BALLOT BY MAIL SYSTEM ONLY BECAUSE WE ARE ELIMINATING THE FACT YOU HAVE TO VOTE IN THIS PLACE AT THIS TIME ONLY. YOU SEE WE ARE OPENING UP THE FACT THAT ANYBODY CAN VOTE AT ANY OF THESE BALLOT CENTERS THAT WE'RE GOING TO HAVE OPEN ALL OVER THE COUNTY SO IF YOU ARE LIVING IN WICKENBURG AND YOU GO HAVE LUNCH WITH FRIENDS IN GILBERT AND WANT TO VOTE TOGETHER THEN YOU GO TO THE BALLOT CENTER IN GILBERT BECAUSE YOU CAN VOTE ANYWHERE IN MARICOPA COUNTY.

TED SIMONS: SO THE BALLOT CENTER HAS BECOME THE NEW POLLING PLACE?

ADRIAN FONTES: ESSENTIALLY YES. BUT WE DON'T HAVE THE OLD POLLING PLACE RESTRICTIONS. WITH THE PROVISIONAL BALLOTS PEOPLE MIGHT GET CONFUSED BECAUSE THE OFFICE HAD CHANGED POLLING PLACES IN PRECINCTS. YOU KNOW, THIS NEW OWNER AND THIS PLACE DOESN'T WANT US THERE ...SO THAT CONFUSION IS COMPLETELY ELIMINATED. WE NOW ARE ENGAGING IN LONGER TERM CONTRACTS AND COMMITMENTS WITH A LOT OF THE FOLKS WHO ARE DOING THE BALLOT CENTERS AND WE WILL BE ABLE TO PROVIDE THESE SERVICES AT THESE PLACES FOR CONSISTENCY'S SAKE AND IT'S ALL ABOUT ENHANCING THE VOTER EXPERIENCE.

TED SIMONS: I UNDERSTAND THAT THEY MIGHT BE OPEN EVEN LONGER BEFOREHAND. LET'S SAY I WANT IF THE ELECTION DATE IS NOVEMBER 7TH, IT IS NOVEMBER 1ST AND I AM OUT OF TOWN NOVEMBER 7TH, CAN I GO TO A BALLOT CENTER AND VOTE ON NOVEMBER 1ST?

ADRIAN FONTES: ABSOLUTELY. IF YOU ARE ON THE PERMANENT EARLY VOTE LIST NOW, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WILL CHANGE. SO THAT MEANS FOR OVER 95% OF OUR JURISDICTIONAL VOTERS, NOTHING'S GOING TO CHANGE FOR THEM. IT IS ONLY FOR THAT SMALLER PERCENTAGE WHERE WE SEND EVERYONE A BALLOT IN THE MAIL AND THEY LOSE IT, DESTROY IT, NEED CLARIFICATION, THEY CAN COME INTO ANY BALLOT CENTER IN THE ENTIRE COUNTY AND WE WILL BE OPENING MORE, FOR LONGER HOURS, AND EVEN OVER THE WEEKENDS AND YOU CAN COME IN AND GET A NEW BALLOT PRINTED OR TURN IN YOUR BALLOT.
TED SIMONS: LET'S TALK ABOUT THE TECHNOLOGY AT THESE BALLOT CENTERS. SOUNDS LIKE COMPUTERS ARE SCANNING ID'S NOW INSTEAD OF THE PERSON ASKING FOR MY DRIVER'S LICENSE AND CHECKING ME OFF. TALK TO ME ABOUT THAT.

ADRIAN FONTES: WE HAVE A MUCH MORE SECURE SYSTEM THAN BEFORE. IN THE PAST WE HAD VOLUNTEERS AND PEOPLE WHO HAD NOT THE BEST TRAINING IN THE WORLD CHECKING IDS AT POLLING PLACES AND IT WAS HARD TO GET FOLKS TO WORK THOSE, SO WE REALLY DIDN'T HAVE THE BEST PERFORMANCE. NOW WE ARE MOVING TO ACROSS THE BOARD STANDARD PRACTICE ACROSS THE INDUSTRY, AND THIS IS NATIONWIDE FOR AMERICAN ELECTIONS. WE ARE MAKING SURE FOLKS SCAN EITHER THEIR DRIVER'S LICENSE OR PHOTO ID CARD WITH THE BARCODE ON THEM AND THEY PUT IT IN A VOTE BY MAIL SYSTEM AFTER SIGNING OFF ON THE AFFIDAVIT SO THERE IS MORE SECURITY WITH THIS SYSTEM THAN THERE WAS WITH THE OLD POLLING PLACE SYSTEM.

TED SIMONS: COULD YOU VOTE WITH A STOLEN ID?

ADRIAN FONTES: YOU HAVE ALWAYS BEEN ABLE TO DO THAT BECAUSE WE HAVE SOMETIMES PROBLEMS. BUT THE REALITY IS YOU CAN HAVE A STOLEN ID BUT CAN YOU FORGE THE EXACT SAME SIGNATURE? IF YOU DON'T HAVE ID DO YOU HAVE ALL THOSE EXTRA POINTS OF INFORMATION THE VOTER MIGHT HAVE?

TED SIMONS: IF MY SIGNATURE IS NOT THE SAME AS WHAT IS ON THAT PARTICULAR DRIVERS LICENSE WOULD THE MACHINE GO ‘OOPS, NO THANK YOU'?

ADRIAN FONTES: THE SIGNATURE VERIFICATION IS ON THE BACK SIDE. SO WE'RE STILL DOING THE EXACT SAME SIGNATURE VERIFICATION THAT WE HAVE BEEN DOING FOR ABOUT TEN YEARS. IT IS INDUSTRY STANDARD AND FAR MORE SECURE THAN OTHER SYSTEMS WE HAVE HAD. EACH OF THOSE SIGNATURES, OF THE MILLIONS SOMETIMES THAT GET CAST, EACH OF THEM GETS CHECKED BY ONE OF OUR EMPLOYEES TO MAKE SURETHAT IT MATCHES. AND THE INITIAL EMPLOYEE CAN'T REJECT THE SIGNATURE. IF THEY SAY IT DOESN'T MATCH UP, IT GOES TO A SUPERVISOR AND WE CAN LOOK INTO OLD RECORDS. YOU MIGHT HAVE MOVEMENT LIKE SOMEONE GETTING OLD OR A YOUNGER PERSON SIGNING. THE REASON WE WANT YOUR PHONE NUMBER ON THE ENVELOPE IS IF WE HAVE A PROBLEM WITH SIGNATURE VERIFICATION WE CAN CALL YOU UP AND STRAIGHTEN IT OUT.

TED SIMONS: WHAT IF YOU FORGOT YOUR DRIVERS LICENSE, YOU DON'T HAVE YOUR ID, SOMETHING ALONG THESE LINES. WHAT HAPPENS?

ADRIAN FONTES: YOU CAN DO A PROVISIONAL BALLOT BUT THE DIFFERENCE IS YOU DON'T HAVE TO BECAUSE WE ARE CONNECTED TO THE VOTER REGISTRATION SYSTEM THROUGH A SECURE VPN. WHAT THAT MEANS IS WE DON'T HAVE ANY CONNECTIVITY TO THE BROADER INTERNET. OUR VIRTUAL INTERNET GOES STRAIGHT TO VOTER REGISTRATION AND WE HAVE A DEPUTY REGISTRAR AT EACH OF OUR BALLOT CENTERS CHECKING THE VOTERS SO WE CAN VERIFY THAT INFORMATION. YOU GET THE BALLOT AND GET TO VOTE.

TED SIMONS: THE SECRETARY OF STATE HAS DECIDED TO REVERSE COURSE AND NOT HAND OVER VOTER ROLL INFORMATION TO A FEDERAL COMMISSION LOOKING AT VOTER FRAUD. YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS?

ADRIAN FONTES: I AGREE WITH THE SECRETARY OF STATE A HUNDRED PERCENT. I DON'T THINK ARIZONA'S VOTER INFORMATION SHOULD BE GOING TO THIS COMMISSION FOR THE REASONS THEY ASKED. I DISAGREE WITH HER RATIONALE BY USING THE BEST INTEREST OF THE STATE STANDARD BECAUSE THAT IS A HIGH STANDARD AND I'M NOT SURE IT IS APPROPRIATE IN THIS CASE BUT THEY HAD THEIR LAWYERS LOOK AT IT. I WOULD HAVE GONE WITH THE REQUEST DOESN'T COMPORT WITH ARIZONA LAW. THEY SAID THEY WOULD TAKE THIS INFORMATION AND PUT IT OUT THERE AND THAT IS WHY THE PUBLIC WAS UPSET AND WHY I SAID WE SHOULD NOT GIVE THE INFORMATION BECAUSE OF THE INTENDED PURPOSE OF THE REQUEST.

TED SIMONS: YOU HAVE THE INFORMATION AS THE COUNTY OF ATTORNEY.

ADRIAN FONTES: I AM THE RECORDER.

TED SIMONS: I AM SORRY. COUNTY RECORDER. YOU HAVE THE INFORMATION. COULD YOU SAY TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE I DON'T THINK SO?

ADRIAN FONTES: YES, BECAUSE IT IS MY INFORMATION. THE VOTER REGISTRATION ROLLS ARE NOT THE SECRETARY OF STATE'S. THE SECRETARY OF STATE ADMINISTERS AND TALKS ABOUT DIFFERENT THINGS AND HELPS US WORK STATE TO STATE. THE COUNTY RECORDERS HAVE THE INFORMATION ON THEIR VOTER ROLLS JUST LIKE WE HAVE PROPERTY INFORMATION. THIS IS OUR INFORMATION IN OUR INDEPENDENTLY ELECTED CONSTITUTIONAL OFFICES AND WE WORK WITH THE SECRETARY OF STATE. I THINK THE DECISION SHOULD HAVE BEEN OURS BUT WE ARE GLAD SHE DECIDED ULTIMATELY THE WAY SHE DID.

TED SIMONS: GOOD INFORMATION AND GOOD TO HAVE YOU HERE. THANKS FOR JOINING US.

ADRIAN FONTES: THANKS FOR HAVING ME.
 

Adrian Fontes: Maricopa County Recorder

Endeavour Watch Party

“Endeavour” Season 9 Watch Party!

Birdwatching Across Arizona
airs June 7

Birdwatching Across Arizona

Super Why characters

Join a Super Why Reading Camp to play, learn and grow

National Memorial Day Concert image
aired May 28

National Memorial Day Concert

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters

STAY in touch
with azpbs.org!

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters: